We are examining these three vital elements of the Gospel. This evening we complete our look at Christ’s Death. We have seen in the past weeks that there were many amazing, miraculous and profound details that God’s Word records. We can say that Christ DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures.
- HE DIED on The Exact Place – On Golgotha in Moriah
- HE DIED in The Exact Event – A Prophesied Crucifixion
- HE DIED at The Exact Moment – As the Passover Lamb
- HE DIED with The Exact Confirmation – With Five Mighty Miracles
Picture Arab Bus Station Today
That took us to Matthew 27.45-54 is where we see Christ died
Picture Golgotha early June 2004
We discovered that there were Five Supernatural Signs that accompanied Christ’s Death. Do you remember them?
FIRST, The Day Darkened. Matthew 27:45 now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. (KJV)
- Since Jesus was the Light of the World – God the Father stopped the light of the Sun.
In Genesis the First thing Jesus did at Creation was to “Let there be Light” – The Work of Creation was done in the LIGHT. But from the Cross He reached up and snuffed out the Light, because the work of Redemption was so horribly costly it had to be done in the Dark. God let no one see the turning of His back upon the Son!
At His birth He put a new star in the sky; at His death He snuffed out of the sky our brightest star. What a mighty miracle, what a sign to mankind that they were murdering their Maker. So He reached up and touched the Sun. . .
Second, The Curtain Torn Matthew 27:51a And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom (KJV)
- Because Jesus was the New and Living Way to God – God the Father tore the Temple Curtain open.
Verse in Garden today
With an unearthly sound that massive curtain was violently torn from top to bottom. Aghast, as for the first time in nearly 1,500 years common people looked upon the ark and the mercy seat and God’s throne of grace and mercy. As God said ANYONE WHO WISHES MAY COME NOW. YOU ARE WELCOME ANYTIME.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (KJV)
Aren’t you glad we live on this side of Calvary? He reached up and touched the Sun; He reached over and touched the Temple . . .
Thirdly, The Earth Quaked. Matthew 27:51b and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (KJV)
- Because Jesus was the Creator of the Universe – God the Father had the Rocks cry out declaring His Praises.
At the Palm Sunday Triumphal entry Jesus said to those criticizing the shouts of Hosanna:
Luke 19:40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. (KJV)
Here at Calvary, the greatest moment in History and now no one would cry out His glory. Only days before thousands and tens of thousands thronged Him crying HOSANNA, and treated Him as a King. But now no one raised a voice in protest of this crime, so since no one else will speak up God picked –
- A dying thief to seek Him as Jesus the Savior, and cry out REMEMBER ME.
- A pagan Roman Governor to place over His head the declaration He was the Messiah, Christ.
- A calloused soldier at the foot of the Cross to confess Him as Lord, the very Son of God.
- And He reached down and touched the rocks, and they convulsed – CRYING OUT THEIR WORSHIP OF THEIR MAKER.
Fourthly, The Graves Opened. Matthew 27:52-53 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. (KJV)
- Because Jesus was the Resurrection and the Life – God the Father touched the Graves and brought forth from the dead saints who had died in faith.
Jesus had said some pretty big statements in His ministry. He had made some absolute promises that needed confirmation. The biggest were about life and death and the power of the Grave. So how would the Lord assure the many who believed on Jesus? They were about the plunge into one of the most intense times of persecution of all times until the end of days. Look back again at v. 52-53. Note in your Bibles the word MANY. Many saints’ dead only hours or buried centuries ago, in graves around Israel were touched from the Cross by Jesus.
After that great earthquake as people began to go out to survey the damage they noticed something strange. All over Israel from Dan to Beersheba, north to south, top to bottom – graves were popped open. Perhaps they could see bodies or just bones turning to dust. But Jesus had touched the graves.
So MANY were raised and many came to be witnesses of the miracle of Calvary.
So He reached up and touched the Sun, He reached over and touched the Temple, He reached down and touched the Rocks, He reached under and touched the Graves and . . .
Golgotha modern graves.
FINALLY, The Centurion Saved. Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. (KJV
- Because Jesus was the Lamb of God dying for the sin of the World – God reached down and touched the heart of the Centurion at the foot of the Cross.
A centurion was trained never to fear. As the most trusted of the soldiers of Caesar’s Legions, these were the men who looked death in the face unflinchingly. They would lock their mighty shields in battle and March against countless foes and never fear. Have you ever paused to think about this scene? What amazing events these must have been to make a tough, calloused and hardened centurion to FEAR GREATLY.
