Sunday, October 30, 2016

John Session 19

The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday morning Adult Bible Study is embarking on an exhaustive study of the book of John.  Of the four gospels, John’s gospel presents Jesus as God most forcefully. John explicitly declared Jesus to be God who brought all things into existence. John’s gospel confirmed that Jesus was YHVH of the Jews . He is light and life .   These are the notes of that study along with the recorded audio of the session. 

Jesus' trial before Pilate

In chapter 18 Jesus was arrested, they held the kangaroo court at the High Priest’s compound, where Peter denied Him, and then to Pilate where he was sentenced.   

At the High Priest’s place they tried to get Him to incriminate Himself.

John 18:19-23 (NKJV)19  The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.20  Jesus answered him, "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.21  Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said."22  And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, "Do You answer the high priest like that?"23  Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?"

He didn’t so they took Him to Pilate’s residence, the Praetorium.  Pilate saw through them and realized that Jesus really wasn’t guilty of any crime.   He didn’t really want to have anything to do with the whole thing.  

John 18:28-32 (NKJV)28  Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.29  Pilate then went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this Man?"30  They answered and said to him, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you."31  Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your law." Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,"32  that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

So Pilate wanted to let Jesus go free. And Pilate wanted the Jewish leaders to request this themselves by asking for Barabbas’ release at Passover which was the custom for the Roman governor.  

But the Jewish leaders refused. Instead, they wanted Barabbas to go free. The other three Gospels also mention Barabbas. From their descriptions, we know that Barabbas had led some Jews in Jerusalem to fight against the Romans. He was also guilty of murder.

John 18:38-40 (NKJV)38  Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all.39  "But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"40  Then they all cried again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.  

John only describes the first hearing at the High Priest’s residence and the time with Pilate.  The other gospels fill in more detail of that night and the next day.  

The night of Jesus’ arrest, He was brought before Annas, Caiaphas, and an assembly of religious leaders called the Sanhedrin John 18:19-24.

After this He was taken before Pilate John 18:23.

Then He was sent off to Herod and back to Pilate where He was sentenced to death.  

Luke 23:6-12 (NKJV)6  When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean.
7  And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.8  Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.9  Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.10  And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.11  Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.12  That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.

Chapter 19 Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified

The New Testament does blame the Jewish leaders for condemning Jesus to die. But they weren't acting alone. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, also condemned Jesus to die. He did so even though he knew that Jesus was innocent. There is a sense, too, in which we killed Jesus. He died for our sins and in our place. The most amazing answer to the question of who killed Jesus is that no one did! Jesus said, "No one takes my life from me. I lay it down of my own choice."

John 10:17-18 (NKJV)17  Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.18  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

John 19:1-4 (NKJV)1  So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.2  And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe.3  Then they said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck Him with their hands.4  Pilate then went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him."

At Pilate's order the prisoner was scourged. This was  Pilate’s second shot at releasing Jesus.  The first one failed because of the preference for Barabbas. Pilate thought the Jews might be satisfied if Jesus were humiliated and made to suffer a beating.  The Lord had predicted.

Matthew 20:18-19 (NKJV)18  "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death,19  and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again."

And Isaiah prophesied;

Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)5  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

John 19:5-11 (NKJV)5  Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold the Man!"6  Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him."7  The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God."8  Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid,9  and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer.10  Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?"11  Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."

Pilate insisted still that Jesus was not guilty of any crime. He wanted the Jews to take the blame for Jesus’ death.

The Jewish leaders then referred to their own laws instead of Roman law.  For the first time, the Jewish leaders told Pilate that Jesus had claimed to be God’s Son. This made Pilate afraid. There are two possible reasons for Pilate’s reaction. Perhaps he was afraid that Jesus really was God’s son. And therefore, Jesus could use his special powers against Pilate if Pilate condemned him. But there is another possible reason for Pilate’s reaction. The  Emperor called himself a son of a god. So it was a serious crime for anybody else to claim to be the son of a god. Perhaps Pilate thought that this was Jesus’ crime. So Pilate needed to ask Jesus more questions. Pilate wanted to know if this was true.

Pilate’s question, “where do you come from”,  was very important. Jesus had been born in Bethlehem. He had lived in Nazareth. But, actually, he had come from heaven.

