Jesus’s Death and Burial
Open Your Bible
Luke 23:44-49, Matthew 27:45-56, Luke 23:50-56
BY Jen Yokel
Few experiences are more revealing than suffering. Have you ever seen a friend’s character shine brightly in the face of an unthinkable loss, a heartbreaking betrayal, or a frightening diagnosis? Our moments of deepest grief show us who we are, and we can see it’s the same with Jesus. Though the end of His earthly life was marked by pain, betrayal, humiliation, and a violent, unjust death, here we see a man who died as He lived.
Jesus isn’t stoic in His darkest hours. There’s the cry of despair, echoing the psalms: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). But there’s also a humble submission as He takes His last breath and entrusts His spirit into the Father’s hands. (Luke 23:46). Despite the rejection of the crowds and all the humiliation they could throw at Him, He faces death with a sense of completion. He has followed God faithfully to the end, and the story isn’t over.
Even creation mourns, as “darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed” (vv.44–45). We read of earthquakes and the temple curtain ripping like garments of grief. But in this darkness, He is not alone. The women who followed Him watched from a distance, bravely keeping vigil. Maybe they hope He really will come down from the cross. If not, they will care for His body, giving Him the dignity He was denied in death.
A Roman centurion watches too. Perhaps he’d heard stories and rumors about this teacher that angered the crowds in Jerusalem and the Roman government alike. Likely he was just there to do his job, to keep order and stand guard for these crucifixions. Does he recognize the injustice in this death? Or is it Jesus’s constant forgiveness and love that opens the soldier’s eyes to the truth: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (v.54).
In this darkest hour, it feels like all hope has died. Jesus—the one the disciples hoped would save Israel, the one who healed the sick and confounded the expert teachers, the one who faced violence and false accusations with clarity and purpose—is dead. Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man and member of the Sanhedrin, offers Jesus a proper burial in a borrowed tomb. The women who loved Him wait and rest on the Sabbath, with plans to care for Him in death as they did in life.
We know this is not the end, but we cannot rush past this part of the story. Jesus has shown us how to suffer well, and knowing He has experienced the darkest depths of pain can give us hope. He was not alone, and neither are we.