We have spent the last two weeks looking at the crucifixion of Christ. This morning we are going to be looking at His burial. Let me begin by asking you a question: Is the burial of Christ significant? And if it is, why? The answer is, "Yes, it is very significant!" It is significant because it is part of the Gospel:
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, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV
Typically, when we refer to the Gospel, we speak of the death and resurrection of Christ. But under inspiration, Paul includes His burial as part of the Gospel. It is obvious that with his inclusion and the details by all the Gospel writers, there is more significance to the burial of Christ than simply placing another body in the grave. Christ's burial assures us of the good news in His death.
We have been following Yeshua's life through the book of John. We have seen three and a half years of His life. We saw Him call His disciples and begin His ministry. We have seen Him confront the religious leaders of Israel, cast out demons, raise the dead, heal the sick, feed the multitudes. We have heard Him teach about eternal life and the resurrection at the end of the age. We have seen His trials before Israel's leaders and before Rome, we have seen Him whipped and crucified.
Yeshua is now dead. Think of how His disciples must have felt. Think of their despair and hopelessness. The death and burial of Christ was cause of great despair for them, but I want you to see this morning that it is cause of great joy for us who know the end of the story.
We ended last week with verse 30:
When Yeshua had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 ESV
"It is finished!"- this translates a single Greek word, tetelestai, which is actually a banking term that means "paid in full." So Christ's cry from the cross could legitimately be translated as "It is completely paid." The fact that Yeshua "paid in full" our sin debt means that we cannot add anything to what He did.
"He bowed his head and gave up his spirit"—He literally willed His own death. He left His body at exactly the time appointed by the Father. He was in sovereign control of when He died. From the time of His birth men have tried to kill Him. In Matthew, chapter 2, Herod tried to kill Him when He was a baby. When He began His ministry and went back to Nazareth and preached one sermon in His own hometown, they tried to throw Him off a cliff. In chapter 5 it says, "The Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him." In the 7th chapter, "Because the Jews were seeking to kill Him." Chapter 8, verse 37, "You seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you." In verse 40, "But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me." Verse 59, "They picked up stones to throw at Him." In chapter 10, verse 30, "The Jews again picked up stones to stone Him." In chapter 11 and verse 53, "From that day on they planned together to kill Him." They wanted Yeshua dead. But our God is sovereign and He died on the exact day that He planned, on Passover just as the Scriptures said He would. And as we'll see this morning He not only controlled His death, He even controlled what happened to His body after He died.
From Mark's Gospel we see what happened after Yeshua died:
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Mark 15:38 ESV
Matthew and Luke join Mark in mentioning the torn veil in the Temple, as does the writer of Hebrews. So much theology is bound up in the torn veil! Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that it was a great double veil, each measuring 60 feet high and 30 feet wide and as thick as a man's hand. There was an opening at one end, which allowed you to walk between the veils and come out the other end in the Holy of Holies. This was the innermost sanctum. It was the place where no Jew was permitted to go. Not even the priests were permitted to come here. Only the high priest and only once a year was entrance into this place permitted. On Yom Kippur the high priest would enter beyond the veil and offer an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the nation.
It used to be that the Ark of the Covenant sat there. But the Ark of the Covenant had disappeared about 600 years earlier when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple. Now where the Ark once stood was a barren rock covered with generations of dried blood.
The Holy of Holies signified the presence of God even though Yahweh had departed Jerusalem back in Ezekiel chapter 10. The rending of the veil symbolized that because of Yeshua's death on the cross, God would no longer dwell in a Temple made by men, but would now dwell within the hearts of those people who trusted Him as Savior. It meant that now God would usher in a New Covenant that would be the complete fulfillment of everything the Old Covenant and the Temple represented.
Mark also tells us:
And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" Mark 15:39 ESV
There was something about the way that Yeshua died that deeply affected those who stood by. A Roman soldier, who no doubt had witnessed countless deaths by crucifixion, was compelled to acknowledge that Yeshua was the Son of God:
Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent!" Luke 23:47 ESV
And not only the soldier, but a convicted criminal who, only a short time before, was ridiculing the Lord Yeshua, now penitently asks to be remembered when He comes into His Kingdom (Luke 23:42). A timid member of the Sanhedrin, who was fearful of others knowing of his faith in Christ, now has the courage to ask Pilate for the body of Yeshua (John 19:38). There was something about the way that Yeshua died that deeply affected those who stood by.
