Luke reported two unexpected acts after Jesus died. The Roman centurion, after directing the crucifixion, “praised God, saying, ‘It’s really true: this man was righteous.’” That testimony might have been especially telling to a person like Theophilus (cf. Luke 1:1-4). The Romans meant crucifixion to create humiliation and fear, so they often left crucified corpses in the open. Belatedly, Joseph of Arimathea, a council member and silent dissenter at Jesus’ mock trial, went public to give the body a decent burial. No one expected the resurrection, but Joseph’s act unwittingly made Easter more powerful, because Jesus’ friends knew just where his body was.
- Scholar N. T. Wright sums up today’s passage: “It really happened. It wasn’t a mistake. We didn’t get it wrong. It’s true. You can rely on it. This is the main point of Luke’s account of Jesus’ death and burial. He began his book telling Theophilus he could rely on these facts, and now that the most vital one is before us he presents his witnesses one by one. The centurion saw … The crowds standing by saw … Jesus’ followers, not least the women, stood at some distance, but they too saw … Then the burial: again, the women saw what happened … Evidence. Eyewitnesses. This is what Luke promised, and this is what he’s now giving us.” Every witness, every fact was vital—on Easter, an otherwise incredible, one-of-a-kind event was coming. Ponder how different Jesus’ impact on your life would be if the story ended here.