Who took Jesus off the Cross

Who Took Jesus Off the Cross? Unveiling the Mystery of the Burial 2024

When we explore the pivotal moments of Christian history, one question that often arises is who took Jesus off the cross. This event, steeped in religious significance, highlights a profound act of devotion and respect towards the figure at the heart of Christianity. According to the Gospel of John, it was Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus, who bravely stepped forward to claim Jesus' body from Pontius Pilate.

Our curiosity leads us to realize that Joseph of Arimathea was not alone in this sacred task. Accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who previously visited Jesus by night to seek his teachings, they took the body down from the cross. Together, they prepared Jesus for burial, wrapping him in linens and anointing him with spices, as was the custom of the time. The care they exhibited in the midst of turmoil speaks volumes about their dedication and bravery.

Biblical Accounts

Jesus on the cross

We find an intriguing answer to "who took Jesus off the cross" within the rich tapestry of the Gospel narratives. Let's examine the scriptural details.

Gospel Narratives

According to the Bible, specifically the Gospel of Matthew (27:57-60), Gospel of Mark (15:42-46), Gospel of Luke (23:50-53), and the Gospel of John (19:38-42), a respected member of the council named Joseph of Arimathea requested Pontius Pilate for the body of Jesus. These carefully curated accounts provide a harmonious testament to the compassion and courage displayed by Joseph, who is described as waiting for the kingdom of God. 

Crucifixion Details

The crucifixion details provide a significant context to the event of Jesus' removal from the cross. It is a moment depicted with profound solemnity across all accounts. The two other men crucified alongside Jesus are often a point of inquiry, and although their names are not provided, Luke 23:39-43 highlights an interaction suggesting one of the individuals recognized Jesus' divinity. Recognition of the sheer gravity of these moments is pivotal, further ingraining the image of Joseph's bold act in collective memory.

Key Figures

When discovering who took Jesus off the cross, we encounter Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two pivotal figures who played crucial roles in this significant moment.

Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph of Arimathea is renowned for requesting Jesus' body from Pontius Pilate. He provided a new tomb for Jesus' burial. According to the Bible, Joseph was a wealthy man, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a secret follower of Jesus. His actions showed immense courage as he stepped forward to care for Jesus' body when most had abandoned him. This act of burying Jesus is significant, as it fulfilled the prophecy and showed reverence for the deceased.


Nicodemus, who first appears in the Bible as a Pharisee querying Jesus about his teachings, emerged to assist Joseph of Arimathea. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus' body, participating in the preparation for burial. His contribution with these burial spices was a sign of respect and indicated that he, too, was a follower of Christ, even though he had previously been a member of the Jewish council that was hostile to Jesus.

Historical Context

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross

When we ponder the important question, who took Jesus off the cross, it's vital to grasp the historical setting of Roman Judea and the events post-crucifixion.

Jewish Burial Customs

The Jewish custom of promptly burying the dead was deeply ingrained in their culture. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 stresses that a hanged man should not remain on the tree overnight, grounding the urgent care given to Jesus' body. Burial typically took place before sundown on the day of death, particularly when the following day was the Sabbath, as noted in the case of Jesus.

Roman Practices

Under Roman rule, the practice of crucifixion was a brutal form of public execution, yet local customs around burial were often respected. It was Pontius Pilate who granted permission for Jesus' body to be removed from the cross, reflecting a Roman willingness, in some cases, to bend to these customs. However, the act of removing the body required express authorization, which we find was given to Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish council.

Artistic Representations

When exploring who took Jesus off the cross, we witness remarkable interpretations through art across various periods. Each era offers a unique lens, capturing this pivotal moment with its distinctive stylistic approach.

Medieval Art

In the Medieval period, art was largely defined by its religious significance and portrayal of biblical narratives. The descent from the cross, or "Deposition of Christ," was a common theme. Illuminated manuscripts and panel paintings from this era often depicted Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as the figures responsible for taking Jesus off the cross. These illustrations were not just about literal representations; they embodied the solemnity and spirituality of the event.

Renaissance Depictions

Renaissance art brought with it an energized focus on realism and human emotion. Artists like Michelangelo and Caravaggio painted the scene with an intense emphasis on the human form and the emotional gravity of the moment. They often showed a group effort in the lowering of Christ, blending the divine narrative with the very human expression of grief and effort. Notably, in some of these works, Mary Magdalene is also present, mourning at the foot of the cross.

Theological Significance

When we explore who took Jesus off the cross, we're delving into a moment that holds profound theological import not just in the narrative of Christ's death, but also in the doctrines and beliefs that shape Christianity.

Christian Doctrine

The act of Joseph of Arimathea requesting Pilate for Jesus’ body and his subsequent burial is a significant element in Christian doctrine, as it is seen as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Christianity teaches that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for the redemption of humankind's sins. His burial, handled by a figure like Joseph—who was a member of the Council but did not consent to their decision on Jesus—reflects the belief that Jesus was honored even in death by those who followed him in sincerity.

Symbolic Interpretations

The narrative surrounding the removal of Jesus from the cross is laden with symbolic interpretations. For many, Joseph of Arimathea's actions symbolize an act of courage and devotion amidst widespread fear and persecution. Symbolically, the descent from the cross and the care given to Jesus’ body are often considered a reflection of the human responsibility to honor the sanctity of the sacred and to serve with humility.

Our thoughts about who took Jesus off the cross

Jesus off the cross

When we think about the crucifixion, one lingering question that excites us is: who took Jesus off the cross? This poignant moment marks a critical juncture in the Biblical accounts of Jesus' death and has sparked countless pieces of artwork and passionate discussions.

From our comprehensive research, we've found that it was Joseph of Arimathea who received permission to take down Jesus' body. Here are some engaging details about him:

  • Role: A secret disciple of Jesus.
  • Status: Prominent member of the local council.
  • Action: Requested Jesus' body from Pilate (Matthew 27:57-60).

Joseph's involvement is significant because it reflects the courage and devotion of an unexpected follower, given his high-standing position in society which was largely against Jesus at the time.

Another fascinating aspect is the two men crucified alongside Jesus, often referred to as thieves or criminals. Although the Bible doesn't provide their names, their presence further illustrates the humility of Jesus' death, dying amongst those deemed the lowest in society.

What truly rallies our curiosity is how Joseph's boldness interplays with his secretive discipleship, a juxtaposition that humanizes the Biblical narrative and brings forward a complex character in the history of Christianity. This powerful image of Joseph taking Jesus from the cross not only symbolizes the end of the earthly journey for Christ but also the unwavering faith of hidden believers.

What are your thoughts on who took Jesus from the cross? let us know in the comments!

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