Verses 31-37 are unique to John's Gospel:
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. John 19:31 ESV
The "day of preparation" was the day before the Sabbath. "So that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath"—D.A. Carson and many others believe that Yeshua was crucified on Friday, the day before the weekly Sabbath. I believe that Yeshua was crucified on a Wednesday, and so this is not the weekly Sabbath, but the Sabbath of Unleavened bread. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a special High Sabbath, and no work is to be done. We assume they had to get Yeshua's body in the tomb before the weekly Sabbath, but it wasn't the weekly Sabbath, it was the High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. Passover occurred on the 14th on Nissan and Unleavened Bread occurs on the 15th and lasts till the 22nd.
"The Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away"—if this wasn't so sad it would be comical. By "Jews" here John means the Jewish leaders who have just killed the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God at the hands of the Romans. And while they're killing the Son of God, they're scrupulously trying to satisfy and vindicate the traditions of the Mosaic Law. The Torah said:
"And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 ESV
This refers to impalement of the body on a pole after death. According to Josephus, this law was interpreted in the first century to cover the bodies of those who had been crucified. (The Jewish War 4.5.2 [317 )
While it was not unusual for the executed to remain on the cross for a few days, the Romans would leave them on the cross even after they died and let the buzzards eat them, but in Jewish territory they would defer to unobjectionable local customs. The Jews demanded that the crucified be removed from their crosses in a timely fashion so that the Sabbath might not be defiled by the dead. So, allowing for these sensibilities, Pilate gave the order to hasten the deaths of the three.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. John 19:32 ESV
A heavy hammer was used to crush the bones of the victims' legs. This would have prevented their pushing up to relieve the inverted pressure of the diaphragm, thus exhaling the air in their lungs. The victims would then literally smother in the air they had breathed due to their inability to exhale. Archaeologists have found the remains of a victim of crucifixion with his legs smashed in Israel. Yeshua was in the middle, but they went to Him last, they knew He was no ordinary man.
But when they came to Yeshua and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. John 19:33 ESV
Yeshua suffered on the cross for 6 hours, from the third hour to the ninth hour, which would be 9AM to 3PM (Mark 15:25, 34-36). It was unusual for someone to die this soon. When the Roman soldiers came to Yeshua, they recognized that He was already dead. These men were veterans of crucifixion. They could spot death since they were trained to recognize it. The quivering of the arms and legs had stopped. The movement of the chest had ceased. The head had bowed in the relief of death.
The fact that these executioners didn't break Yeshua legs is pretty amazing since they had orders to do so. Even if they thought He was dead you would think that just to be sure they would break the legs. But they don't, because they can't. We'll see why in a minute.
But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. John 19:34 ESV
The limited evidence we have suggests that soldiers sometimes pierced other executed people to make sure they were dead. One of the soldiers must have wanted to make absolutely sure that Yeshua was dead.
What is the significance of the blood and water? Dr. William Edwards in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association wrote:
"Clearly the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to His side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between His right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured His death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge." (William D. Edwards, M.D, "On the Physical Death of Yeshua Christ," Journal of the American Medical Association, [March 21, 1986])
However the medical experts work this out, there can be little doubt that Lazarus is emphasizing Yeshua's death, His death as a man, His death beyond any shadow of doubt.
The church has found many symbolic meanings from the blood and water. It has seen baptism and the Lord's Supper. To me that is a real stretch from the text. If John does have a double meaning here I would say that the blood would point to the sacrificial death of the Passover Lamb. The purpose of mentioning the blood was expressed in:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 ESV
Later references to sacrificial procedures in the Mishnah appear to support this: m. Pesahim 5.3 and 5.5 state that the blood of the sacrificial animal should not be allowed to congeal, but should flow forth freely at the instant of death so that it could be used for sprinkling, and m. Tamid 4.2 actually specifies that the priest is to pierce the heart of the sacrificial victim and cause the blood to come forth.
It seems most probable to understand the reference to the water which flowed out of Yeshua's side as a symbolic reference to the Holy Spirit, who can now be given, because Yeshua is now glorified (cf. 7:39).
Some equate the water to the supernatural water flowing from the Rock in Numbers 20:11. Paul identified "the Rock" of Numbers 20 as Christ in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5. The "Rock" that gave physical life to the Children of Israel now gives supernatural life to the New Israel, the church of God.
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. John 19:35 ESV
Bottom line here is that this is an eyewitness medical detail showing that Yeshua was truly dead, and thereby asserting the true humanity of Yeshua the Messiah. When John wrote this Gospel, Docetism and Gnosticism may have been beginning to form. Both of these heresies denied that Yeshua was a real man. The Docetists denied that Yeshua had taken on human flesh. They taught that it only appeared that He had died. And it was this heretical group through whom Muhammad was to get his idea of the Christian faith; this is why the Koran teaches that 'they did not kill him, neither did they crucify him; it only seemed to be so' (Sura 4.157). This eyewitness testimony stresses the fact that Yeshua really did die, and that He was a genuine man.
