The glory of the Messiah, 13:1-20:31

2. The trial and passion of Jesus, 18:1-19:42

vi] The burial of Jesus


John recounts the confirmation by the authorities that Jesus was dead, the removal of Jesus' body from the cross and the burial.


Salvation flows from the completed sacrifice of Christ:


i] Context: See 18:1-11.


ii] Structure: The Burial of Jesus:

The confirmation of Jesus' death, v31-37;

Jesus' legs are not broken, v31-33:

The piercing of Jesus' side, v34-37.

Jesus' burial, v38-42;

The actions of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus , v38-39

Jesus' body is prepared for burial, v40-41.


iii] Interpretation:

Following on from the account of the crucifixion, John records in some detail what happened to Jesus' body. The Romans would normally leave a crucified body on the cross for many days as a deterrent to any other intending malefactors, but for the sake of religious sensibilities, the following day being the Sabbath, Pilate allowed the bodies to be removed. A quick death is a merciful death and so, although painful, smashing the legs of a crucified person so that they suffocate, is the lesser of two evils. When the soldiers came to Jesus they found he was already dead, and so confirmed this fact with the thrust of a lance. John makes a point of noting the flow of blood and water, probably because it is such an important thematic image in his gospel - the cleansing power of water and blood.

All the gospels record the burial of Jesus, and John recounts much that is in common with the synoptic gospels, but as usual, he adds his own insights. He tells us that Nicodemus assisted Joseph of Arimathaea with the burial, that Jesus was buried with a generous quantity of spices, that the burial chamber was close to Golgotha, and that it was situated in a garden. The implication of the account is that the burial chamber belonged to Joseph of Arimathaea, but irrespective as to who owned it, Jesus' body is properly prepared for burial according to Jewish tradition, and this with great dignity by two Jews of high position.


John, in his description of Jesus' death and burial, underlines the fact of Jesus completed work - Jesus is dead and buried. John describes this fact in detail - "It is finished." The reality of Jesus completed work is particularly illustrated in the flow of blood and water - a reminder that salvation flows from the completed sacrifice of Christ:

Let the water and the blood

From they riven side which flowed

Be of sin and double cure,

Cleanse me from its guilt and power. Toplady.


iv] Synoptics:

As usual, John runs his own race, providing us with more details of Jesus' burial than the synoptic gospels - there is no question about it; Jesus died and was buried. In fact, these extra details have prompted the suggestion that John's record is fanciful, but it is more likely that it derives from an eye witness. The synoptics do not record the intention to break Jesus' legs and how that fulfills scripture, nor the piercing of Jesus' side and how that also fulfills scripture. There is no mention in the synoptic gospels of Nicodemus, the flow of blood and water, nor the garden tomb near the crucifixion site.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 19:31

From the cross to the tomb, v31-42. i] The confirmation of Jesus' death, v31-37; a) Jesus' legs are not broken, v31-37. Given Deuteronomy 21:22f, it may be OK to execute an innocent man, even the messiah, but "a body shall not remain all night upon a tree, you shall bury him the same day." So, the religious authorities ask that the crucified men have their legs broken. The breaking of the legs hastened death and was actually a kindness. The crurifragium was performed with a large wooden hammer.

oi Ioudaioi "-" - [therefore] the jews. Nominative subject of the verb "to ask." Obviously John is using the word to describe the Jewish authorities, the chief priests etc.

epei "-" - since, because. Causal conjunction; "Since it was the day of Preparation", ESV.

paraskeuh "the day of Preparation" - [it was] preparation. Nominative subject of the verb "to be." The vigil before the Sabbath, ie. 6pm Thursday to 6pm Friday. Some argue it is the vigil before the Passover, but this is unlikely. Here John agrees with Mark.

iJna + subj. "-" - that [bodies may not stay upon the cross]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath", Moffatt.

en + dat. "during [the Sabbath]" - on [the sabbath]. Here an adverbial use of the preposition, temporal, as NIV.

gar "-" - for [great was the day of that sabbath]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the Jewish authorities didn't want the bodies to remain on the crosses, namely, because the following Sabbath day was an especially holy day because it was the Sabbath of Passover week. The genitive ekeinou tw/ sabbatw, "of that Sabbath" is adjectival, epexegetic; "for it was a great day (Sabbath), that particular Sabbath."

hrwthsan (erwtaw) aor. "they asked" - they asked. "So they requested Pilate to have the legs broken", REB.

iJna "to" - that [the legs of them might be broken]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what they asked.

arqwsin (airw) aor. pas. subj. "the bodies taken down" - [and the bodies] taken away. The second element of the authorities' request to Pilate; "and their bodies removed", Barclay.


