2015-11-22 Dead and Buried

LUKE 23:44-56                                                                                NOVEMBER 22, 2015


I have found that many adults do not like darkness and are often nervous or anxious at night. This is a normal reaction by many people. I find it wise to remind myself that God made the light and the darkness. I am reminded of the words of the psalmist. Psalm 139:11-12 (NIV) 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” God is in control of his world.

In the Old Testament darkness was usually associated with God’s judgment. The prophet Amos in declaring that God was going to bring judgment against Israel said of darkness. Amos 8:9 (NIV) 9 “In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. “The prophet Zephaniah also connected darkness to the judgment of God. Zephaniah 1:15 (NIV) 15 That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.”

In Luke’s Gospel we find that during the crucifixion of Jesus that premature darkness descended upon the land. Luke 23:44-45 (NIV) 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” The sixth hour would have been noon and the darkness lasted until 3:00 PM. These two signs indicate God’s judgment was made manifest and that the temple was included. The tearing of the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place shows that God has opened access to God because of Christ’s sacrificial death. Hebrews 10:19-20 (NIV) 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.”

Jesus after hours of struggling to breathe spoke aloud to his Father. Luke 23:46 (NIV) 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Jesus never wavered in his trust of his Father. Jesus quotes from Psalm 31 which is a prayer for deliverance from one who is suffering persecution.  Psalm 31:5 (NIV) 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.”

It is important to note that Jesus died. Jesus did not faint. He died. When a sacrifice was given in the Temple the animal was slain. Jesus was slain and took on the penalty for our sins. Some skeptics have claimed that Jesus only fainted and was then buried. Luke, as a physician notes “he breathed his last.”

Luke now returns to how Jesus’ death affected those observing. Luke recorded three reactions. Luke 23:47-49 (NIV) 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

A Roman officer, who leads 100 soldiers, had most likely been in charge of the execution and he gave praise to God. The Greek word he used could either be translated as “righteous” or as “innocent”. Either way the centurion observed that Jesus was indeed a good man who was innocent and suffered unjustly.

The crowd who at times had been mocking, has now understood that Jesus was innocent. Beating of the breast was a sign of mourning and even possibly repentance. Just imagine having observed the suffering of Jesus, the darkness, the prayer of Jesus asking for God to forgive his tormentors, and the profession of faith by one of the criminals! Their reaction lays the groundwork for the huge numbers of people who confessed their sins and their faith at the sermon given by Peter at Pentecost.

The third group was mainly a group of women who had followed Jesus from the start. These women saw Jesus die and they observed closely where he was buried. They observed the actions of Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin.

Luke 23:50-54 (NIV) 50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.”

Joseph of Arimathea was described as a good and upright man. He was a follower of Jesus and had not consented to the execution of Jesus. Joseph was concerned with following the commands of scripture. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (NIV) 22 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, 23 you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.”

It is thought that Joseph may have buried Jesus in a tomb that was going to be used by his own family. Jesus would have been laid on a raised platform and the body washed and then wrapped in a linen cloth. Joseph was hurrying to get Jesus laid in the tomb before sunset and the beginning of the Sabbath, as no work is allowed after the Sabbath begins.

Luke 23:55-56 (NIV) 55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”  The women followers of Jesus wanted to show their respect and honor by finishing the job of preparing the body for burial that had been begun by Joseph.  It seems that the women did not trust any man to have done the work of preparing the body!

This passage in Luke is significant because everyone knew that Jesus died on the cross. No one acted as if Jesus was going to be raised from the dead. They surely heard Jesus talk about the coming resurrection but they had not really understood it. We also see that many of the people were beginning to understand that Jesus had been innocent and yet had suffered and been executed unjustly.

The cross is the central message we need to understand. Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV) 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Jesus died for the church! Jesus died for you!

This thanksgiving, remember to thank God for Christ’s sacrifice of himself on the cross.

Thanks be to God!