Image source: photographed at the San Gabriel Mission Museum.
As you look at the faces of the women in the painting, they are in grief and saddened by what has happened.
Matthew 27:55-56 (NRSV)
Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Jesus and his immediately family were probably not very wealthy and thus there were no burial plans given how suddenly his life came to an end.
When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.
However, God provided for Jesus in the form of Joseph of Arimathea who boldly asked for the body and prepared it for a placement in the tomb. I think I heard a podcast by R.C. Sproul who said that this was the beginning of Jesus’ exaltation in that he was placed in the tomb of a wealthy man and culminating in the glory of resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God!
The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid.
The story of Nicodemus comes full circle. He had visited Jesus back in John 3:1-21 and didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. But God was not finished with Nicodemus and apparently at some point after that encounter, he came to be a follower of Jesus.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
— Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend