Sermon: Jesus, Dead and Buried (Luke 23:50-56)

Jesus, Dead and Buried

Luke 23:50-56

Introduction

As move now to Jesus’ burial it is very important that we do not underestimate this event.  It’s not by mistake that all four Gospels contain the fact that Jesus was dead and buried.

Notice with me the extent to which Luke Goes and in such detail to assure his readers that Jesus is truly and completely dead.

Luke 23:50-56 (ESV)
50 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,
51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.
54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.
55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid.
56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
John 19:31-37 (ESV) 

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.
32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him.
33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.
36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”
37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

Many often miss the importance of Jesus’ burial.  The burial of Jesus is part of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;

I have heard liberal unbelievers try to say things like; Jesus was unconscious or had a heat stroke and then once He was placed in the cool tomb was revived.

If you’re going to deny the resurrection, come up with something better than that.

All the apostles thought it necessary to report the fact that Jesus was dead and He was buried.  He burial is proof that He was actually dead.

Remember, according to our times schedule it is still Wednesday 14th of Nisan.  Jesus died on the cross around 3:00pm in the afternoon.  Now the race is on.  Joseph of Arimathea and the others must move quickly if they are going to care for Jesus’ body.  They have less than three hours before the High Day Sabbath begins.  The High Day or the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was considered a special Sabbath.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread started 6:00pm Wednesday night.  Joseph rushes to Pilate and secures permission once the soldier’s verify Jesus is dead by piercing His side.  They hurry to take Jesus’ body down and quickly do some initial preparations with the body, wrapping it in linen and placing it in the tomb of Joseph.

Primary Claim

Jesus, really and truly died on the cross and after He died, He was buried.

1. A Secret Disciple No Longer

50 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,
51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Luke tells us a few things about Joseph…

-He was a member of the council.  Joseph was an acting member of the high counsel in Jerusalem.  He was part of the Sanhedrin.  These were the ruling counsel of the land.

-He was a good and righteous man.  Joseph was, as we’ll see in a minute, a believer.  He was a secret follower of Christ.  He had not been swayed or manipulated by the politics or by the corrupt leaders.

Luke is employing words so we make connections

-He had not consented to their plans to murder Jesus.  Joseph had probably not been invited to their secret meetings and mock trials.  In order for them to have unanimity, he was probably not invited.

-He was looking for the Kingdom of God.  Joseph had heard the teachings of Jesus and believed.  His heart was fixed on God through Christ and was awaiting the consummation of the Kingdom.

-He was now bold.  As part of the counsel, he could have approached Pilate and asked for the body.

I am always amazed at the sovereignty of God.  This member of the Sanhedrin, who had access to Pilate, was saved.

However, up until now no one knew he was a follower.  To be a follower meant he would give up his prominent role as a member of the counsel.  He would loose his prestigious position.  He would not be look upon with reverence and awe.  He would not be able to get a job or support his family any longer.  It was God’s time and His secret follower would now come out of the shadows and affirm his love for Christ.

What sort of follower are you?  Are you one who comes to worship on Sunday mornings and can act the part and speak the lingo when you are around other Christians?  Are you the type of follower who has justified in your mind why it’s best if you don’t let anyone know you’re a believer at work or at school?  Are you hiding in the shadows as far as your faith is concerned?  What would it take to bring you out of hiding and into the light?

Joseph was now ready to be numbered with the followers of Christ, he was a secret disciple no longer.

2.  Jesus’ Body was Buried

53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

The Gospel writers go to great lengths to shows us that Jesus was truly dead.  Pilate carefully confirms his death, the soldiers responsible for His execution confirm it, those who wrap the body in linen confirm it, the women who come back the next day and anoint the body with spices confirm it and His death is confirmed by the fact that He was buried.  Jesus was dead.

The soldiers who were sent to break the legs of the others to speed up their deaths got to Jesus and saw that He was already dead.  They did not break His legs but to confirm His death, pierced His side.

John 19:34 

34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
In medical terms, this was an effusion of blood into the pericardium,[1] a sure sign of death.

His body was buried because He was truly dead…

Mark 15:45 (ESV)
45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon had this to say in a funeral address concerning the importance of Jesus’ death, if Jesus did not die, he has made no atonement for sin.  If he died not, then he rose not; and if he rose not, then your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins—Spurgeon

Jesus’ death, then is a vital part of the Gospel story.  If Jesus did not die as the payment for sin then our sins are not paid for and we will have to suffer the wrath of God for them. ..but Jesus did die.
He was also buried.  This is further proof of His death.  Most often, when someone died of crucifixion their bodies were not taken down from the cross and they were not buried.  They were left to hang on the cross so the birds and all other scavengers could dispose of the bodies.
Jesus is different.  His body is not only buried but buried in a rich man’s tomb.  This is to further fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy…
Isaiah 53:9 (ESV)
9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isaiah tells us in general terms of the rich man, namely Joseph of Arimethea and the freshly hewn tomb cut out from the rocks and never used before.

There is a theological term known as the humiliation of Christ.  Embodied in this term is  all Jesus did for us.

Our Lord’s humiliation ended at His burial.

Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

3. The Sabbath Countdown

54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.
55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid.
56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

It was still Wednesday probably late afternoon.  Remember Jesus died about 3:00pm.  Also remember that according to John’s account this Sabbath that is mentioned is not the weekly Sabbath, which begins Friday at 6:00pm but the yearly High Day Sabbath that begins Wednesday at 6:00pm, First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

According to the Bible then, Once Jesus was laid in the tomb and a very hasty preliminary embalming was done the women left and the tomb was sealed Wednesday night—Thursday night…One Day
Thursday night—Friday night…Two Days
Friday night—Saturday night…Three Days

Sometime between Saturday night and early Sunday morning Jesus rose from the dead.  This is the only way Scripture is fulfilled.  The traditional view does not work out.
Matthew 12:38-40 (ESV)
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

4.  Another Secret Disciple Emerges
John 19:38-42 (ESV)
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.
39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.
40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
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 because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Have you ever known the right thing to do and failed to do it?  Have you ever not done what you knew God wanted you to do and your conscience completely and utterly tortured you until you just had to do it?
I wonder if Joseph and Nicodemas felt the weight of being a secret disciple until there came a time when they couldn’t stand it any longer and had to come out from behind the shadows?
We know from John 3 Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus under the cover of darkness.  We also know from the text we just read that Joseph was a secret disciple because he was afraid.  Now, it seems, they have everything to loose and nothing to gain.  Perhaps God had worked His wondrous grace into their hearts and it was time no matter what happened to them to come out into the light and reveal their commitment to Jesus Christ.  No longer were they ashamed to be numbered among the followers.

Are you hiding your faith?  Are you a secret follower?  Praise God that these two men were drawn out of hiding and became faithful followers.  If you’re hiding, what are you afraid of?  If you’re a secret disciple, why not step up and become the type of follower Jesus truly desires?

I pray that if there are times when you are silent when you know you should speak, you would learn a very valuable lesson from these two very successful Jewish leaders, that we must all stand for Christ.
I am no longer a secret follower…I am no longer ashamed…I am no longer afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Phillip Graham Rykin Commentary on Luke page 621

[2] eastons-bible-dictionary/h/humiliation-of-christ/#

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