This soldier had been born somewhere in the Empire. Perhaps his father was a legionnaire. He listened to the stories as he grew up about the wonders of Ancient Rome. It nobles, temples, virtues and fearless legionnaires. As he grew perhaps his father took him to the Holidays and at an arena he saw gladiators fighting to the death and mighty horse and chariot races.
Then he chose to become one of Caesar’s finest and the barracks became his home. He was taught to discipline his body, to obey orders and to fight without fear. He learned to kill, to drink and to curse by the gods. He was calloused and hard. A SOLDIER OF ROME. As he distinguished himself in his duties he rose to become a leader of a hundred, a Centurion.
One day on the bulletin board of his barracks and notice was posted dispatching him to the most despised corner of the Empire – Palestine. But not the lovely coastal port of Roman Caesarea, no of all places on earth he was being sent to Jerusalem. A city seething with religious fanaticism and zealots and ready to explode at any moment. A place where Rome was not respected nor obeyed. He served Caesar in Jerusalem.
One morning the Roman Governor Pilate summoned him to his palace. “Take these three and crucify them and report back when they are dead.” Who were they? It didn’t matter. 30,000 had already been crucified. It was just a job. One of them thought he was some kind of a King. Well we will show Him what Rome thinks of rival kings.
But now its 3 PM, and listen to the record God gave us of what happened:
Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
- So God the Father Confirmed who Christ really was hanging upon that Cross as He reached up and touched the Sun,
- And God the Father Confirmed who Christ really was hanging upon that Cross as He reached over and touched the Temple,
- And God the Father Confirmed who Christ really was hanging upon that Cross as He reached down and touched the Rocks,
- And God the Father Confirmed who Christ really was hanging upon that Cross as He reached under and touched the Graves
- And finally — And God the Father Confirmed who Christ really was hanging upon that Cross as He reached in and touched the Centurions heart!
THAT IS THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONE HE IS STILL DOING!
I have often wondered what it was like when he went home after this tour of duty. People came up to him and said you are different. What happened? I can hear him say:
I met a man at a place called Calvary.
He was dying on a cross of wood.
That man was GOD.
And that God changed my life!
Hallelujah what a Savior!
#175 Man of Sorrows
Have you met Jesus? Has He changed your life?
Now we need to examine the Surprising Circumstances of Christ’s Burial
The great defining passage on the Gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
Here, the Gospel is defined as the good news that
- “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
- And that He was buried,
- and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
CHRIST’S BURIAL IS the 2nd PART OF THE GOSPEL
Thus the Gospel involves three main parts the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and further emphasizes his post-resurrection physical appearances in confirmation thereof.
It is obvious that the death and resurrection are basic to Christianity, but why should there be equal emphasis on the burial of Christ? Undoubtedly, the reason is that it is of vital importance for men to realize that Jesus Christ “is come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2).
CHRIST’S BURIAL WAS PHYSICAL:
- Christ’s burial was a real physical burial. The Body of Jesus was placed in a physical tomb. Thus His resurrection had to be a physical resurrection with His physical body coming out of the tomb. “The deadly heresy of the gnostics, as of numerous other ancient and modern philosophies, was that the man Jesus and the great “Christ-spirit” were somehow united only in a very superficial way, so that when Jesus died the Christ returned to the Father. Thus, Christ did not really die only Jesus died. Further, Jesus did not really rise only Christ arose!
- Neither demons nor unbelieving men have been willing to acknowledge that “Jesus is the Christ,” that “Jesus is the Son of God,” and that “Jesus the Christ is come in the flesh” (1 John 5:1; 5:5; 4:3). The Son of God is also Son of Man, with both the divine power and the human nature enabling Him both to represent man and to set man free from the evil one”.
CHRIST’S BURIAL WAS STRATEGIC:
- God wanted all men to know beyond any doubt that it was the human Jesus who rose from the grave. God needed Christ’s body to be properly buried after His death. His burial had to be witnessed by both disciples and enemies. Then, on that historic dawning as Jesus rose from the dead, His emptied tomb would stand forever as the infallible witness to His bodily resurrection.
- Think of how vital Christ’s Body was — God couldn’t allow such a crucial element in His plan as the burial of Christ’s body to be in the hands of the Roman soldiers. They might further defile His body and then toss it down in the garbage dump, with the bodies of other executed criminals. Most likely the Jewish authorities would probably have done even worse. Neither of those authorities would allow Christ’s body to fall into the care of His disciples; they feared that they would seek to hide it, claiming He had been resurrected (Matthew 27:62-66).
