Today the family will take Sister Lydia to the graveside. We call that her final resting place. When we think of it in terms of Jesus, it took his death, burial and resurrection for us to have salvation.
Matthew 27:62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
Now, let’s go back a few verses.
57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. 61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
After all the suffering–the beating and other physical harm from first one and then another–we know that each blow made Jesus hurt. He was made to wear a crown of thorns on his head. He carried his own cross and was then hung on it by his own body weight. He hung there for six hours, unable to hardly breathe. Crucifixion is a slow, agonizing way to die. A crown of thorns. A beaten back. We think we suffer but no one has ever suffered like Jesus. The pain he tolerated would have killed us early on. He kept himself alive until he had borne every sin. He kept his breath going, his heart beating. He told them no man could take his life. He gave it. Mercifully, it was done in six hours. Jesus said “it is finished” and completed the work of salvation.
What’s left for us is to be willing to turn to him. We can’t have our sins removed by any other belief or any self help. We need to be saved from sin and there is a Savior who loved us enough to bear our sin on the cross. He’s all we need. Put faith in him and call on his name to be free from sin. He died so that we would not be eternally punished in hell. Because of Jesus we can go to a better place in a better body. When we believe, spiritual death let’s go of the soul and we are born again.
Jesus died. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus asked for his body. This is the same Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, who came to Jesus by night. He knew the religion of the Old Testament and practiced it. Yet he knew something was missing. Jesus told him he must be born again. It wasn’t going back into his mother’s womb. This body will die. It won’t go to heaven. It ages because of sin. It is made of the earth and will go back to it. Jesus said we must have a new birth, of our soul, by the washing of the blood of Jesus Christ. It took Jesus’ death to have his blood.
It took Jesus’ burial. These men requested his body. He had to be buried. They talked sensibly to Pilate. Jesus told them he’d be buried but would arise on the third day. Why be buried? Why didn’t they just take him off the cross, lie him on the ground and wait three days for him to come back to life? At death the body begins to decay. It has to be dealt with. His body was anointed with some spices and wound up in a burial cloth. It proved he was dead. Yet he had no grave. Joseph had a new tomb, never used. He was glad for Jesus to be buried there. It wasn’t that far from Calvary. A round stone served as the door.
Everyone else who had gone to a tomb there were in “their final resting place.” The men saw Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. Here we see the funeral procession, as it were. The tomb is dark and shadowy. His body is taken in and laid down. The women were told to watch from the entrance. I can see them all bow their heads. Maybe a few words were spoken. They left. That’s what we do. The family proceeds to the gravesite, a few words are said, and we leave. Afterwards the grave is filled in. How final it seems.
A stone was rolled over Jesus’ tomb. Is it the end? Isn’t that what we think. It’s final. The hardest thing to do is turn and walk away. There is a nagging emptiness. Jesus had to be buried. We can’t escape our sins. They don’t age. They don’t die. We’ve sinned today. Our body is dying but the sin is alive. A soul goes on. It lives to meet God in judgment. There is no final resting place for sin. Imagine what Mary Magdalene thought. Would those demons Jesus delivered her from come back? Peter denied him and never got to say “I’m sorry.” If Jesus is still in the tomb, we are all still in our sins.
The soldiers made sure Jesus’ body was not tampered with. Many had a party. Jesus was dead and buried. Isn’t that what we hear today? God is dead. They make fun of him. They take his name in vain. They say the Bible is ridiculous. We need Jesus now! Yes. He was dead. Yes. He was buried. It wasn’t because the world killed him or that the devil won. When I go to the cemetery to visit my parents’ graves I know their bodies are still there, even after all these years. But because of Jesus I know their soul is with the Lord. Everyone who dies with trust in Jesus is there with him. The grave cannot hold the soul.
On the third day the stone was rolled away. Jesus came forth. Later he spoke to Mary Magdalene and Peter. He was no longer dead. He was alive! He came from the grave with victory. Our sins are buried in that tomb. Trust Jesus to take your sin and throw it in the tomb. The wicked may think they have triumphed but the time is coming when Jesus’ enemies will be under his feet.
Jesus is not in the tomb but it’s not empty. Our sin is buried there. The devil may come after you but he can’t have you if you call on the Lord for help. The grim reaper thought he’d won when Jesus died but he came out of the grave and told death and sin they were buried. Done with.
Do you comprehend this? Your sin is paid for. You don’t have to be in defeat. Is there something that needs to be put in that empty tomb? Jesus is waiting to take it from you once and for all. Death, burial, and resurrection–our salvation and victory.