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Books Section > Jesus in Heaven on Earth [Journey of Jesus to Kashmir, his preaching to the Lost Tribes of Israel and death and burial in Srinagar] by Khwaja Nazir Ahmad > Chapter 11: Burial (of Jesus Christ)


Chapter 11:
Burial:

According to the custom then obtaining in Judaea, the body of Jesus should have remained suspended on the cross until it was consumed by the weather or by birds of prey. But, according to Jewish Law, it should have been removed in the evening and interred in the place of infamy assigned to the executed. Roman Law provided for delivery of the body to those who claimed and paid for it. Consequently, we are told that Joseph of Arimathea (Ha-Rama-Thain), a secret disciple of Jesus (John, 19 : 38), a seeker after the kingdom of God (Mark, 15 : 43; Luke, 23 : 51), a friend of the Lord (The Gospel of Peter, 2 : 28), and a member of the Essenes Order (The Jewish Ency., Vol. 4 : 250), asked Pilate to deliver the body to him.

In passing, I may point out that all the evangelists introduce this Joseph here for the first time. He must have been an important man to have access to Pilate. His description by Johns shows that Jesus had some secret friends, the Essenes, unknown to his disciples or other people. I will refer to this secret organisation in some detail later on. I will, however, quote a passage from the Crucifixion:

"Joseph of Arimathea... was a member of our sacred Order and lived in accordance with our laws. His friend Nicodemus was a most learned man and belonged to the highest degree of our Order" (The Crucifixion, 66).

To resume the narrative, Pilate granted the prayer of Joseph of Arimathea. The Eye-Witness gives, in the Crucifixion, details of the conversation which took place between Joseph and Nicodemus in consequence of which Joseph went to arrange for the linen, etc., and Nicodemus to fetch "the herbs which were useful in such cases" (Ibid., 75). There was thus a sudden rush and activity, in which the women also joined, to get the spices.

According to John, Nicodemus came secretly by night to the sepulchre and brought spices, it is said, for the embalming of the body of Jesus, a mixture of myrrh and aloes; in the quantity of about a hundred pounds in weight (John, 19 : 39). I quote again the Eye-Witness:

"Thereupon Nicodemus spread strong spices and healing salves on long pieces of "byssus" which he had brought and whose use was known to our Order…. Nicodemus spread balm in both nail-pierced hands" (The Crucifixion, 74).

I may mention here that Jesus, as a member of the Essenes Order, knew of this treatment and had himself given an indication of it to his disciples in the parable of the man who had gone from Jerusalem to Jericho and who had fallen among thieves and had been wounded by them. Then, according to Jesus, a Samaritan came there:

"And bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine …" (Luke, 10:34).

This is exactly what was done in the case of Jesus. Dummelow, describing the manner in which the body of Jesus was treated, says:

"The Myrrh and aloe wood were reduced to powder and inserted between the bandages which were wound fold upon fold" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 808).

The body of Jesus was thus "wound" in linen (John, 19 : 40). To use the words of Dean Farrar, they rolled "the fine linen round and round the wounded limbs" (Farrar, Life of Christ, 420). The "neck and face of the body were doubtless left bare" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 808), and the body was laid in a sepulchre which was hewn in stone (Isa., 22 : 16 is an appropriate parallel: "Thou… that giveth an habitation for himself in a rock…"). All this was done, before sunset, that is before the Sabbath drew on (Luke, 24: 53-54).

We are further told that the women were also anxious to provide "spices and ointment for the same purpose (Mark, 16: 1; Luke, 23 : 55-56). They came to the sepulchre in the end of the Sabbath (Mark, 16: 1), that is, late on the Sabbath day (between midnight and dawn) to embalm his body (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 719).

The supply having been found insufficient the women had to bring more on the morning after the Sabbath when it was still dark (Luke, 24 : 1). The constant application of this ointment, the famous Marham-i-Isa (the Ointment of Jesus) to the body of Jesus healed the wounds and caused the blood to circulate freely in the body.

It may be mentioned here that this Marham-i-Isa is not an imaginary thing. Its prescription has been known to history and it has been mentioned by this very name in numerous ancient Oriental medical treatises. It is stated therein that it was applied to the wounds of Jesus when he was taken off the cross. I have come across some thirty-six such books; and there may be many more which I have not seen. I will, however, mention only a few, the most important of them: Qanun-i-Bu`Ali Sina (the world-renowned Canon of Avicenna (Vol. 1 : 133); Shari-i-Qanun by `Allama Qutb-ud-Din Shirazi (Vol. 3 : 75); Kamil-us-Saaa`ah by 'Ali Ibnul-`Abbas Al-Majusi (Vol. 2 : 602), Majrnu `a-i-Bagai by Mahmud Muhammad Isma'il Mukhatib Khagani (Vol. 2 : 497); Tazkira-i-ulul-Albab by Shaikh Dawud uz-Dzarir-al-Antaki (p. 303); Qarabadin-i-Rumi (Vol. 4 : 511), which was translated into Arabic from the original Greek in the reign of Caliph Ma'mun; Umdatul-Muhtaj by Shaikh Ahmad bin Hasan-ur-Rashidi al-Hakim (Vol. 1 : 189).