Breaking the legs of the two who were crucified together with Jesus, before dealing with Jesus, is an interesting twist. It is probably a literary device serving to focus our attention on Jesus.

oun "therefore" - therefore [the soldiers came]. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion, as NIV.

men ...... de ..."-" - An adversative comparative construction; "so the soldiers came, and on the one hand, broke the legs of the first man ....... but on the other hand, when they came to Jesus ....."

tou ... prwtou adj. "[the legs] of the first man" - [and broke the legs] of the first. The adjective serves as a substantive, while the genitive is adjectival, possessive; "the legs that belonged to the first man" = "the soldiers first broke the legs of the other two men who were nailed there", CEV.

tou sustaurwqentoV (sustaurow) gen. aor. pas. part. "who had been crucified with" - [and of the other] the one having been crucified together with [him]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantival adjective tou allou, "[and broke the legs] of the other", as NIV.

autw/ dat. pro. "Jesus" - him. Dative of direct object after a sun prefix verb "to crucify with."


It is somewhat unusual for a crucified person to die so quickly, and John seems to draw out this fact. A crucified person often takes days to die. Mark also tells us that a soldier verified the death.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative with adversative force, as NIV.

elqonteV (ercomai) aor. part. "when they came" - having come. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

epi + acc. "to [Jesus]" - upon [jesus]. Spacial, expressing movement up to.

wJV "-" - when [they saw that]. Here temporal, rather than comparative, although this conjunction can be used to introduce a causal clause (a rare usage!); "when they came to Jesus, because they found that he was already death, they did no break his legs."

h]dh adv. "[he was] already [dead]" - already [he has died they did not break the legs of him]. Temporal adverb.


b) The piercing of Jesus' side, v34-37. Tradition has it that Jesus was wounded on the right side (note all the paintings), but the left is more likely. With regard the flow of blood and water, some interesting textual suggestions have come to the fore recently where it is argued that the evangelist does not mean that two separate liquids flowed from Jesus, but rather the intent of the phrase is "blood even fluid" flowed, J.M. Ford; "mingled blood" flowed. This translation is worth considering, although it is generally held that the flow is of two liquids. On the medical side it is argued that Jesus has suffered a heart attack and that the spear has pierced the heart, prompting a flow of blood, while the water flows from the pericardial sac. The problem is the lungs get in the way of this flow. Another suggestion is that Jesus' scourging had caused hemorrhagic fluid to build up in the space between the ribs and the lung. A spear thrust below the lung would evacuate this fluid first, followed by a flow of blood. On the theological side the most popular view is to link the water and blood to the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. From the Church Fathers to the present day (eg. Cullmann), this position is strongly argued. Both Brown and Beasley-Murray see it as a secondary allusion at most. Other examples of spiritualizing this event is to read blood and water as symbols of life and cleansing, death and resurrection, the sacrificial work of Christ and the life-giving work of the Spirit ..... This symbolism can certainly be read into the incident, but the question is, does John seek to make the symbolic connection? Most modern commentators, eg. Beasley-Murray, Morris, Carson ... argue that John's point is that Jesus is a real man suffering a real death (At this time it was believed that humans consisted of blood and water while the Gods were blood-water; they were without blood because they didn't eat). Maybe Dodd is right when he argues that the flow of blood and water is the pivotal sign of the flow of life that comes to humanity through the death of Christ.

all (alla) "instead" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "They did not break his legs, but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear."

