Friday, April 15, 2011

Mark 15:42-47 Jesus Christ's Burial

Mark 15:42-47
42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.

Jesus having been crucified according to the Will of God in fulfillment of the Scriptures and His eternal redemption plans through them is now to be taken down from the cross out of the sight of men, blooded and broken and bearing the worst shame of all, humanities sins and punishment in His own body, so that we might all have God's salvation from sin and death when we believe. Thus it is only through Jesus Christ's death on the cross that we find our redemption and life everlasting (John 3:16); thus Jesus having born the wrath of God and suffered the reproach of sinful mankind must now be buried according to the Scriptures, so that rising again according to the Scriptures He might bring His everlasting life, by the Holy Spirit, into all who believe in Him.
Now the Preparation Day was on a Friday, the day preceding the Sabbath; Saturday, the day on which all Jewish religious festivals began (Nelson’s). And since it was the Preparation Day when Jesus died on the cross, the Jews not wanting the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that the bodies might be taken away (John 19:31-37). The point of breaking their legs was that it would speed up their death’s, if they were not already dead, for they would no longer be able to lift themselves up and thus prevent the slow suffocation death that was crucifixion. With that then Pilate dispatches some soldiers who came and broke the legs of the first of the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus. And having done so they did the same to the other one as well, however when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead they did not break His legs. Instead one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear and immediately blood and water came out. The significance being, that in doing so, they fulfilled the Scriptures which state: “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” (See John 19:36-37; quoting from Exodus 12:26; Num. 9:12 and Psalm 34:20). Now with Jesus’ side being pierced and blood and water running out. Any notions of a Christ who was simply Spirit, and not fully Man, are fully placed to rest. For the Lord Jesus Christ literally died on the cross as a Man for our sins. That reality is crucial to the gospel’s fulfillment and essential to our being saved by faith in His Person (John 3:16).

This then brings us back chronologically to verse 43 in Mark’s gospel which states that there was a man named “Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.” Vs. 43
Now it is explicitly stated of Joseph, that he was a prominent council member, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God. Luke’s gospel also tells us that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus. And that he did not consent to their decision to crucify Him (Luke 23:50-51). And so the Scripture states that Joseph taking courage went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. The very fact that Joseph did not consent to Jesus death, and was now actively seeking Jesus' body, so that he might give Jesus an honorable burial, was Joseph’s stepping out from secret discipleship to open discipleship. For ultimately having faith in Jesus means you either move from “secret discipleship” or a “private faith” to an open and unabashed discipleship, or you don’t move with God at all. Since the Lord Jesus Christ requires not only exclusive loyalty to His Person; above all other relationships and family ties (Matt. 10:34-39), but also unashamed profession of His Person and His Words (Mark 8:38). There is then no place, time, or circumstance when one is to tuck their faith In Christ away. To believe in Jesus Christ, and thus be His disciple, is to have an open life that is built upon the Lord Jesus Christ’s Person by obeying His Words. People who say they can separate their Christian beliefs from their work, school or public sector responsibilities are deceiving themselves, and sadly others as well. Since what one does, says, and endorses (or does not endorse) publicly is to be what they are and believe privately. My Christian beliefs then are not to be restricted to Sunday morning; for they are mine every morning, noon and night. Whether in Christian fellowship or not. They do not change. For they define who I am and what I believe, all the time. Therefore wherever I go, they go with me. That is the salt and light I am to bring with me into every relationship, job, career, service, or even recreational activity. Jesus Christ’s Lordship, and thus by my words and deeds the declaration of His Kingdom having come. Now John’s gospel explains why Joseph was initially a secret disciple of Jesus; for fear of the Jews (John 19:38). But with his taking courage and approaching Pilate to take the body of Jesus and honor Him by giving Him a worthy burial, Joseph ceased to be. If you’ve come to believe in Jesus have you then likewise taken courage and stepped out in faith for Him in some way? Maybe got baptized, or confessed your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord to your family or publicly in some other way? For Spiritual growth always entails our overcoming our fears (or failures) and stepping out in faith with Him (Heb. 13:13; Rev. 3:20). Now along with Joseph also came Nicodemus; the Jewish teacher of the law who first came to Jesus at night. To whom Jesus explained the way into the Kingdom of heaven; (see John 3:1-21); Nicodemus bringing with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes; about 100 pounds worth, to prepare Jesus Body for burial (John 19:39-40). Two prominent men then, who overcoming their fears, were now going to publicly identify with Jesus Christ. And in doing so they were not only risking their life's ambitions as far as the Sanhedrin counsel went; they were risking their very status within the greater Jewish society (John 12:42-43); because they like others believed, yet unlike so many other "rulers" who believed their faith moved them to openly identify with Jesus Christ the Son of Man whom that very counsel conspired to kill and the Jews ultimately crucified.

