The Burial of Jesus
Good morning, welcome to NHCC. Please open Bibles to Mark 15.
Read Mark 15:42-47- And when evening had come, 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 looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
Introductory work is necessary to rightly understand what is happening.
Introduced to Joseph of Arimathea- what all do we know about him?
From texts in Mark and elsewhere:
Matthew 27:57- When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.
Disciple of Jesus. Follower of Jesus.
V. 43- Respected member of the council.
Part of the Sanhedrin.
V. 43- Looking for the Kingdom of God.
Devout Pharisee, seeking the Messiah.
Luke 23:50-51- Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
Joseph had not agreed with the decision of the Sanhedrin.
John 19:38- After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was 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 away his body.
While Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, he was a secret disciple because of his fear of the Jews.
V. 43- Took courage and went to Pilate.
Joseph is making his heart known, which certainly came at a risk.
Risk from Rome
Normally bodies suffered one of two fates. Thrown in a garbage heap and set on fire, or left for scavengers.
Risk from the Jewish leaders.
What was Joseph doing?
Let’s note the timeline.
Jesus was crucified at the third hour (9:00 AM), Darkness covered the land from the 6th hour to the ninth hour (12:00-3:00 PM).
At the ninth hour (3:00 PM), Jesus cried out to God and died shortly after.
The Sabbath would begin that evening, at sunset, generally around 6:00 PM.
The day prior to the Sabbath was called the day of preparation.
Because no work could be done on the Sabbath, the Jews would prepare themselves for their day of rest. They would get everything ready in order that they didn’t have to work on the Sabbath.
Principle to be learned here. Do we prepare ourselves for a day of rest?
Joseph had only a couple of hours before sunset, so he went boldly to Pilate to request the body.
They took the body off the cross, likely would have washed the body clean of all of the blood.
Wrapped the body in a linen shroud, tucked into the folds an assortment of aromatic spices.
John’s gospel tells us that Nicodemus was helping with this process.
Finally, the body was placed into an unused tomb.
Cut into the limestone, covered with a big rock.
Tomb was not the permanent resting place. People would come back after the body decomposed, put the bones in a box, and place it outside of the tomb.
This particular tomb, according to both Matthew and John, was unused.
The rock was placed, would require many men to remove, and the women watched from a distance, as they were going to come back with more herbs and spices, following the Sabbath.
What principles can be drawn from such a narrative and applied to life?
1. Preparation precedes celebration.
1. Preparation precedes celebration.
Every temptation in this life is to move on directly to celebration.
However, we tend to find that true celebration in this life comes in the overcoming of desperation.
Subject of so many Psalms.
The psalms begin with utter dismay and depression, crying out for help. God, in His mercy, provides relief and salvation, and celebration closes the psalm.
We tend to find this to be true in all areas of life.
Before we reach the celebration, there is a time that prepares us for it.
Having children at different ages. Aletheia going to Little Galilee. Azariah has to wait, no matter how badly he wants to go now. This is his time of preparation.
J.H. Burn- “Nothing great or good seems to go straight to its throne, but always through a grave. Good causes seem always lost before they are won, the dark hour of weakness being used of God to draw forth the allegiance that gives them victory. Religion, truth, and goodness go not through the world in bright apparel, but persecuted, dying, and finding graves. Judge not success by seeming, power by popularity. The great Christ found a grave.”
This day of burial just happened to fall on the aptly named “Day of Preparation”
Our application here is twofold.
In the midst of preparation, we can be encouraged by knowing that celebration is coming, in this life or the next.
Heaven is a reward for those who have persevered.
Hebrews 10:35-36- Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18- So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Romans 8:18- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Secondly, when we persevere, we know that we can look back in thankfulness.
We recognize that time of difficulty is not wasted, but instead is a time of preparation.
Do we recognize our trials this way?
James 1 reminds us to count it joy when we face trials? Why? Because God is shaping us in those trials.
The trials of life are not wasted moments, but times of preparing us into what we are to become.
Lego set being constructed.
The death of Jesus is the time of preparation leading up to the celebration of His resurrection.
2. Jesus transforms the grave.
2. Jesus transforms the grave.
To begin, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-4- Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...
In this text, Paul is laying out the foundational gospel message that he had preached to those Christians in Corinth.
We talked about the importance of the death of Christ last week. It is at the heart of ministry, of preaching, of evangelism.
But what else does Paul say. When he covers the basic necessities of the gospel, what does he cover?
Jesus died, Jesus was buried, and Jesus was raised.
1 and 3 make sense. Death of Jesus shows the love of Christ, resurrection shows His power.
Why is burial essential to the gospel?
It is because Jesus transforms the grave.
Jesus enters the grave and for the last time, the grave is meant to be feared.
J.H, Burn- “The Savior hallows the grave by occupying it. He removes its reproach, dispels its terrors. Since that new tomb was occupied, all graves have become new, and thoughts of rest, sleep, refreshment, waking, are now associated with them. When death fixed its sting on Christ, it lost it for all who follow Christ.”
Was just at the funeral of Rachel Rees, and it’s so interesting how we speak of death now.
There is no finality. In fact, the main ideas of which we speak together are on the brevity of the time remaining until we are there with Rachel.
Jesus, in His death and burial, has transformed the grave by removing the threat of the grave.
Truly, death, where is your sting? The venom has been removed.
3. Saturday’s Children
3. Saturday’s Children
Sometimes we live as though Sunday has never occurred.
Put yourself in the shoes of those who had witnessed the death of Jesus.
The promises of God had been made clear, but how would the find their fulfilment? The disciples were scattered. The beaten and killed body of the Savior was in its grave. Hope was nearly gone.
This was Saturday’s reality for many of the followers of Jesus.
We know the rest of the account including the resurrection, but they, on Saturday did not.
Ray Stedman- “Someone has called our present generation “Saturday’s Children,” and it is an apt term. Our great American cities are, for the most part, teeming with pools of human misery where people live out their days in a kind of ritual dance toward death with hope or illusion. In the midst of an increasingly godless world, despair grips people’s hearts everywhere. Hopelessness and meaninglessness come crushing in on us from every side.”
It is important to see that everyone, apart from Christ, lives such an existence.
Our evangelism is not only fueled by the power of the gospel, and by the command of Jesus, but substantially by the desperate need of those who are lacking the gospel. They are Saturday’s children, not yet knowing the truth and power of the resurrection.
But may we end our time together with an introspective look.
Do we live as though Christ is still buried?
1 Corinthians 15:17-19- And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Is it possible that many of us live through these periods of life in the way that Paul describes here?
Unsure of the forgiveness of our sins. Unsure of whether we can have hope of anything beyond the grave? Placing all of our hope in the pleasures, comforts and securities of this.
This is oftentimes our reality.
So what is to be done?
We must return constantly to the empty tomb. In the same way that Christ transformed the grave by His presence in the tomb, we must always be transformed by Christ’s presence in us.
He is not dead, and instead He gives life.
Christ in us causes us to live with courage. We strive to know Him through our holy habits of Scripture, prayer and gathering. We share Christ boldly. We sacrifice our own lives for His purposes willingly. We love others unconditionally.
What difference has the tomb made in your own life?