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Key Lessons from the Burial of Jesus Christ

The Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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1. God wants to give us the courage to be committed (vs. 38-39). 2. God wants us to care for the body of Christ (vs. 40-42). 3. God wants us to be part of His plan (vs. 41-42).

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Key Lessons from the Burial of Jesus Christ

John 19:38-42

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - July 18, 2018

(Revised June 27, 2020)

MESSAGE:

*In tonight's Scripture God's Word tells us about the burial of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Usually when we think about Jesus, we think about the Christmas story, or the Lord's miracles, His wonderful teaching, His death on the cross, and His glorious resurrection on the first Easter Sunday.

*Think for a moment about that first Easter morning. What picture comes to mind? -- Probably the empty tomb with the stone rolled away. We almost never think about that heavy stone being rolled into place. We almost never think about the Lord's burial. But God has some important lessons for us from the burial of Jesus Christ.

*The Bible doesn't give us many of the details, but vs. 38-40 tell us that after Jesus died:

38. . . 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.

*Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus buried the lifeless body of Jesus Christ. Why? -- Because He had died on the cross for our sins. John 19:30 tells us that "when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit."

*Many people believe that Jesus really didn't die on the cross. Michael Luke explained that "they say that Jesus merely passed out from the torture, pain, and the exhaustion of the crucifixion. So, when they took Him down from the cross, He only seemed dead. They literally believe that Jesus was buried alive. Then after 3 days, He was revived by the cool air of the tomb, and walked out under His own power.

*Of course, if you believe that, then you believe Jesus not only survived the crucifixion, but He also untangled himself from heavy, tightly-wound grave cloths, moved the huge stone that sealed the tomb, and overpowered the soldiers guarding the tomb. You also believe that Jesus did all these things without having food and water for three days." (1)

*Jesus was buried because He was dead. A woman once wrote this note to J. Vernon McGee: "On Easter our preacher said that Jesus just swooned on the cross, and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think?"

*Dr. McGee replied, "Dear sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross, hang him in the sun for six hours, run a spear through his heart, embalm him, put him in an airless tomb for three days, and see what happens!" (2)

*Jesus Christ was buried because He died on the cross for our sins. What can we learn from the burial of Christ?

1. FIRST: GOD WANTS TO GIVE US THE COURAGE TO BE COMMITTED.

*God wants to give us the same kind of courage we see in the two men who took charge of the Lord's burial. One of them was Joseph of Arimathea. In vs. 38 Joseph "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."

*Joseph of Arimathea was a good man. Mark 15:43 tells us that he was an honorable counselor, who was waiting for the kingdom of God. Luke 23:50-51 says this about Joseph: "And behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their counsel and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God."

*Joseph of Arimathea was a good and godly man, but up to this point he had been a secret disciple, because he was afraid. He was afraid of the Christ-rejecting Jewish leaders because they could totally ruin Joseph's life if they wanted to.

*Joseph had been afraid, but here he went to Pilate the Governor and boldly pleaded for the body of Jesus. What happened? Why was Joseph so bold? Where did he get his courage?

[1] CHURCH: IT CAME FROM HIS TRUST IN GOD!

*God had a special job for Joseph, and God gave him all the courage he needed to get the job done. Now, we can trust God to give us the courage to do what He wants us to do.

*Our faith can overcome our fears just like David declared in Psalm 56. There in vs. 1-4, David began with a prayer, and said:

1. Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; Fighting all day he oppresses me.

2. My enemies would hound me all day, for there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

3. WHENEVER I AM AFRAID, I WILL TRUST IN YOU.

4. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?

*King David was a mighty warrior, but he still had fears, and so will we. But David never let his fears overwhelm his faith. He prayed to the Lord and said, "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."

*Yes, there will be times when we are afraid, but we must have David's determination to keep trusting in the Lord! Also notice that talking about our trust helps to build up our faith and our courage. So, David went on to say, "In God (I will praise His word)."

*David wanted to remind himself (and us) that when the situation is unsure, God is still sure! God's Word is still sure. And we can keep trusting in the Lord.

[2] JOSEPH'S COURAGE MUST HAVE COME FROM HIS TRUST IN GOD. IT ALSO CAME FROM THE LEADERSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

*We know that God's Spirit was leading Joseph, because God was working to fulfill a prophecy He sent 700 years before Jesus was born. And now, Christians, God's Spirit is living in our hearts to give us courage, strength, and all of the good things God wants us to have.

