Summary: The burial of Christ confronts us with the clear reality of his death and resurrection. The burial of Christ ensures that we accept the historicity of his death and resurrection.
The gospel is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. The Apostle Paul writes, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that 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). Here, three components of the gospel message are presented in apparently equal significance. This presents a potential difficulty because there is very little in the New Testament, especially the Epistles, that demonstrates the theological significance of the burial of Christ.
The death of Christ is the means by which we receive atonement (Romans 5:12; Colossians 1:22). We have hope, spiritual victory and power to live for God through the resurrection of Christ (Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:3). But what great theological truth is contained in the burial of Christ? It seems out of place to include his burial on equal footing with the death and resurrection, as Paul does in his summary statement of the content of the gospel.
Why does the Apostles Creed include, “Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: The third day he rose again from the dead.”
What raises the BURIAL of Christ to be included at the same level as the DEATH and RESURRECTION of Christ?
The answer is found in Matthew 12:38-42.
The burial of Christ confronts us with the clear reality of his death and resurrection. The burial of Christ ensures that we accept the historicity of his death and resurrection.
Jesus brings us face to face with the reality of his death in his response to the questioning of the Pharisees. His answer to their question applies to us today.
I. What Do You Want from Jesus?
The Pharisees wanted a SIGN (Matt. 12:38). Christ had already performed MANY miracles.
The setting for this interaction with the Pharisees takes place in CAPERNAUM, where Jesus had performed many miracles.
He healed a man with a WITHERED HAND (Matt 12:9)
He healed a DEMON POSSESSED man who was blind and mute (Matt 12:22)
He performed MANY OTHER MIRACLES in Galilee (Matt 11:21-24)
But These weren’t the signs they were looking for! They wanted PROOF that Jesus could solve their POLITICAL problems. The “miracle” they were looking for was the ability to overthrow Rome. Perhaps they would be impressed if Jesus could turn a stone into a chariot, or a blade of grass into a spear.
The people of Galilee had ALREADY REJECTED Jesus.
Jesus was rejected by his OWN FAMILY (Matt 13:53-58)
Before we condemn the Jews of Capernaum too quickly, let us realize that we are often little different from them. Even today, people want a JESUS of their own making
For example, take a look at paintings of Jesus. It’s amazing how much JESUS looks like the people and culture of the painter! Examine the paintings of Jesus and you will find Black Jesus, Chinese Jesus, white European Jesus. We cast Jesus in our own image.
When Jesus answers the Jews who said, “show us a sign that we might believe,” Jesus replies to those seeking SELF-MADE RELIGION. The answer that Jesus gives is that we should consider the REALITY of his coming DEATH.
II. What You Must Face if you Want to Know Jesus.
“He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:39–40, NIV84)
Jesus condemns Man-made religion.
The word “wicked” reveals the sinful moral behavior of these people.
“Adulterous” demonstrates that they were unfaithful to God.
This phrase “wicked generation is used 3x in this context.
It is used in Matthew 12:39
It is also used in Matthew 12:41 “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” (Matthew 12:41, NIV84)
Finally, it is used in Matthew 12:42. “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12:42, NIV84).
The significance is that The PAGANS of Ninevah repented at Jonah’s preaching. The PAGAN Queen of Egypt recognized Solomon. But the Jews of Jesus day had a more powerful representative - the very Son of God - and they failed to believe!