twn stratiwtwn (hV ou) gen. "[one] of the soldiers" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

enuxen (nussw) aor. "pierced" - pierced, pricked, stabbed, prodded. Used of a light prod, or of a vicious prod as if to wound someone. Here it is likely a heavy thrust, a stab, is intended.

thn pleuran (a) "side" - the side, rib [of him]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to pierce." The thrust of the spear was likely aimed at the heart to serve as a mortal wound.

logch/ (h) dat. "with a spear" - with a spear, lance. The dative is instrumental, expressing means, as NIV. A metal tip on a wooden shaft. "With a lance", NJB.

exhlqen (exercomai) aor. "bringing a [sudden] flow" - [and immediately] come out, went out. "At once there was an outrush of blood and water", Phillips.

aiJma kai uJdwr "blood and water" - Nominative subject of the verb "to come out."


The commentators are divided over whether ekeinoV, "that one", refers to the beloved disciple as the author of the gospel, therefore "he", as in the NIV, or it refers to an editor/author who states he knows that the testimony of the eyewitness, the beloved disciple, is true. The latter seems best and aligns with 21:24. The authorship of this gospel is a hot issue, but the text doesn't establish authorship, rather it claims that its source is apostolic. So, the author/editor is telling us that the account of Jesus' death comes from an eyewitness, "he who saw it" first hand, namely, the beloved disciple, the apostle John, and "his testimony is true; he is telling what he knows to be true", Brown.

oJ eJwrakwV (oJraw) perf. part. "the man who saw it" - [and] the one having looked at, seen [the death of jesus]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to witness." The writer has identified only one male at the crucifixion, namely "the beloved disciple." Obviously he is "the eyewitness."

memarturhken (marturew) perf. "has given testimony" - has witnessed, testified [and the testimony of him is true]. "He has set it on permanent record" Morris.

ekeinoV "he [knows]" - [and] that one [knows]. Demonstrative pronoun serving as the subject of the verb "to know."

oJti "that" - that [he speaks truly]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what he knows, namely, that he is telling the truth, and this because he was there.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that." This clause seems to modify the testimony concerning the flow of "mingled blood", but it is more likely that the clause modifies the testimony of the beloved disciple as such (but particularly with respect to the death of Jesus). John's gospel is drawn from the testimony of the beloved disciple, John, which testimony is given that we may have faith in Christ and therefore live.

pisteushte (pisteuw) aor. sub. "you [also] may believe" - you [and = also] may believe. The variant present tense pisteuhte may indicate ongoing faith and therefore may imply the gospel is for believers, "that you may keep on believing", unlike the aorist which may indicate punctiliar action, "that you may believe." The aorist is to be preferred, but as Harris point out it can denote both coming to faith and continuing in faith


John now indicates the scriptures that are fulfilled in the manner of Jesus' death. The first presents as a composite text, Exod.12:46, Num.9:12 (no bones of the Passover lamb are to be broken), Ps.34:20 (the bones of a righteous man are not broken), and the second from Zech.12:10.

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why "his testimony is true", namely, because what he saw and testifies is in accord with scripture; "for these things took place ..."

tauta pro. "these things [happened]" - these things [become, happened]. Nominative subject of the verb "to become." Referring to the piercing of the side and non breaking of Jesus' bones.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [the scripture might be fulfilled]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that ..." The purpose of God had to be fulfilled", Morris.

ostoun (on) "bones" - a bone [of him]. Nominative subject of the verb "to break." "A bone of him shall not be broken", Phillips.

ou suntribhsetai (suntribw) fut. "not [one of his bones] will be broken" - will not be broken, shattered, crushed. Dodd argues that the quote comes from Psalm 34:20 and is making the point that the Lord watches over the just man's bones. Bultman agrees, but thinks John has in mind the instructions in Exodus 12:46 where it is commanded that the bones of the paschal lamb should not be broken.


oJyontai (oJraw) fut. "they will look" - [and again a different scripture says] they will look, see. Who looks? Brown suggests both Jews who are the enemies of Jesus and believers who stand with the beloved disciple. Schnackenburg suggests it is a reference to looking with eyes of faith at the crucified Savior.

eiV + acc. "on" - into. Expressing the direction of the action.