But Jesus did not answer the question. He had done miracles. He had talked much about God, his Father. He had said that he was the only way to God. So he had already shown where he was from.

Jesus’ silence annoyed Pilate. Perhaps he thought that by asserting his authority and advancing the reminder that life or death hung on his verdict, he could make Jesus talk. Jesus talked, but only to state to Pilate his limitations.

Pilate thought that he had complete control over the situation. This was because he could order his soldiers to crucify Jesus or he could let Jesus go free.    Pilate was really trying to find a way to let Jesus go but Jesus wasn’t helping.    But, in fact, God was in control of everything that was happening. Jesus knew this. He knew that God had allowed his arrest and his trial to happen. He also knew that he had to die. He had to die so that he could save us. This was God’s plan.

Jesus last statement to Pilate was that he didn’t have any power over Him that wasn’t given to him from heaven.  The power was heaven’s not his so the one with the greater sin than Pilate’s was Caiaphas.  It wasn’t Judas because he was only the means used to deliver Jesus to Pilate.  

John 19:12-16 (NKJV)12  From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar."13  When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.14  Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"15  But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"16  Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.

Pilate had to make a decision about what would happen to Jesus. He believed that Jesus was innocent. But the Jewish leaders and the crowd persuaded Pilate to crucify Jesus. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus so much that they plotted to kill him. Jesus said that this was an even greater sin than Pilate’s sin.   Pilate could have refused to do what the Jewish leaders wanted. But he gave in to their demands. So he, too, was responsible for Jesus’ death.

The views then used one final tactic.   They told him he wasn’t Caesar's friend. Here was a threat to take the case to the imperial court. Caesar would not have looked lightly upon a situation in which one was known as a king without Roman consent. He would have viewed this as treason and might well have charged Pilate with inattention to duty. No doubt the governor feared that if a complaint were made regarding his handling of this case, other irregularities in his administration would come to light. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

Most of the Jewish leaders hated the Romans. They wanted to be free from Roman rule. But they hated Jesus even more. Although he was their real king and their Messiah, they rejected him. They pretended instead that they were loyal to the Emperor. So, at last, Pilate made his decision. He ordered Jesus’ death.

So Pilate brought Jesus out again, so that he could judge Jesus in front of them all.

The day of Preparation was normally Friday the day that people prepared for the Sabbath.  This would have been the Friday of Passover week.  

John says that it was the sixth hour but in Mark it says that Jesus was crucified at the third hour.  

Mark 15:25 (NKJV)25  Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.

That would have been 9 in the morning so other Bible think that John means 6 o’clock in the morning here. (That would be Roman time. See note on John 1:39.)
The Crucifixion - John 19:17-27

John 19:17-18 (NKJV)17  And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,18  where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.
The *Romans crucified many people. It was a common punishment. It was very cruel. The soldiers forced the person to carry his own cross through the streets. Because all of this was done publicly it  warned people not to oppose the *Romans.

The Romans*crucified people in different ways. Sometimes, they tied the person to the cross with ropes (very thick string). But they fixed Jesus to his cross with nails. They hammered the nails through his hands and his feet. Then they lifted the cross up and they fixed it in the ground.

John 19:19-22 (NKJV)19  Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.20  Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.21  Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'He said, "I am the King of the Jews." ' "22  Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."  

The Romans often wrote notices that described the person’s crimes. Sometimes, they hung the notice on the person’s neck. But Pilate put the notice on Jesus’ cross, where everybody could see it. He wrote it in the three main languages, so that everybody could read it.

He was mocking the Jews.   The very publicity given the title (three languages) as well as the implication behind it, incensed the Jews, so that the chief priests requested that the wording be changed from a fact to a claim. This Pilate refused to do, showing an unyieldingness which sharply contrasts with his weakness during the trial.

John 19:23-27 (NKJV)23  Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.24  They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things.25  Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.26  When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!"27  Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

Four soldiers took part in the crucifixion. These took as personal spoil the garments of Jesus, dividing them among themselves. Sandals, headdress, outer garment (himation), and girdle were likely distributed, leaving the more valuable coat or tunic (chit┼Źn) for the casting of lots. The soldiers unconsciously fulfilled Scripture by their actions

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

Psalm 22:18 (NKJV)18  They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.

Often, when people are suffering, they can only think about themselves. Although Jesus was suffering very much, still he thought about his mother.  Jesus was Mary’s first son. So it was his duty to look after her.