"That you also may believe"—this is why Lazarus is writing this Gospel that it may bring men to Christ (John 20:31). And part of believing the Gospel is believing that Yeshua really died.
For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken." John 19:36 ESV
Yeshua controls His own death and what's going on after His death to fulfill prophecy. Yeshua, by giving up His life earlier than expected, was spared from having His legs broken. John sees in this a fulfillment of prophecy. Exodus 12 tells us something important about the Passover lamb of which Yeshua was a type:
It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. Exodus 12:46 ESV
John is probably combining passages from the Tanakh. Ancient Jewish teachers often linked or blended texts. Here he has in mind Exodus 12:46 & Numbers 9:12, which prohibit breaking the bones of the Passover lamb and Psalm 34:20, which refers to God protecting the righteous man from His enemies breaking His bones:
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Psalms 34:20 ESV
Yeshua, our Passover Lamb, fulfilled this as He died on the cross without His legs being broken.
As I said earlier, even when the solders saw that He was dead, it would have been normal for them to break His legs, too, so that they didn't get in trouble. But God sovereignly prevented the soldiers from obeying their orders so that Yeshua would fulfill Messianic prophecy!
And again another Scripture says, "They will look on him whom they have pierced." John 19:37 ESV
We also saw earlier in this study that Yeshua's side was pierced by a soldier, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah:
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10 ESV
John uses a single phrase from this verse, but the entire context is associated with the events surrounding the crucifixion. The "Spirit of grace and of supplication" is poured out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the first part of verse 10. A few verses later in 13:1 Yahweh says:
"On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. Zechariah 13:1 ESV
This fountain is the blood of Yeshua. Isaiah also talks about this piercing:
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 ESV
Just as the other aspects of our Lord's death were foretold, so was His burial. The whole concept of a "suffering servant" has its roots in the Law, Psalms, and Prophets. Though the Jews anticipated a political messiah, rather than a suffering servant, it was not because of a failure on the part of the Scripture writers to address the issue. John wants his readers to see that the things which took place at Calvary were the very things God had prophesied. Yahweh is sovereign over the death and burial of Christ.
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Yeshua, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Yeshua, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. John 19:38 ESV
Only in the burial story of Christ do we meet Joseph of Arimathea. He is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. Mark tells us that He was a prominent member of the Council. This means that he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. He was a member of the corrupt leadership of Israel. But Luke tells us:
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. Luke 23:50-51 ESV
Matthew fills in some more details, He did not consent to their evil plan, because he was a disciple of Yeshua:
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Yeshua. Matthew 27:57 ESV
Here is a member of the Sanhedrin, who is a disciple of Yeshua. The Sanhedrin hated Yeshua, how could Joseph be His disciple without them attacking him? John tells us:
"Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Yeshua, but a secret one for fear of the Jews"—So Joseph was a secret disciple of Yeshua. How does that fit your theology? If you hold to a Lordship Theology, this doesn't fit. Joseph wasn't the only secret disciple:
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:42-43 ESV
The rulers were believing in Yeshua, but they were doing it secretly. Joseph was one of these secret disciples. But as we saw earlier, Luke tells us that He was a righteous man. So, we have before us a respected man, who is rich, and a secret follower of Christ while at the same time a member of the ruling Council of the Jews. Though a "good and righteous man," he regularly rubbed shoulders with the enemies of Christ, listened anxiously to their plots, and watched helplessly as they consented together to put Him to death. All the while, Joseph maintained a heart for Yeshua, living as a believer in the midst of the most intolerable atmosphere of hatred for the disciples of Christ. At maybe the most difficult moment, as the religious leaders gloated over their success in having Yeshua put to death, Joseph "gathered up courage, and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Yeshua."
"Joseph of ArimatheaÉasked Pilate that he might take away the body of Yeshua"—Now, His cover was gone; he is no longer a "secret" disciple of Yeshua. Joseph of Arimathea, obscure among the numbers that followed Christ, would be forever known as the man that took care of the body of the crucified Lord of glory.
Why Joseph? It would seem obvious that either the Lord's family or the disciples that had been with Him for three years would have claimed His body. The job of burial normally belonged to family members who would bury the victim in the public grave of commoners so that their own family burial plot would not be defiled. There might not be much fanfare for a criminal, but they at least showed their sense of dignity for human life by placing the body in a grave. Such a burial would be the burial of a criminal. But the burial of Yeshua was more like that of a King! A number of scholars and expositors affirm that our Lord's burial was royal in every detail. As Leon Morris expressed it, "Jesus may have been crucified in the manner of a criminal, but he was buried in the manner of a king;…in His death, Jesus was sovereign" [Expository Reflections on the Gospel of John, 684].