The women, to resume the narrative, could not have been preparing for a separate ritual, as has been alleged by some, in ignorance of the action of Joseph and Nicodemus, because they were present when these two men embalmed the body of Jesus (Matt., 27 : 61).

I have already mentioned that, contrary to all Jewish practice, the neck and face of Jesus were left uncovered. The tomb was not filled in or covered with earth, as was usually done by the Jews under the belief that their so doing kept evil spirits from the dead body, but only a stone, Golal, was rolled over the sepulchre. Why? The secret friends wanted to avoid suffocation of Jesus. There was another reason also. To resuscitate Jesus, they would have had to open the tomb at short intervals. Apart from being cumbersome, the digging operations would have been an open challenge to the Jews. To avoid all possibilities of any such detection a stone only was rolled over the sepulchre. The Eye-Witness gives another reason:

"They then smoked the grotto with aloe and other strengthening herbs .... and they placed a large stone in front of the entrance so that the vapours might better fill the grotto" (The Crucifixion, 75).

It was for these reasons that a private garden (John, 19 : 41) was selected. The pre-arranged plan was well thought out and succeeded in the end.

Now Matthew alone says that on the following day the sepulchre was sealed and a watch was placed before it. It is not clear whether the guards were within or without the garden. Then an angel appeared, clad in white shining garments, and rolled the stone away. The guards became so terrified that they became as dead (Matt., 28 : 4) and fled to the city and gave an account to the chief priest who, after deliberations in an assembly with the elders, decided to bribe the soldiers to tell a lie and say that the body of Jesus had been stolen by night by the disciples of Jesus (Matt., 28 : 12-14). But this narrative is ridiculous on the face of it. To begin with, no mention is made anywhere else in the New Testament of the report of the soldiers to the chief priest, and in any case the soldiers ought to have reported to Pilate in the first instance. Secondly, it is unimaginable that the Sanhedrin in assembly, most of whom were Sadducees, would have believed the information so credible as to act on it. They would not have believed it and, in any case, they would not have taken any action without verifying the truth of this highly suspicious report. If they on enquiry had found the report to be true they would have charged the soldiers before Pilate for having allowed the body to be so stolen. It is impossible to believe that a college of seventy men would have officially decided on suggesting a falsehood and rewarding the person agreeing to tell a lie.

Again, it is not possible to imagine that Pilate would have readily accepted the representation of the Jews. Indeed, from what little we know of him from the Gospels he must have remained unmoved. Roman soldiers knew too well the strictness with which discipline was administered and the promises to obtain immunity would have made no impression on them. They knew that the penalty for dereliction of duty was death. In the Acts, we actually find AgrippaI sentencing to death the soldiers who had allowed Peter to escape from prison (Acts, 12: 19).

The whole story is plainly absurd and a result of pure invention, and it was concocted to create evidence of the resurrection. Matthew in fact betrays himself by explaining that the bargain which was thus concluded in secret was not kept a secret for he alleges that:

"This saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day" (Matt., 28 : 15).

Peake in his Commentary on the Bible says:

"The story arose as a reply to Jews who averred that the disciples had removed the body of Jesus" (Peake, Commentary on the Bible, 722).

The compilers of the Encyclopaedia Biblica say:

"The sealing and watching of the sepulchre is now very gradually given up even by those scholars who still hold by the resurrection narrative as a whole" (Ency. Biblica, Col. 4065).

And they come to the final conclusion that:

"The whole story is a very late production" (Ibid., Col. 4066).

I have already referred to the prophetic comparison made by Jesus himself to the fate which befell Jonah. This indeed was a true comparison: Jesus was buried alive and he came out of the tomb alive. Nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus represented as asserting his resurrection in the sense Christianity understands it to be. He prophesied that he would "rise again" and so he did: for he did "rise again" out of the very jaws of death.

Before dealing with the question of the resurrection, there is one fact which I must mention: the whole of Christian antiquity was ignorant of this tomb of Jesus until it was rediscovered in Palestine under Constantine in 326 C.E. "by the inspiration of the Saviour and the result of a Divine revelation" (Eusebius, Vita Const., 3 : 26). I have mentioned this fact as it has a bearing on the resurrection of Jesus from this tomb.

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Books Section > Jesus in Heaven on Earth [Journey of Jesus to Kashmir, his preaching to the Lost Tribes of Israel and death and burial in Srinagar] by Khwaja Nazir Ahmad > Chapter 11: Burial (of Jesus Christ)

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