We know that Jesus had brothers (for example, Mark 4:31). But, at that time, these brothers (or cousins) were not Jesus’ followers. And it seems that only one disciple had stayed with Jesus by the cross. This was probably John (see note on John 13:23-25). Jesus trusted John. So Jesus told John to look after his (Jesus’) mother. And Mary went to live with John, as a member of his family.

The Death of Jesus - John 19:28-37

In Jesus' day execution was designed to be public and painful. The account of the crucifixion is not easy to read. You may be tempted to think that Jesus' death was a cruel mistake. It wasn't. Jesus' life was not taken from him; he laid it down willingly. It was part of his plan—a plan that included you and me. His cross was in a very real sense our cross.

John 19:28-30 (NKJV)28  After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!"29  Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.30  So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

The physical need of the sufferer asserted itself, the only outward indication he permitted to escape his lips. Even so, he stated a fact rather than voicing an appeal.
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

Jesus’ death on the cross was the most important part of God’s plan to save people. Jesus knew this. He had done everything necessary to save us. He knew that soon he would die.

But before he died, he spoke twice. First he said that he was thirsty. There are three places in the Scriptures that could refer to Jesus’ words.

Psalm 22:15 (NKJV)15  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.

Psalm 22:15. This is a reference to physical thirst.

Psalm 69:21 (NKJV)21  They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Psalm 69:21. This is a reference to the cheap wine that the soldiers gave to Jesus.

Psalm 42:2 (NKJV)2  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:2. This is a reference to spiritual thirst. The author wrote that his spirit was thirsty for God. His spirit needed God like his body needed water.

His next statement was “It is finished”.  Look at

Matthew 27:50 (NKJV)50  And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

Mark 15:37 (NKJV)37  And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

He spoke in a loud voice like someone who had completed a great victory.  Jesus died  as victor.  He completed what He came to do.  

Jesus had paid the price for the sins of everybody in the world, past, present, and future. Before this, people had to sacrifice animals. This was the only way to pay for sins, so that God could forgive them. Then the people were *clean again and they could come to him. However, every time that they sinned, they had to sacrifice another animal.

But Jesus paid the full price for all sins. We do not need to sacrifice animals. Jesus became the only sacrifice that we need.

Hebrews 10:11-18 (NKJV)11  And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.12  But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,13  from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.14  For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.15  But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,
16  "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,"17  then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."18  Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

God will forgive everybody who believes in Jesus. Although we may sin again and again, he can forgive us. We must tell him that we have done wrong things. We must say that we are sorry. We must repent. If we do all this, God will forgive us. Jesus has taken the punishment that we should have. His death has saved us.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV)9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Jesus had finished his work on earth. John was present at the cross and he saw these things. Perhaps, at that moment, John realised that Jesus was ready to die.

John 19:31-37 (NKJV)31  Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.32  Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him.33  But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.34  But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.35  And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.36  For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken."37  And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."

Only a short time remained before sunset and the coming of another day. No matter what the day, the Law required the removal of victims from the cross on the day of death

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (NKJV)22  "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.

To have disregarded this law at Passover time would have been an especially heinous violation of the Sabbath. The breaking of the legs was designed to hasten death.
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

Also, the Law did not allow them to work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath started on Friday evening, after it became dark. It was ‘work’ to take the dead bodies away. So the Jewish leaders wanted to take the bodies away before evening.

When the *Romans crucified a person, they put a piece of wood on the cross, under the person’s feet. The Romans did not want a criminal to die quickly. Because of this piece of wood, criminals would suffer for a long time before they died. They could support their own weight if they pushed up with their feet. This helped them to breathe. If they could not support themselves, the weight of their body made it very difficult to breathe. So, to make them die quickly, the Romans would break their legs.

The soldiers did this to the two men whom they had *crucified with Jesus. But they realised that Jesus was already dead. So they did not break his legs.

When the Jews *sacrificed lambs at the *Passover, the Law did not allow them to break any bones.

Exodus 12:46 (NKJV)46  In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.

Numbers 9:12 (NKJV)12  They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.

Jesus was the final sacrifice for everybody’s sins. He was called God’s lamb.