The NIV cultural backgrounds study Bible states, "For a member of the elite to request the body, however, was to take a significant risk: unless acting officially at the behest of the Sanhedrin, he could be associated with Jesus' alleged treason, risking his own execution. Moreover, officials sometimes liked to pin such charges specifically on members of the elite so that they could confiscate their property. Although Pilate does not act against Joseph, Joseph could not know that in advance, and his request is courageous."
Remember back in John 18:28 how the Jewish leaders wouldn't set foot in Pilate's dwelling so as not to incur defilement for the Passover? But here Joseph walks into Pilate's presence to ask for Yeshua's body and then he and Nicodemus defile themselves by preparing that body for burial. In so doing, they lost their religion, but when you believe in Christ you don't need religion.
"Pilate granted permission"-he didn't just say, Sure take the body and do with it what you will. Mark fills us in here:
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. Mark 15:44-45 ESV
Joseph must have had some clout to go into Pilate and even ask for this. Pilate is surprised that Yeshua is already dead, but after checking with his centurion, he grants Joseph Yeshua's body. Given Pilate's reluctance to execute Yeshua, it is perfectly understandable that he would be inclined to release Yeshua's body since it was within his power to do so, according to custom.
Pilate probably "granted" his request for Yeshua's body, because he realized that Joseph wanted to give Yeshua an honorable burial, which would have humiliated the Jews further.
John tells us that Joseph wasn't alone in burying Yeshua:
Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Yeshua by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. John 19:39 ESV
Joseph of Arimathea is not alone in his efforts to give Yeshua a proper burial. He is working with Nicodemus, another very prominent member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus is never mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels, It is only from John's Gospel that we even know of Nicodemus.
The notation by John of Nicodemus "bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight," shows that the expense for Christ's burial was kingly rather than the burial of a commoner. A simple commoner might be wrapped in inexpensive cloth with a few spices and placed in a tomb. But a king was wrapped in "linen wrappings," and then large amounts of spices were used for the burial. For instance, when Herod the Great was buried, Josephus tells us that 500 servants carried spices to the burial. The amount of spices Nicodemus brought to the tomb would have required servants to join him in the process. The weight, in our measurements, amounted to seventy-five pounds of spices, which would have been cumbersome for one person to carry. So we can picture a short procession led by Nicodemus for the purpose of giving our Lord a kingly burial.
Here we have another Jewish leader, Nicodemus, who has become a disciple of Yeshua. These two men most likely began their association as colleagues on the Council of the Sanhedrin. When Nicodemus objected to the way the Council was proposing to deal with Yeshua, Joseph must have taken notice. They may have talked privately and discovered that they were of like mind regarding Yeshua. They may have attempted to support each other as they objected to the course the Sanhedrin seemed bent on taking. While Yeshua was being crucified, they seem to have mutually agreed upon a plan to obtain His body in order to give Him a proper burial.
So they took the body of Yeshua and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. John 19:40 ESV
Unknown and obscure though he may have been, Joseph became God's instrument for burying His Son as a prelude to the resurrection.
"Bound it in linen cloths with the spices"—This seems to indicate that the application of the perfumes to the body was an inclusion of them in the linen cloths which were wrapped around the body. Although the Gospels make no mention of the act of washing, "Shabbath" 23:5 notes this in connection with duties which were not overridden by the Sabbath restrictions, and, in Acts 9, we read that the body of Dorcas was washed before she was laid out in an upper room:
In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Acts 9:37 ESV
Many commentators say that the washing of the body may have been the first rite performed on the body of Yeshua once it had been taken down from the cross and prior to the anointing with spices and fragrances.
Washing the body was the common practice for a Jew who has died a natural death, but it is not the practice for a Jew who has died violently. The blood must accompany the body to the grave! In Israel today, after a terrorist attack, you may notice many people wearing orange vests collecting blood and tissue after bomb explosions. These collected body fluids and tissue are buried with the bodies of the victims. It is interesting that the blood-splattered body of the image of the crucified man on the linen shroud known as the "Shroud of Turin" had not been bathed, but had been covered with herbs, myrrh, and spices in preparation for burial.
John's interest was not in the manner of the burial, as much as the honor that Joseph and Nicodemus bestowed on Yeshua by burying Him in "linen" cloth.