*God's Spirit is patiently and steadily working in our lives, and He uses our circumstances to help us get ready for new challenges. Vance Havner explained it this way: "Sometimes your medicine bottle has on it, 'Shake well before using.' Well, that is what God has to do with some of His people. He has to shake them well before they are ever usable." (3)

*Church: I get some of those "shakings" from time to time, -- and so will you. But we can trust God to give us the courage to do anything He wants us to do!

*Stuart Hamblen mentioned this kind of courage in a song he wrote after he got saved in 1949. Stuart was a very successful singer/songwriter, who wrote country and western songs. He was successful in the eyes of the world, but spiritually as lost as he could be. Stuart was a heavy drinker, and before he got saved, he wrote one song called, "I won't go hunting with you Jake but I'll go chasing women." -- Nice. Stuart had been in some western movies, including some that starred John Wayne.

*Then Stuart got saved at a Billy Graham Crusade. After he got saved, Stuart saw John Wayne at a party, and Wayne asked, "What's this I hear. You got religion?"

*Stuart answered, "It is no secret what God can do in a man's life." John Wayne replied, "Well that sounds like a song." And that was the inspiration for the lyrics of this song Stuart later wrote:

"The chimes of time ring out the news, Another day is through.

Someone slipped and fell. Was that someone you?

You may have longed for added strength, Your courage to renew.

Do not be disheartened, For I have news for you.

It is no secret what God can do. -- What He's done for others, He'll do for you.

With arms wide open, He'll pardon you. -- It is no secret what God can do." (4)

2. GOD WANTS TO GIVE US THE COURAGE TO BE COMMITTED. HE ALSO WANTS US TO CARE FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST.

*God's Word helps us see this truth in vs. 38-42:

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 and Nicodemus took care of the Lord's physical body that day. But now, the Church is also the body of Christ. All true Christians are part of the spiritual body of our risen Savior Jesus Christ. God's Word clearly confirms this truth in the New Testament.

*In Romans 12:3-5 Paul said:

3. For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

4. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function,

5. in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. (CSB)

*Ephesians 1:22-23 tells us that God the Father put all things under the feet of Jesus, "and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."

*And in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Paul said, "For as the body (our human body) is one and has many (parts), but all the (parts) of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free and have all been made to drink into one Spirit."

*God's Word tells us that the Church is the spiritual Body of Christ, made up of Christians all over the world. And God wants us to help take care of His Body.

[1] SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO STAND IN THE GAP.

*That's what Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were doing here. I say this in part because the 11 disciples had run away. Jesus had told them this in Mark 14:27, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered."

*Peter, James and John were gone at this crucial hour. And this reminds us that even God's best will get sick, tired, discouraged and scared. Even God's best can't always be there to do the job, so God wants us to be willing to stand in the gap for others.

*John Phillips gave another reason why it may have been crucial for Joseph to stand in the gap. Phillips pointed out that the Apostle John "might have had courage enough to seek an audience with Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. But it is doubtful that John would have even gotten a meeting with the governor. On the other hand, Joseph of Arimathea was an influential member of the high council, so Joseph would have both ready access to Pilate. And the prestige of his position to give weight to his request.

*It was customary for the Romans to allow relatives of executed criminals to have the body, except in cases of treason. But Pilate most certainly knew that Jesus was no traitor. Moreover, Joseph had another influential man with him to support his plea: Nicodemus who was reported to be one of the three richest men in Jerusalem." (5)

*Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus stood in the gap for the Lord's burial, and sometimes God wants us to stand in the gap.

[2] HE ALSO WANTS US TO STEP-UP AND DO WHAT WE CAN.

*This is another truth for us in vs. 38-42:

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.

*Maybe because of his leadership position, Joseph was the only one who could get access to Pilate. Joseph also may have been the only person who had a tomb nearby.

*Matthew 27:57-60 gives us this detail and says:

57. Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

58. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him.

59. And 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's tomb was near to the place where Jesus was crucified. And the tomb had to be close, because in vs. 42 it was "the Jews' Preparation Day." That high Sabbath, the first day of the Feast of Passover started that evening at 6. No work was allowed after that, and Jesus didn't die until about 3 that afternoon, so time was running out. They needed a nearby tomb, and Joseph had just what they needed.

