JESUS IS PLACED IN THE TOMB
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 15, as we conclude this chapter this evening. Now last week we saw Jesus crying from the cross of Calvary "TETELESTAI!" or "It is finished!" as He gave up His spirit and died on the cross of Calvary. But before we get to Mark chapter 15, turn to John chapter 19, for I want you to see how things conclude for Jesus and the two thieves who were on crosses opposite Jesus.
In John chapter 19, beginning in verse 31 we read "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should 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. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, Not one of His bones shall be broken. And again another Scripture says, They shall look on Him whom they pierced." John 19:31-37.
Now the reason they broke their legs was to quicken their death. You see, you could no longer push up so you could exhale and you would suffocate! But when they came to Jesus He was already dead, and thus, no need to break His legs, and in that we see the fulfillment of another prophecy, that none of His bones shall be broken, what Psalm 34:20 tells us.
In seeing this, one of the soldiers took a spear and thrust it into His side causing water and blood to flow. This could indicate that Jesus died of a ruptured heart or a broken heart! You see, a watery fluid can build up in the sack around the heart, and also, if the heart itself ruptured this pericardial sac would fill with blood, and as the soldier thrust the sword into His side, it pierced this sac, and water and blood flowed from Him. And again, this spear thrust into His side is a fulfillment of what the prophet Zechariah said in Zechariah 12:10, 13:6.
Now we can move into our study this evening in Mark chapter 15, beginning in verse 42, moving from the death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary to His burial in the tomb.
1. Joseph is an interesting man to say the least. Just some background information on this man, he was from Arimathea, which was a city located about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem and this was the place where the prophet Samuel lived, and was called Ramah (I Samuel 7:17).
He was a wealthy man, a highly respected man and a member of the Sanhedrin. In Matthew 27:57 we read "Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus." In Luke 23:50 we are told of Joseph, "Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man." Also, in John 19:38 we read "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."
So not only was he a wealthy man, not only was he a member of the Sanhedrin or the supreme court of the Jewish faith you might say, Joseph was a Pharisee, and he was a disciple of Jesus! He knew what the Old Testament said of the Messiah and he took those passages and saw them manifested in Jesus and believed by faith He was the Messiah.
2. Now how could he be a believer and be involved in putting Jesus to death? He wasnt involved in it! You see, Luke 23:51 tells us "He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God." Joseph was waiting in anticipation for the kingdom of God and he saw Jesus as the person to bring that about, according to the Scriptures. So he did not consent to the death of Jesus and very possibly he was not there when they convicted Jesus of Blasphemy and brought Him to Pilate.
3. Why didnt Joseph speak up and stand up for Jesus? Listen carefully to what John tells us, because Joseph was not alone in the way he felt about Jesus. In John 12:42-43 we are told,
"Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
4. Here is the dilemma for these men, "The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe." Proverbs 29:25. You see, they did not want to lose their positions. Jesus spoke harshly against the religious leaders and for the most part, they hated Him. Now for someone to side with Jesus would mean they would lose all they had, their jobs and maybe even their families! They were caught in their own trap instead of trusting in the Lord. And understand this, the fear of man will cause you to do things that are not right and it will always keep you from serving the Lord openly. Look at Joseph, now he is caring for the body of Jesus instead of being fruitful for Jesus when He was alive. What has fear caused you to do or not to do in your relationship with the Lord?
Think of it this way as you are going through life. Any dead fish can float down stream, but we, as Christians are to be going upstream even if it costs us something for the Gospels sake. You may lose friends, you may lose worldly things, but so what! You dont want to go before the Lord with the blood of your friends on your hands because you hid your faith, you were afraid to speak because you feared what they may say or do. It is as the saying goes, "I love Jesus, yes I do! I love Jesus, how about you?" Can you shout that out?
5. Josephs actions here are very bold. When a person was crucified for a capitol crime they would leave the bodies on the crosses so the vultures, the birds, the dogs could feed upon them and then what was left was thrown into a common grave. And Pilate, already upset with the Jews, could have turned against Joseph for his request. It took the death of Jesus, the death of His Savior for Joseph to risk it all and take those steps of faith. What will it take in your life to get you serious about your relationship with Jesus?
1. The reason Pilate was so surprised that Jesus was already dead was crucifixion was a long, slow process. Many times it would last 2 or 3 days before the victim suffocated and died! So to be sure, Pilate questions the centurion who substantiated what Joseph said, and Pilate then released the body of Jesus to Joseph.
1. Listen to what John says regarding this, for we are told of another secret disciple of Jesus. In John 19:38-42 we are told, "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. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 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. 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. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby."
2. Nicodemus was also a follower of Jesus, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a Pharisee like Joseph. And Nicodemus first encountered Jesus at night, so no one would see him. And in John chapter 3 Jesus tells him that to enter into the kingdom of God you must be born again or have that spiritual rebirth that can only take place in Jesus.
3. Then in John chapter 7 the religious leaders are trying to figure out this Jesus guy, who He is. They are confused by Him. And they want Him taken into custody. So in John chapter 7, beginning in verse 43 we read "So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, Why have you not brought Him? The officers answered, No man ever spoke like this Man! Then the Pharisees answered them, Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed. Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing? They answered and said to him, Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee. And everyone went to his own house." John 7:43-53.
Nicodemus takes a stance here, and he sticks up for Jesus and then was shot down by these religious leaders. And he left it at that, he did not want to get in trouble, he didnt want them to know he was a follower of Jesus. It was secret agent Nicodemus with his partner Joseph! And understand these religious leaders didnt want the truth, they rejected the truth, and because of that everyone went back to their homes, still lost!
4. But now both Joseph and Nicodemus come out of hiding to bury Jesus. Joseph brings the fine linen to wrap Jesus in and Nicodemus brought the fine spices, about 100 pounds to place with the body of Jesus. And what they would do is wrap the body with these linen stripes tightly and in between they would place aromatic spices, to help the body smell nice as it was rotting away!
5. Now this garden tomb was next to the sight of the crucifixion, and you can go to Israel today and see this tomb, which is right next to Golgotha or Calvary! And this is a new tomb, never been used before, and Jesus was only going to use it for a few days! And as they placed the body of Jesus in this tomb, they sealed the opening with a huge stone that would roll upon a track. It is as the prophet Isaiah said, "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." He died opposite two murderers, thieves, and yet in His burial He was placed in the tomb of a rich man!
1. Where are the men? I find that interesting. We only see the women by the tomb, besides Joseph and Nicodemus, all the rest of the disciples of Jesus are long gone, hiding out, fearful of what might happen to them. It would seem that the women had a much deeper devotion to Christ, and they were broken over what they saw. The men let fear drive them away, keep them from the cross, like happens so often today.
2. One more thing before we conclude this evening. Turn to Matthew chapter 27, and lets begin reading in verse 62, "On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, "After three days I will rise." Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, "He has risen from the dead." So the last deception will be worse than the first. Pilate said to them, You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how. So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard." Matthew 27:62-66.
Now the disciples of Jesus didnt hear what Jesus was saying in regards to His bodily resurrection in 3 days, but the religious leaders did. And their concern was that someone might steal the body of Jesus and then claim that He rose from the dead, causing His following to grow even after He is dead. It will even be worse. So these religious leaders come to Pilate asking for a guard of Roman soldiers to make sure this didnt take place. And Pilate obliges to their request, maybe just to get them out of his hair!
3. Why is that important to us? Because that was another proof that when the tomb was empty, the body of Jesus could not have been stolen! If these guards failed in their duty, if they fell asleep on the job, they could be put to death! A good incentive program. And keep this in mind as we begin looking at the resurrection of Jesus next week!