The ancient Egyptians had an elaborate process of embalming a body for burial. They removed the organs and filled the body cavity with spices that would serve to embalm. Other cultures in that era cremated the bodies. But the Jewish practice was different. They used cloth to wrap the body and throughout the wrapping would spread the fragrant myrrh and powdery aloes in the grave cloths to diffuse the stink of putrefaction. The body was externally packed in these various spices, not so much to preserve them as to eliminate the odor of decaying flesh. They did this process immediately, rather than drawing it out as the Egyptians commonly did. Often they would burn spices at the grave to help cleanse the atmosphere of any stench.
According to Jewish laws, they could not now celebrate the special Sabbath of the Passover week. By handling a dead body they were now excluded from these celebrations.
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. John 19:41 ESV
Most of the modern day depictions of the tomb of Yeshua (actually the tomb of Joseph!) show the entrance way as a door frame which has been carved into the rock, this wasn't the case in the tomb discovered in Peace Forest, the entrance on the tomb side was so narrow as to force a person entering to crawl through, it being slightly wider on the outside. That Lazarus (John 20:5) had to stoop to look into the tomb implies that the entrance was not very large.
Isaiah continues in his description of the Messiah:
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 53:9 ESV
When a man was crucified, particularly for sedition, he was not accorded the normal dignity given to other citizens in burial. These criminals were carried out of the city to a common grave without any sense of honor and lumped together for burial. That is what Isaiah meant by the phrase, "And they made his grave with the wicked." Normally, since Yeshua was crucified, He would have been part of this common grave of wicked criminals. But Isaiah continues in his prophesy some 800 years before the death of Christ, "… with a rich man in His death" The exception to the normal burial of criminals took place at the request of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, as he asked Pilate for the body of Yeshua. So the request was granted, and Joseph put Yeshua into His own tomb, the tomb of a rich man—fulfilling prophecy.
Only John's Gospel notes that the tomb where Yeshua' body was placed was in a garden. The Church fathers have written of the mystical connection between the Son of God's burial in a garden after having victoriously redeemed mankind from that first sin which was committed in a garden.
Matthew, Luke, and John all observe that this was a new tomb, never used before Yeshua's burial. A new tomb fulfills the prophecy that the Suffering Servant would be rich in His death (Isa 53:9). Only wealthy people had tombs, and only the very wealthiest people had new tombs.
That this is a new tomb is important to prepare for chapter 20: if on the third day the tomb was empty, only one body had disappeared, and only one person could have been resurrected.
As we saw Matthew tells us that Joseph was rich. Not only is Joseph's wealth important for securing the body and of providing a place of entombment, but, by doing what he did, he fulfilled the Scripture which had been written about the suffering Servant hundreds of years previously.
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. Mark 15:46 ESV
Mark goes on to tell us that after placing Yeshua in the tomb, "He rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb." Archeological evidence reveals a number of graves in this region that had a track cut in the rock in front of the opening in which a large, round stone could be rolled to secure a grave. It was no small feat to move! This kept out animals and bandits that would rob even the linen wrappings covering the bodies in graves.
So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Yeshua there. John 19:42 ESV
It just so happened that Joseph owned the tomb next to the place of execution. Had it been a mile or two away, it would have been too far to carry for burial so that the Sabbath would have been violated.
There is no memorial service for our Lord. Our memorial services are gatherings in order to pay proper respects to some of our friends who have gone on to be with the Lord. And there is often a eulogy at that point in which we seek to tell what that person meant to us. There was no memorial service and no eulogy for our Lord Yeshua. They took Him down from the cross and wrapped Him in cloth and spices and put Him in a tomb. The burial of Yeshua is the completion of His humiliation.
What I'd like you to see from this text that we looked at today is that Yeshua was truly flesh and blood; and that He truly died. The burial served as a certificate of death. The burial signified a public notice that Yeshua of Nazareth was dead. For us who are the beneficiaries of His death, it is public notice that when Yeshua said, "It is finished!" that IT IS FINISHED!
I'd also like you to see that His death fulfilled many prophecies. Every detail of Biblical prophecy was fulfilled in Christ. Do you see how the truth of God's Word, written over a period of over a sixteen hundred years, maintains accuracy to the finest detail? The Bible is the Word of the Living God! You can trust it, you can count on it, you can find great comfort in it, but you have to read it!
Let me close this morning with a conversation that is said to have occurred between Joseph of Arimathea and Pontius Pilate. This is not recorded but has been passed down to us orally. Pilate shocked by Joseph's request for the body of Yeshua said, "Joseph, I don't understand. You're the richest man in the region; you have made this brand new tomb for your family; and, you're going to give it to this criminal?" To which Joseph replied, It's just for the weekend!"