*Joseph of Arimathea stepped up to do whatever he could do for the Lord, and Joseph wasn't alone. Nicodemus also stepped up in an amazing way. Verse 39 tells us that Nicodemus got the 100-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes needed to prepare the Lord's body.

*That much myrrh and aloe was exceedingly expensive. Just to compare: A hundred pounds of expensive perfume at the mall would cost you about $200,000! But Nicodemus was willing to step up, and in vs. 40: "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."

*Joseph and Nicodemus did whatever they could for the Lord's body. Now God wants us to do whatever we can for the Body of Christ!

*That's what the Christians in Philippi did for Paul. And that's why Paul was so thankful in Philippians 4:10. There he said, "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity."

*Then starting in Philippians 4:14, Paul said:

14. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.

15. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.

16. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.

17. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

18. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

*Never think that your giving doesn't matter. Philippians 4:15 tells us that the Philippians were the only church both able and willing to help Paul. And the time may come when you are the only person who can make a difference, just like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were here.

3. GOD WANTS US TO CARE FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST. HE ALSO WANTS US TO BE PART OF HIS PLAN.

*We can see God's plan in vs. 41-42, where again God's Word says:

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 and Nicodemus probably didn't realize it at the time, but they were fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy in the Scripture that was written 700 years before Jesus was born. It's Isaiah 53:9, where the Bible says this about the promised Messiah: "And they made His grave with the wicked but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth."

*Before we talk about Joseph and Nicodemus fulfilling this prophecy, we must notice why they made Jesus' grave with the wicked and rich at His death. It was "BECAUSE HE HAD DONE NO VIOLENCE, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT IN HIS MOUTH."

*In other words: Jesus died on the cross not because He had done anything wrong, but because He had done everything right! Jesus died because He was the perfect, spotless Lamb of God, who alone was able to die on the cross for all of our horrible sins. Thank God, Jesus was willing to die for us!

*And these two Christ followers helped to fulfill a 700-year-old prophecy from God. Joseph and Nicodemus helped to carry out God's plan for our Savior, and their story became part of God's Word.

*Now the Scripture is complete. But the story goes on! God is still working out His plan in the world today, and He wants us to be a part of the plan.

*President Ronald Reagan knew this. Here's part of the opening from President Reagan's autobiography:

"I was raised to believe that God had a plan for everyone, and that seemingly random twists of fate are all a part of His plan. My mother -- a small woman with auburn hair and a sense of optimism that ran as deep as the cosmos -- told me that everything in life happened for a purpose.

*She said all things were part of God's plan, even the most disheartening setbacks, and in the end, everything worked out for the best. If something went wrong, she said, you didn't let it get you down. You stepped away from it, stepped over it, and moved on.

*Later on, she added, something good will happen and you'll find yourself thinking: 'If I hadn't had that problem back then, then this better thing that did happen, wouldn't have happened to me.'

*After I lost the job at Montgomery Ward, I left home again in search of work. Although I didn't know it then, I was beginning a journey that would take me a long way from Dixon and fulfill all my dreams and then some.

*My mother, as usual, was right." (6)

CONCLUSION:

*Church: God's got a plan for our lives. And though there is much we don't know about it, we surely know this: God's plan includes salvation.

*That's why Joseph and Nicodemus had to bury Jesus. He had died on the cross for our sins! Thank God that 3 days later Jesus rose again from the dead! Now God will save anyone who will turn to Jesus in faith, and receive Him as the Lord and Savior of their lives.

*God's plan for our lives includes salvation, and it includes our service. God's plan includes the kind of courageous, whole-hearted service we see in the lives of Joseph and Nicodemus.

*So, God speaks to us from the Lord's burial tonight. He wants to give us the courage to be committed. He wants us to care for the Body of Christ. And He wants us to be part of His plan. Think about these things as we go back to God in prayer.

(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "You Can't Keep a God Man Down" by Michael Luke - Luke 24:1-8

(2) www.lifeway.com online Easter Sermon: "If a Man Dies, Will He Live Again?" by Robert Russell on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 1 Corinthians 15

(3) Source: Sermons.com email illustration 05232004

(4) http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/watchwomanonthewall/2012/01/inspirational-a-true-story-verified-at-snopes-com.html

(5) EXPLORING THE GOSPELS: JOHN by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "Divine Provision for the Lord's Body" - John 19:38-42 - Source: https://www.olivetree.com

(6) AN AMERICAN LIFE by Ronald Reagan - Source: SermonCentral illustration

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