exekenthsan (ekkentew) aor. "they have pierced" - [whom] they pierced through deeply. Therefore "killed". From Zechariah 12:10. The MT has "They will look upon me whom they have pierced", the "me" referring to the stricken Shepherd, although the context implies Yahweh. John most likely follows a similar LXX version of the time, evidenced in the Vienna Codex, "he whom they have pierced" Those who stand with the beloved disciple, look with faith upon the pierced messiah. "He whom they have pierced", Brown.


ii] Jesus' burial, v38-42. a) The actions of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, v38-39. Joseph of Arimathea gains permission from Pilate to take charge of Jesus' body. Joseph is obviously one of those referred to in 12:42, believers who were afraid to openly confess Jesus in case they were expelled from their local synagogue. It's interesting that John makes no comment about this behavior. Under the authority of Rome such behavior was probably necessary for survival. There is manuscript evidence to support "they came and took away the body." The Synoptics have Joseph doing it, but obviously it does take more than one person to transport a body for burial, so Joseph has help - Nicodemus +? It is possible to read the passage as Joseph going to Pilate, getting permission and returning to Golgotha and taking charge of the body. He is then joined by Nicodemus with the materials to prepare Jesus' body for burial, v39. Then off they go to the grave site, obviously with others to help, and there they prepare the body, v40.

meta + acc. "later" - after [these things]. Temporal use of the preposition with the phrase serving as a transitional marker.

apo + gen. "[Joseph] of [Arimathea]" - [joseph] from, out of [arimathea being a disciple of jesus but secretly because of the fear of the jews]. Expressing source / origin.

hrwthsen (erwtaw) aor. "asked" - asked [pilate]. A daring act on Joseph's part.

iJna + subj. "for [the body of Jesus]" - that [he might take away the body of jesus]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what he asked; "Joseph asked Pilate for permission to remove the body."

w]n (eimi) pres. part. "[now Joseph] was" - being. The participle is adjectival, attributive, introducing a relative clause limiting by description "Joseph of Arimathea." "Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus", ESV. Being anarthrous it may be adverbial, possibly causal, "because he was a disciple of Jesus", Novakovic.

tou Ihsou (oV) gen. "[a disciple] of Jesus" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive / relational.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative with an adversative overtone; "although secretly"

kekrummenoV (kruptw) perf. pas. part. "secretly" - concealed, secretly, hidden. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his being a disciple. In the gospel tradition, his outing brings him favor, for secret discipleship was frowned on.

dia + acc. "because" - because of, on account of. Causal.

twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "[he feared] the Jewish leaders" - [the fear] of the jews. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, as NIV; "because he was afraid of the Jews", Barclay.

oun "-" [and pilate allowed it] therefore [he came and took the body of him. Drawing a logical conclusion. "Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away", NJB.


John now mentions Nicodemus' involvement in Jesus' burial. Nicodemus supplies seventy-five pounds / 30 kilograms of dried spices, probably for a bed to lay Jesus upon - embalming is unlikely. This burial is for a king and so the supply of perfumed spices is lavish.

oJ elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "the man who [earlier] had visited" - [and nicodemus and = also come] the one having come. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to Nicodemus, as NIV, or adjectival, attributive, limiting Nicodemus, "who earlier had come to Jesus by night", ESV.

to prwton adv. "earlier" - the first [to him]. The articular adverb serves as a substantive; "having come the first time"

nuktoV (x ktoV) gen. "at night" - during, within the night. The genitive is adverbial, temporal / of time.

ferwn (ferw) pres. part. "brought" - bearing, carrying, bringing. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "came", "Nicodemus came and brought", or adverbial, modal, expressing manner, "came bringing."

smurnhV (a) gen. "[a mixture] of myrrh" - A pungent resin used for incense. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / of material; "a mixture consisting of myrrh and aloes."

alohV (h) gen. "aloes" - [and] aloes. Powdered sandalwood, again used for incense. The genitive as above.

wJV "about" - as = about. When used before numbers the particle expresses approximation, as NIV.

