There are many of the prophecies of the Messiah which are so difficult and complex that it would be impossible for any one person to fulfill. How would a convicted and destitute criminal arrange to have a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin, give him his own costly tomb to be buried? Seven hundred years before Jesus was crucified and laid in the tomb, Isaiah the Prophet describes the Messiah as He is buried in the tomb of a rich man.
Isaiah 53:9a And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Matthew records Joseph of Arimathea as the rich man described by Isaiah and Nicodemus, also from the Sanhedrin, who came with 100 pounds of costly spices to anoint Jesus body.
Matthew 27:57-60 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.
John 19:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
At first glance, many people would wonder why being buried in a rich man’s grave was important to the Messiah’s story. The fact that Jesus was so poor and without any assets of His own, being buried in the tomb of a rich man would be notable and cause for attention. This appears to be one of the reasons that the Lord chose this prophecy to be fulfilled by the Messiah.
Isaiah describes many intimate and detailed facts about the Messiah that would be impossible for him to have known unless he had been given advanced knowledge of these events by God.
• He will speak by Parables. – Isaiah 6:9-10 Prophecy 162
• Born of a Virgin – Isaiah 7:14 Prophecy 164
• God living in the body of a man – Isaiah 7:14 Prophecy 165
• His name will mean salvation. – Isaiah 12:2 Prophecy 186
• Only a few will receive Him. – Isaiah 33:2 Prophecy 195
• He will heal the blind, the deaf, the lame. – Isaiah 35:5-6 Prophecy 197
• He will be very gentle. – Isaiah 42:1-4 Prophecy 201 Prophecy 202
The Lord wanted to ensure that the events surrounding the life of the Messiah would be so extraordinary that no one could falsely identify the wrong person as the Savior. When we consider the hundreds of unique and well-defined events that any one person in the history of the world would have to accomplish in order to correctly be given the title of Messiah, it is astounding that Jesus could fulfill all these requirements.
Regarding the death of the Messiah, Isaiah speaks here of Him as buried in the tomb of a rich man. The chances of a criminal, who had been crucified, being given an expensive tomb for his burial, is highly unlikely. Even the fact that Jesus was crucified spoke prophetically of someone who was accursed by God.
“…for he who is hanged is accursed of God.”
The Bible called for a specific procedure to put a person to death on a tree
According to Deuteronomy 21:22-23, no person who committed a crime worthy of death by being hung on a tree could be left there overnight. Roman custom often left the condemned criminal on the cross until the body decayed and fell apart.
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.
Jesus died at about 3:00 in the afternoon. The Sabbath would begin at 6 p.m. The amount of spices used in preparation for Jesus’ body and the fact that He was placed in a new tomb in which no person had ever been buried, were indications that someone of great wealth had made this rare burial possible. As it turns out, there were two wealthy men who helped Jesus fulfill this prophecy. Joseph of Arimathea provided the new tomb for Jesus to be buried in. Nicodemus brought about one hundred pounds of costly Myrrh and Aloes to place upon His body.
John 19:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus…
John 19:39 “…Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds…”
Only the gospel of Matthew records that Joseph of Arimathea was rich. Only John provides the details of the costly spices used to cover the Lord’s body before it was wrapped in linen strips.
Proving Jesus is the Messiah
In keeping with Matthew’s tradition in seeking to prove from the scriptures that Jesus was fulfilling all of the Old Testament prophecies which concern the Messiah, he makes a special point of informing us that Joseph is the rich man to whom Isaiah describes.
It is clear that Matthew was attributing the donation of a rich man’s tomb, owned by Joseph of Arimathea for Jesus’ burial, to the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9. This is an important piece of evidence in our attempts at aligning the events of Jesus’ Life with all of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. There is no doubt whatsoever that Matthew believed that Jesus was both, fulfilling all of Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah, and that He personally believed that Jesus was the one to whom Isaiah was speaking of.
It is also interesting that these two men who lovingly provided for the Lord at His death have their deeds forever recorded in the word of God. In much the same way that Jesus told the dear woman who burst into Simon’s home to anoint Jesus’ feet with costly oil, which was also in preparation for His death, that she would be remembered forever. Her loving act of kindness is recorded for us in Mark’s testimony.
Mark 14:3-9 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Nothing that we do for the Lord is ever wasted. Jesus keeps special records of those who lovingly speak of Him, live for Him, and set as their heart’s desire, a firm commitment to make Him known to the world. Someday when Jesus returns, He will reward all those who did so many loving deeds for Him that were perhaps never known by others. The prophet Malachi writes that those who simply spoke to each other about the Lord, had their words recorded in books as a remembrance. The Lord seems to delight in recording the acts of love that we do for Him and has planned to later reward all those who have loved Him with their lives.
Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name.
This prophecy of Isaiah 53:9 describes the Messiah as buried in a new tomb provided for Him at His death. This amazing and impossible event was fulfilled by Jesus in the gospels as recorded by Matthew, Luke, and John.