Summary: The death of Jesus was more than bringing salvation to a lost world; it involved an international situation which only God was able to solve.
A ROYAL FUNERAL
I. THE REALITY: *
II. THE RICH: **
III. THE REPOSE: ***
The death of our Lord is now a fact of history. He has finished all of His suffering, His humiliation, and His rejection. When He sighed, “It is finished” He not only meant that His life on this earth was over, but all that He endured for us was now complete. Death instantly followed and swallowed up the life of the spotless Son of God. Just as Jonah was to be buried three days in the belly of the whale, so must our Lord now be buried three days in the belly of the earth. Just as Jonah’s perishing brought a calmness to the trouble waters, so with the Master’s demise would bring calmness to the almighty wrath of a just God’s anger over sin. As soon as Jonah’s body fell beneath the water the ships could sail on a smooth sea, so was the time when our Lord’s spirit descended beneath the earth and the ships of life could now sail on smooth waters to heaven’s port.
Death had finally been allowed to invade the body of our Lord. He who raised the dead, cured the blinded eyes, unstopped the deaf ears, cleansed the lepers, cast out demons now allowed death to posses His perfect body. He did not die because Satan killed Him, He died because He gave up His spirit to His heavenly Father. Yet in His death, there were issues which had to be resolved for the glorifying of the Father. This then leads me to the main points of the sermon. He did die and He did have a Royal Funeral.
I see three things associated with His death. The first one had to do with THE REALITY of His dying. The second point I note concerns THE RICH and what they did in giving the Master His Royal Funeral. Then, finally I note THE REPOSE of the Lord and what it means for us today.
* THE REALITY: The Reality of the death of Christ is attested by the Scriptures in a direct way when it says that “He was buried.” People do not bury a live person-only those who are dead. John gives the proof of the death of the Master in a direct and yet in a causal manner by THE REALITY of attesting to His death. This is crucial for those who believe in Christ. Without His death there would be no resurrection. Without His resurrection there would be no pardon for our sins. The simple fact that Jesus did die was a non-controversial fact to the writer of our text and to the Early Church. Only the skeptics and scoffers have tried to cast doubts and dispersion on the fact of His death and dying.
The reality of the death of Jesus was a given fact by the Romans who did the dastardly deed. These heartless soldiers might have been callused in many ways but they were sensitive to the scruples of the local Jewish population which demanded that these three men on these three crosses were to be dead and out of sight before the sun went down.
Normally, the Romans had no compunction about letting their miscreants hang on crosses for days, if that was what it took, for them to die. But not in Israel and they were out to placate the Jews by hurrying death along to the three helpless victims on the crosses that day long ago. Besides, if these Romans could hasten the death of these men in accordance with the wishes of the Jews, that would give them some extra time off and they could begin their night of revelry early, if they wanted to so do. To hasten the death of the victims was a cruel torture in itself.
The Romans, ever the inventers of afflicting pain, had devised a device which could break the legs of a man on the cross instantly with excruciating pain. The only solace was that the victim did not suffer more than a few seconds after his legs were broken.
The device consisted of two boards that were fastened at one end which acted like a hinge. The boards would be opened with the back piece sliding between the legs of the prisoner and the wooden cross upon which he hung. Then the top board was brought down to meet the bottom board in one swift plunge. The leg bones caught in between the vice like device were snapped like one would snap a twig. The pain was beyond bearing, but the man’s legs were now immobile and he could not raise himself on them to gasp for air and fill his lungs. His whole body would slump down and only the nails in his hands/wrists would hold him to the cross. He would suffocate instantly.