Now the Apostle John alone mentioning this fact about Nicodemus being with Joseph maybe linked to his own connection with some of Israel’s upper echelon, since it appears he was known to the high priest (John 18:15-16); and thus he would’ve known of these men as well. Returning then to Marks gospel, it states when Joseph approached Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus: “Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.” Vs. 44-47

Joseph then having received permission from Pilate to take Jesus’ body down from the cross went out and purchased some fine linen and he went to the cross to take Jesus’ body down (Mark 15:44-47). John’s gospel also relates to us that Nicodemus was with Joseph at this time and that they both took Jesus’ body down (John 19:38-40). Then they prepared it for burial and Joseph laid Jesus’ body in a tomb which Joseph owned in a garden near to where Jesus was crucified (Matt. 27:60). This tomb was newly hewed out of rock in which no one had ever laid (John 19:39-42). Marks gospel then states that it was Joseph who rolled a stone against the door of the tomb (Matt. 27:60; Mark 15:46). And then says, that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where Jesus was laid (Mark 15:47). These are the same two Mary’s who were mentioned in the previous passage of Mark we looked at (Mark 15:40). Their noting where Jesus was laid is important. Since later, when the Sabbath is past, it will be this Mary and Mary Magdalene who will come to anoint Jesus’ body on the third day. And they will be the first to realize Jesus is risen from the dead (Mark 16:1-2).

However between Jesus’ burial by Joseph, and the two Mary’s returning to find an empty tomb (Mark 16:3-8), is what took place on the day that followed the Day of Preparation. There in Matthew it states: “On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 “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.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. Matt. 27:62-66

The chief priests and Pharisees gathering to Pilate to speak with him about sealing the tomb and not Jesus' disciples just gives greater credence to Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead. Mary and Mary Magdalene being the first witnesses to the empty tomb, and Mary Magdalene being the first eye witness to Jesus Christ's resurrection (Mark 16:9). With Easter fast approaching the question is have you come to the place of faith in not only a crucified Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (by which our sins redemption is purchased through His shed blood) but of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. For it is Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead that makes everything Christian possible. For without it there would be no salvation from our sins (1 Cor. 15), or transforming Holy Spirit power at work in believers lives (Titus 3:4-7) and thus no eternal life (Rom. 10:9-10, 13). Nonetheless it is because of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead that everyone who has faith in Him having been crucified, and now risen from the dead, ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father until all His enemies are made His footstool, has everlasting hope, security and consolation. That is the Christian hope, not just a crucified Lord and Savior, by whom our person's redemption from sin and death has been purchased, but a risen One. For it is through Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead that we are given new and everlasting life (2 Cor. 5:17). For as all die in Adam's sin (the first man who sinned, and thus who brought sin and death into the human race, so all who believe In Christ are made alive, freed from sins power and delivered from death through Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20-28). And having been brought to Spirit life by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's Person crucified and raised from the dead. We find the fulfillment of His Words in our own lives: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

For it's not that our bodies will not die; it's that even though some may die (before the Lord Jesus' return); yet because of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead so shall we who die will likewise rise from the dead to new and everlasting life with spiritual bodies bearing the likeness of our Lord and Savior (1 Cor. 15:42-49). And thus no longer bearing any traces of the fallen nature (1 Cor. 15:50-54). That is the Christian message of Hope that is so desperately needing reaffirmation. Since it is there that we find the power of God and the Scriptures at work greatly within us. So we might boldly say, and dare I add, sing with everlasting joy:
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?” 1 Cor. 15:55

No fear in death, because there is no judgment (and thus no hell) for those who believe in Jesus Christ (John 5:24). No fear in life, because Jesus Christ lives within us, thus we will never be separated from the Love, Plans or Purposes of God (Rom. 8:28-39). Therefore we greatly rejoice in all things. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?” Heb. 13:5-6

Dear friend there is no greater comfort or security in life then personally knowing God and knowing His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and experiencing the Power of His resurrection in ones own life. For seeing the life of Jesus Christ manifested through ones own life, is to experience life in all of it's fullness. For the Lord Jesus Christ imparts His Life into all who repent and believe. If all you have been doing and pursuing is leaving you unfulfilled and unsatisfied then please come home to the Lord who loves you. By a simple prayer of faith you to can have the indwelling and soul satisfying Presence of God within you (John 4:14). Simply pray something like this: Dear Lord Jesus I believe Your were crucified for my sins and rose from the dead so that You could save me from the judgment to come and bring Your life (the life giving Presence of God) by the Holy Spirit into mine. And thus give me eternal life, and bring life into me in all it's fullness. Therefore I now invite You into my heart and life to be both my Lord and my Savior, in Your Precious Name Lord Jesus, amen.

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

Additional Resources
Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible dictionary, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995.

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