“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” – I Corinthians 15:1-5
In our thoughts and presentations of the Gospel, much attention is given to the death and resurrection of our Lord, and rightly so. But there is often times a tendency to go from “He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30) to “Now on the first day of the week…” (John 20:1), as if there are no blessings nor comfort to be had between those events. But there are. Let’s not overlook them.
PAUL VIEWED THE BURIAL AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF THE GOSPEL
First, a few preliminaries. In the passage quoted above we have one of the most concise summaries of the Gospel in Scripture. In verse 1, Paul says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you”. Immediately following he clarifies the precise points of that Gospel.
He was crucified…buried…raised on the third day… He appeared.
Paul clearly regarded the burial of Christ Jesus as an essential element of the Gospel, and you will note that in Paul’s presentation in Scripture, he does not fail to include it.
JESUS INCLUDED HIS BURIAL AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF THE GOSPEL
In Matthew 26 and parallel passages, we see Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment, wiping it with her hair (see John 12:7). Note in the passage in Matthew, Jesus says,
“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”(26:13).
How many times will it be said this coming Sunday, “We have met this morning to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus…” Brethren, don’t forget the burial!
Our Lord’s burial is far more than a historical footnote, something that so obviously takes place when you have a dead body.
In our main passage quoted above, Paul twice says these elements of the Gospel were “in accordance with the Scriptures.” In other words, these things have occurred as a fulfillment of prophecy and are essential ingredients of the Gospel message to be taken to the world.
One of those prophecies is found in Isaiah 53. Note verse 9.
“And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9).
A note from JFB on this passage is instructive:
Rather, “His grave was appointed,” or “they appointed Him His grave” [Hengstenberg]; that is, they intended (by crucifying Him with two thieves, Mat_27:38) that He should have His grave “with the wicked.” Compare Joh_19:31, the denial of honorable burial being accounted a great ignominy (see on Isa_14:19; Jer_26:23). and with … rich — rather, “but He was with a rich man,” etc. Gesenius, for the parallelism to “the wicked,” translates “ungodly” (the effect of riches being to make one ungodly); but the Hebrew everywhere means “rich,” never by itself ungodly; the parallelism, too, is one of contrast; namely, between their design and the fact, as it was ordered by God (Mat_27:57; Mar_15:43-46; Joh_19:39, Joh_19:40); two rich men honored Him at His death, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus.
Remember Joseph of Arimathea? A rich man indeed!
“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.” – Matthew 27:57-60
The details of the burial of our Lord are covered in all 4 gospels. Yet is it not true, that often times we focus more on the death and resurrection of Jesus and pass right by His burial? I think so.
So what about the blessings of His burial? We know He died, we know He rose again, we know He ascended to the right hand of the Father where He reigns forever as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
HIS BURIAL GIVES BELIEVERS A HOPE THE WORLD DOES NOT HAVE
Were it not for the mercy and grace of God, had He not intervened at a point in time to show us our wickedness and need for the Savior, we would be hopeless like the rest of mankind outside of Christ.
The world outside of Christ fears death. It is the end of hope for them, yet for the believer, what are we told?
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” – Psalm 116:15.
It pleased the Lord to crush His only Son (Isaiah 53:10), yet the Father did not abandon His Son forever in His burial! Nor will He abandon His true children! Not even in the grave!
Beloved, the world does not have this comfort, yet those who truly are children of God have this blessed hope of not being forsaken in the grave! That’s a blessing! That is the Father looking in our direction, and being pleased because we were redeemed by His Son!
Jesus Christ has transformed even death, sanctified it, set it apart, so that even death is viewed by His children differently than by the world. If we truly believe, we need not fear death nor the grave.
Just as the Father did not forsake His Son in burial, neither will He forsake us. Just as Christ Jesus has risen from the dead, so shall we. God’s Word is true, take comfort!