CHRIST’S BURIAL WAS VERIFIABLE:
- “The solution was for God to have the body buried by one or more of the authorities themselves who were also disciples. For this purpose, God chose two of the members of the governing Jewish body, the Sanhedrin, Joseph and Nicodemus. Thus, they would have access to the necessary information about the time and circumstances of His death, they would also have access to the Roman governor in order to make the required arrangements to acquire the body before the soldiers could dispose of it, and they would have enough wealth of their own to be able to make the needed preparations for a suitable resting-place for the body until it could be raised from the dead”.
CHRIST’S BURIAL WAS ANTICIPATED:
- Of course, they would have to be prepared ahead of time for this ministry. God therefore somehow touched the heart of Nicodemus, as he listened to John the Baptist, then later to Jesus, and as He saw the miracles which Jesus did. Eventually, he made his way into the presence of Jesus one night, where the Lord spoke to him of the necessity of being born again, even though he was already the greatest “teacher in Israel” (John 3:7, 10).
- The Scriptures do not tell us the outcome of that interview, except that sometime later Nicodemus defended Jesus on one occasion before the Sanhedrin (John 7:50-51). Similarly, we read that Joseph did not concur in the decision of the Sanhedrin to condemn Jesus (Luke 23:50-51).
- Somehow these two men had become friends and had resolved to make preparations for Jesus burial. It seems likely that they may have had other interviews with Jesus, though the Scriptures are silent on this, and perhaps learned from His own lips about His approaching crucifixion. He had, indeed, told Nicodemus that He must be “lifted up,” as Moses had “lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” in order that men might have everlasting life. It hardly seems likely that Nicodemus, Israel’s great teacher, would not try to learn much more about these things, and where better than from Jesus Himself? If nothing else, however, he would surely have gone back to an intensive study of the Messianic Scriptures to learn all he could about the prophesied sacrificial death of the coming Messiah. These earnest studies most likely would have been shared with his friend Joseph.
CHRIST’S BURIAL WAS COSTLY:
- Joseph gave his treasures to Jesus Some such background as this is necessary to understand the otherwise inexplicable prescience of Joseph.
- Why, for example, should he, a rich man of Arimathea, buy a burial ground in Jerusalem instead of his own home town?
- And, especially, why should he purchase it in such a place as this adjacent to the hill of Golgotha, where day after day there would come the cries of dying criminals and the wails of mourning families?
- Furthermore, it was a brand new tomb, not one in which others of the family had been buried (John 19:41), one that Joseph himself had hewn out in the rock (Matthew 27:60), perhaps not wishing others even to know about its preparation. And as Jewish laws went, no one in Joseph’s family could ever be buried in that tomb because Christ was not in their family. So Joseph gave up that tomb and garden permanently to the Lord.
- He stayed in touch with the events. Strange also was the fact that Joseph knew exactly when Jesus died, and was immediately able to rush to Pilate with the request for His body, before others even realized He was dead (Mark 15:43-44).
- He prepared the necessary materials. Even stranger was the fact that immediately thereafter came Nicodemus carrying one hundred Roman pounds (a Roman pound was equivalent to twelve ounces) of ointment for the burial (one does not carry even one hundred Roman pounds very far!).
- He publicly followed Jesus. Then, while the women watched from a distance, no doubt in amazement, these two respected members of the Sanhedrin gently lowered the body from the cross, wound it in the linen clothes, applied the spices and ointments, laid the body in the tomb, and then departed.
- He paid a high price for his actions. Never, so far as the Biblical record goes, were they ever heard from again, but there can be no doubt that this one act cost them their positions and probably their possessions, and possibly even their lives.
- Joseph gave his time to Jesus.
- Joseph learned about God’s plan. Probably in their studies together during the many months following Nicodemus first meeting with Jesus, the two friends spent much time in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. There especially was the sacrificial and saving work of the Messiah foretold, and this had been the great theme of Jesus words to Nicodemus (John 3:14-21).
- Joseph allowed God to use him to fulfill Scriptures. And in the heart of that great passage is the statement: “And He made His grave with the wicked (thus near the execution and burial grounds of the condemned criminals), but (a better translation in this context than “and”) with the rich man (therefore, a rich man must somehow provide a grave for Him even in these unlikely circumstances) in His death” (Isaiah 53:9).
- Joseph gave his treasures to Jesus. Joseph somehow decided himself to assume this prophetic obligation. He proceeded to purchase the land, cut out the tomb, plant a garden, purchase the required materials for the burial and hide them there, and then wait there with Nicodemus until they could perform that service for the Lord for which they had been born.