St. Augustine, Tractate 120 (Commentary on John 19: 31 - 20:9)
And after this, Joseph of Arimathea (being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night at first, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.We are not to explain the meaning by saying,
first bringing a mixture of myrrh,but by attaching the word
firstto the preceding clause. For Nicodemus had at first come to Jesus by night, as recorded by this same John in the earlier portions of his Gospel. By the statement given us here, therefore, we are to understand that Nicodemus came to Jesus, not then only, but then for the firsttime; and that he was a regular comer afterwards, in order by hearing to become a disciple; which is certified, nowadays at least, to almost all nations in the revelation of the body of the most blessed Stephen.
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.The evangelist, I think, was not without a purpose in so framing his words,
as the manner of the Jews is tobury;for in this way, unless I am mistaken, he has admonished us that, in duties of this kind, which are observed to the dead, the customs of every nation ought to be preserved.
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.As in the womb of the Virgin Mary no one was conceived before Him, and no one after Him, so in this sepulchre there was no one buried before Him, and no one after Him.
There laid they Jesustherefore, because of the Jews' preparation; for the sepulchre was near at hand.He would have us to understand that the burial was hurried, lest the evening should overtake them; when it was no longer permitted to do any such thing, because of the preparation, which the Jews among us are more in the habit of calling in Latin, cœna pura (the pure meal).