Summary: Jesus' burial was conducted by two unlikely undertakers: A wealthy man and a member of the Sanhedrin.
I don’t really like watching television commercials. So when I want to watch a program or a golf match, I’ll usually record it on my TiVo. Then when I sit down to watch it I can fast forward through all the commercials. I love playing golf, but watching golf on TV can be little like watching paint dry. Those guys are so slow, especially when they are lining up a putt. But with my DVR I can fast-forward when someone is lining up a putt or it’s a player I’m not interested in seeing. I think a DVR is a great invention.
Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but when it comes to the burial of Jesus, most of us just fast forward through it. We skip it. We are really into the details and the meaning of the cross. And then we celebrate the wonder and beauty of the resurrection. But the burial? Nothing there, so I’ll fast forward from the cross to the empty tomb.
Not so fast. Let’s stop and talk about the burial of Jesus’ body. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he summarized his gospel message into three points. He wrote, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”(1 Corinthians 15:3-4) Christ died. Christ was buried. Christ was raised from the dead. If you ignore the burial, you are omitting 1/3 of the Gospel Message.
So, let’s read how Mark describes the burial of Jesus in Mark 15:40-47.
“Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.”
I’ve entitled this message, “Buried, He Carried My Sins Far Away.” I got this title from a song written by an interesting man. In the late 1800s there was a Presbyterian pastor named J. Wilbur Chapman. He was inspired by the evangelistic preaching of Dwight L. Moody, so Chapman became an evangelist. In one of his crusades, a professional baseball player named Billy Sunday came to Christ. Billy Sunday went on to become one of the most effective evangelists in America. Billy Sunday was invited to preach a crusade in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was already booked far in advance so Billy Sunday sent one of his assistant evangelists named Mordecai Hamm. Mordecai Hamm preached in Charlotte and one night a tall lanky boy who worked on a nearby dairy farm came forward to surrender to Christ. His name was Billy Graham who has preached to more people than anyone in history.
But Wilbur Chapman was also a writer and musician. He wrote a famous hymn that many of us grew up singing. It was entitled “One Day” and it tells the whole story of Jesus in five verses. A few years ago, Casting Crowns revised the song as “Glorious Day.”
But to me, the chorus is one of the best summaries of the gospel truth. I want us to sing it a couple of times today. Living he loved me; dying he saved me; Buried, he carried my sins far away; Rising, he justified freely forever; One day he’s coming—oh glorious day!
In this message we’re going to look at three truths about the burial of Jesus and then we’ll conclude with one take-away truth you can apply to your life.
I. JESUS’ BURIAL WAS CONDUCTED BY TWO UNLIKELY UNDERTAKERS
One might have expected some of the disciples to claim His body, but they were hiding in fear. But Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are the two unlikely undertakers who remove the body of Jesus from the cross, prepare the corpse, and carry it into the tomb. The Italian Master Caravaggio has captured this scene in his painting The Entombment of Christ which is in the Vatican Museum. Mary, mother of James is seen lifting her hands in grief. A young Mary Magdalene has her head bowed weeping into a scarf. Mary, the mother of Jesus is depicted as an older woman wearing the habit of a nun, a little artistic license. Joseph has grabbed the legs and Nicodemus is lifting the torso with his hand touching the wound in Jesus’ side. There is a sense of urgency as they are racing to beat sunset when the Passover Sabbath began.