>> Saturday, April 23, 2011
After the body was placed in the tomb, it was wrapped in linen that had been saturated with embalming ointment; a mixture of myrrh and aloes. This ointment would then dry into a shellac-like substance and the linen wrap would become stiff. The body now resided in a hardened cocoon. If a large stone was rolled in front of the opening, that would make it much more difficult to move the body, making the burial site more permanent.
Before sealing the tomb, authorities were first required to inspect the inside of the tomb to see that the body was really in place. After guaranteeing that the corpse was where it was supposed to be, the stone was rolled across the doorway and then sealed shut.
Sometimes, as in the case with Jesus, soldiers stood guard to protect the tomb from anyone who would attempt to touch it or remove its contents. Every three hours, new guards arrived to replace the old ones.
Chuck Swindoll’s recent podcasts have been about the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. As I’ve pondered his words, I’ve seen a correlation between the ancient tombs and the one I grew up in.
There was a lot of darkness in the two rooms I called home … but not much life. And that lifelessness spilled over into the church where we attended. The somber faces of the congregation gave the appearance of being shellacked into a hardened substance. With the stiffness of their spirits and an abundance of judgmental attitudes, the church members lived in a cocoon … never emerging and never allowing anyone in.
The black book we called the Manual could be compared to the large stone that was rolled across the doorway. I lived my life inside that tomb; with the Manual in place to ensure that no one could rescue me and that I could not escape. And there were guards everywhere … reporting my activities to anyone who would listen.
But they felt a much larger stone would be needed to keep me under control. So they brought in a fierce and frightening God. Knowing He was watching every move I made kept me securely entombed.
“Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.” John 20:1 (NLT)