litraV eJkaton "seventy-five pounds" - one hundred roman pounds. One Roman pound = 12 ounces. This is an excessive amount and may reflect John's desire to dignify Jesus' burial. As these are likely to be dry powders they may well serve as a bed of spices for the body to lay upon.


b) Jesus' body is prepared for burial, v40-41. First, Jesus' body would be washed, then anointed with an essential oil, wrapped in a linen sheet, and finally laid out on the bed of spices.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "so they took the body of Jesus", ESV.

edhsan (dew) aor. "wrapped" - [they took the body of jesus and] bound, wrapped [it in linen cloths]. "Wound it round with linen strips and spices", Phillips.

meta + gen. "with" - Adverbial use of the preposition expressing the manner in which the body was wrapped in a linen cloth, namely, "with the spices."

twn arwmatwn (a atoV) "the spices" - fragrant essential oil. Possibly referring to the myrrh and aloes, or identifying a third component in the preparation of the body. The normal custom was to anoint the body (rub into the skin) with an ointment of essential oils.

oqonioiV (on) dat. "in strips of linen" - linen cloth, sheet, wrapping. Dative of material, "they wrapped the body using / with sheets of linen." There is no evidence that the Jews bound bodies in strips of linen so we are likely dealing with a length of linen material that was wrapped around Jesus body in a style similar to the formal dress of the time, cf. Mk:14:51. The reason for "strips" is that John has used the plural.

kaqwV "this [was] in accordance with" - as [is the custom of]. Introducing a comparative clause.

toiV IoudaioiV (oV) dat. "Jewish" - the jews. Dative complement of the noun "custom of."

entafiazein (entafiazw) pres. inf. "burial [customs]" - to prepare for burial, bury. The infinitive is verbal, expressing purpose; "as is the custom of/with the Jews for the purpose of burial." For example, for King Asa "they laid him on a bed which had been filled with all kinds of aromatic oils and perfumes", 2Chron.16:14. The body is prepared with no disturbance to internal organs. The exposed parts are wrapped around, and a face cloth is put over the face. "For this is the customary Jewish method of burial", Barclay.


John's record of Jesus' burial implies haste dia, "because", it was late in " the day of Preparation" before the Sabbath when work was no longer permitted, ie., sunset / 6pm. So, there was a new tomb near to where Jesus was crucified and Jesus was laid out there. John tells us that the tomb was new and that it was in a garden. He does not mention the presence of guards, nor the placement of a stone over the entrance, as in the synoptic gospels, although the stone is mentioned in 20:1.

en + dat. "at [the place]" - [but/and a garden was] in the place [where he was crucified]. Local, expressing space; possibly "near".

khpoV (oV) "a garden" - a garden, orchard, olive grove ..... Nominative subject of the verb to-be. The same word is used for the site where Jesus was arrested. At this time there were olive groves and fruit and vegetable gardens beyond the North wall and the area also had tombs for dignitaries.

mnhmeion (on) "tomb" - [and in the garden was a new] tomb, monument. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. All the gospels use this word, making the point it is "new". The synoptics tell us it is cut out of stone, while Matthew implies that it is owned by Joseph.

teqeimenoV (tiqhmi) perf. pas. part. "[no on] had [ever] been laid" - [in which not yet no one was] having been laid. The perfect participle with the imperfect verb to-be h\n forms a periphrastic pluperfect construction emphasizing aspect. "A new tomb where no one had ever been buried", TEV.


oun "-" - therefore [there (ie., in the tomb), because of the preparation (the Day of Preparation = Sabbath eve) of the jews was about to end and because the tomb was near, they placed jesus]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection. The implication is that this is only a temporary arrangement until they can prepare Jesus' own tomb.

dia + acc. ..... oJti ... "because .... since ..." - Both serve to introduce a causal clause, "because ....... and because ....."

twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "the Jewish [day of Preparation]" - [the preparation] of the jews. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a derivative characteristic. "Since it was the day before the Sabbath", TEV.

eqhkan (tiqhmi) aor. "they laid [Jesus there]" - they placed, put [jesus]. The aorist indicating completed action so possibly "laid to rest", even "buried".


John Introduction.



[Pumpkin Cottage]