Secret Disciples Bury the Messiah

Peter Barnes: John 19:38-42

(6 October 2019)


Those who with Jesus at the crucifixion were not many in number – some loyal women, including His mother, and two secret disciples.

1. Secret disciples do exist.

– 19:38-39. That does not seem to fit in easily with Romans 10:9-10. But Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50-51) and Nicodemus became secret disciples for a time (John 3:1-2).

– most so-called secret disciples are not disciples – John 12:42-43. J. C. Ryle: ‘Open sin kills its thousands, but the fear of man its tens of thousands.’ A small minority are true believers, but note Matt.10:32-33.

2. Secret believers grow as God draws them out.

– For Nicodemus, see John 3:2-4, 5-10, then John 7:50-52. Calvin and the ‘Nicodemites’ during the Reformation. On 15 February 2015 Matthew Ayariga was beheaded on a beach in Libya for saying: ‘I am a Christian.’

3. Secret disciples give Jesus a royal burial.

– 19:39, it was a substantial amount. Josephus says that when Herod the Great was buried, 500 servants carried spices to anoint his body. See 19:40. The Turin Shroud is one single cloth, which is not the description we have here, which mentions ‘cloths’, in the plural.

– 19:41-42. Jesus is buried in a garden very close to where He was crucified – Matt.27:57-60, to fulfil Isa.53:9.

– Rom.1:16. Joseph Grigg: Jesus, and shall it ever be,/ A mortal man, ashamed of Thee?… / Ashamed of Jesus! yes, I may/ When I’ve no guilt to wash away;/ No tear to wipe, no good to crave,/ No fears to quell, no soul to save.