John 1:29 (NKJV)29  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

The author John wanted to emphasise this. He also referred to two verses in the scriptures which were *prophecies about Jesus’ death. The first one was Psalm 34:20 and the second one was Zechariah 12:10.

Psalm 34:20 (NKJV)20  He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.  

Zechariah 12:10 (NKJV)10  "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

There are medical reasons why blood and water flowed from Jesus’ body.

Those who were flogged would often go into hypovolemic shock, a term that refers to low blood volume. In other words, the person would have lost so much blood he would go into shock. The results of this would be

1) The heart would race to pump blood that was not there.

2) The victim would collapse or faint due to low blood pressure.

3) The kidneys would shut down to preserve body fluids.

4) The person would experience extreme thirst as the body desired to replenish lost fluids.

Prior to death, the sustained rapid heartbeat caused by hypovolemic shock also causes fluid to gather in the sack around the heart and around the lungs. This gathering of fluid in the membrane around the heart is called pericardial effusion, and the fluid gathering around the lungs is called pleural effusion. This explains why, after Jesus died and a Roman soldier thrust a spear through Jesus’ side, piercing both the lungs and the heart, blood and water came from His side

John also wanted his readers to understand the *spiritual meaning of these real, physical events. Jesus’ blood poured out so that we could receive God’s *salvation. In order that God will forgive us, we cannot have a *sacrifice without blood (Hebrews 9:22). The water reminds us about the new life that Jesus offers to us. This new *life is possible only because Jesus *sacrificed his own life on our behalf.

John attaches singular importance to this incident, for he solemnly bears record to it. The death of the Saviour means a life-giving flow: blood for the cleansing from sin and water for the representation of the new life in the Spirit - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

The Burial of Jesus

John 19:38-42 (NKJV)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.

Joseph was a rich man and a disciple of Jesus which means that He believed in Him although secretly.  He was a member of the Sanhedrin.  The Sanhedrin was an assembly of twenty-three to seventy-one men appointed in every city in the Land of Israel.  The Sanhedrin as a body claimed powers that lesser Jewish courts did not have. As such, they were the only ones who could try the king, extend the boundaries of the Temple and Jerusalem, and were the ones to whom all questions of law were finally put.   He had not agreed to their decision to charge Jesus before Pilate.  

Luke 23:50-51 (NKJV)50  Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man.51  He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.

Mark 15:43 (NKJV)43  Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

As a member of the Sanhedrin it would have been hard for him to to openly support Jesus because these guys were the final authorities with regard to the law.   

Remember what we talked about when the Pharisees questioned the blind man’s parents?  

John 9:18-23 (NLT)18  The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents.19  They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”20  His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind,21  but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.”22  His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.23  That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”

The Jewish leaders had decided to punish anybody who believed in Jesus. They would not allow that person to meet with other Jews in the synagogue. Any Jew would consider that this was a terrible punishment.

Before we get too hard on him remember those closest followers those He called friends all ran when He was arrested.  

He got up enough courage to ask Pilate, along with Nicodemus if he could take Jesus body so that he could bury it.  He had to get permission because crucifixion was a long process so they had to get permission otherwise people could take their crucified friends before they died and revive them.  

That may be why John was so careful to describe the soldier sticking the spear in Jesus side to insure that He was dead because Jesus enemies could say that He really wasn’t dead and the resurrection was a hoax.    John is the only one who includes this in his gospel.  

We remember Nicodemus from chapter 3  

John 3:1-2 (NKJV)1  There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.2  This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."  

It may have been because he was afraid to come by day in fear of his Pharisee friends and other members of the Sanhedrin.

It was Nicodemus who Jesus told that salvation was like being born again.  

John 3:3 (NKJV)3  Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Jewish graves were caves. People cut these caves out of rocks. The caves were big enough for two people to walk inside. People put the dead body on a shelf in the cave, after they had wrapped it in cloths.

After they had put a body inside, they rolled a large rock across the entrance. This rock would make sure that thieves could not enter the grave. And the rock also kept the bad smell inside.

Remember Lazarus?  

John 11:38-39 (NKJV)38  Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.39  Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days."

Matthew 27:59-60 (NKJV)59  When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,60  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.

Joseph and Nicodemus had to finish their work quickly. It was nearly evening, at the start of the Sabbath.  More complete preparation of the body could be made after the Sabbath
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

Next week the resurrection!