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The Temporary Tomb of Jesus

Affirmation: Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”                                      -Luke 24:46-47

During the 30 something years that Jesus lived on the earth, He fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies, in the dozens.  

Before we ever get to the cross, we see such wonderful prophecies fulfilled as that He would be born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, be a Jew descended from Abraham, Jacob, the tribe of Judah, and the line of King David. He would be God with us, bring light to the Galilee region, and work miracles, including giving sight to the blind.

That’s just 8 prophecies before we ever get to the cross. At least 8 more are fulfilled during the week He was crucified.

Riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, being betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver, the dispersal of His followers, being counted among evildoers at His death, interceding for those who killed Him, people gambling for His clothes, not one of His bones being broken, and people looking on the one they pierced.

Dr. Peter Stoner, a professor of math and astronomy, once calculated the probabilities that just one man who had ever lived could fulfill even just 8 prophecies made hundreds of years before He lived.

“We find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all 8 prophecies is 1 in one hundred quadrillion, or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.”       -Dr. Peter Stoner

To describe how small hat probability is, Dr. Stone suggested visualizing taking 100 quadrillion silver dollars, and putting them two feet deep across the state of Texas. You would only make a mark on one of them. Then you would blindfold a man, and ask him to pick one out randomly. The chance the one would be the marked one would be 1 in 100 quadrillion.

Nobody who ever lived is like Jesus – God come to earth to save mankind!

Read Luke 23:50-56           The Temporary Tomb of Jesus                Let’s Pray!

From today’s passage we can add two more fulfilled prophecies: Jesus was buried in a rich man’s grave (Isa. 53:9), and His body not undergoing decay (Psalm 16:10) before His days would be prolonged through His resurrection from the dead.  

Let’s first look at the two men who buried Jesus.

Joseph and Nicodemus are secret disciples no more                                 V. 50-51

Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.

According to John’s gospel, Nicodemus, the one who came to Jesus at night in John 3, the one Jesus emphatically told that he needed to be born again, that Nicodemus was with him.

We’re given several short descriptors of this man Joseph.

He was a Jew from the city of Arimathea. If it’s the place we think, it was 20 miles Northwest of Jerusalem.

He was a prominent member of the council, the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43).

He had disagreed with their decision to put Jesus to death. Mark 14:64 told us they all agreed that Jesus was deserving of death, so it appears Joseph and Nicodemus had refused to take part in their illegal sham trial.

We’re told here that Joseph was a good man, a just man.

It is rare for someone to be called good in the Bible. Because no one is good but God alone, usually being called good means you responded rightly to revelation.

It next says that Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God. Some translations say he was looking forward to the Kingdom, just like Simeon and Anna were back in Luke chapter 2.

Jesus often spoke of the Kingdom, and the obvious implication was that He was the Kingdom’ King. The rest of the council had denied that Jesus was the King of the Jews, but Simeon had come to believe in Jesus.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission.          -John 19:38

Joseph of Arimathea is like a lot of people I have met. They believe in Jesus, but out of fear haven’t gone public with their faith yet.

When Joseph saw Jesus unashamedly die for his sins, he didn’t care what his peers thought any more – he was going to do right by the Jesus he loved.

Apparently the same thing happened to Nicodemus! John 19:39 tells us he helped Joseph with the body, and brought 100 pounds worth of myrrh and aloes to apply to Jesus’ body after cleaning it in accord with Jewish customs.  

It was apparently something Nicodemus had been thinking about since John 3.

You may remember in John 7, when Nicodemus challenged his fellow religious leaders for condemning Jesus without giving him a fair hearing and examining the evidence. Their reply was to mock him and say, “Are you also from Galilee?!”

After Nicodemus saw Jesus die, he said, “Yes I am – I’m with Jesus!” I’m not going to be a secret follower any longer!

Jesus’ body is lovingly placed in Joseph’s unused tomb                           V. 52-53

Look at verses 52-53 – This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had lain before.

According to Mark’s gospel, Pilate was surprised Jesus was already dead, but his centurion confirmed it (Mark 15:44-45). John’s gospel goes into detail about how no bones were broken, in fulfilment of the prophecy of Ps. 34:10 (John 19:31-37).

To speed up death, soldiers would break the legs of those being crucified so they could not lift themselves to breathe.

But Jesus was already dead, confirmed when a solider pierced his side and the blood came out mixed with water. That fulfilled Zechariah 12:10, which said they would look on Him whom they pierced.

In Deuteronomy 21:22-23 Jews were told not to leave a fellow Jews hanged body up overnight. Had Joe and Nick not acted the solders may have thrown Jesus’ body on the city dump like other criminals.

The Sanhedrin would have loved the symbolism of Jesus’ body hanging there a couple of days being picked at by vultures and then being thrown on the dump. Not on Joe and Nick’s watch!

Two things let us know they had prepared for this moment – First is how quickly Joseph got to Pilate to ask him for the body. Jesus died at 3 and His body was in the tomb before sunset – Joseph acted quickly!

The second is that Nicodemus had 100 pounds of essential oils ready. They could not have bought the oils the next day. After taking the Passover meal at twilight, the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the next day, and Sabbath rules applied.

They reverently took that body from the cross, washed away the bloodstains, wrapped the body in linen, and carried it to Joseph’s new tomb and left it there, intending, after the Sabbath passed, to embalm it according to Jewish custom.                   -H.A. Ironside, 461             Prophecy was fulfilled –

He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked – But with the rich at His death.              -Isaiah 53:8b-9

The fact the ladies were eyewitnesses of this just adds that extra level of authentication to the record. They made sure these men took care of Jesus, and were ready themselves to finish the proper care of the body after the Sabbath.

Another level of authentication is that Matthew’s gospel tells us that the Jews remembered Jesus had spoken of rising from the dead, were afraid the disciples might steal the body, and got Pilate’s permission to set up a guard at the tomb. Fortunately, Jesus wouldn’t need this tomb very long!

A new womb conceived Him, and a new grave enclosed Him. The womb is the Lord’s womb. It is virginal, The tomb is virginal. Should I not rather say that the tomb itself is a womb? There is, in fact, a great similarity. Just as the Lord came out from His mother’s womb living, so also He rose living from Joseph’s tomb.                                                         -Maximus of Turin (4th century AD)

In two weeks, we will talk about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Next week I am going to spend time talking about what Jesus’ Spirit was doing on that “Silent Saturday” between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

But as we end today, let’s spend a couple of moments talking about how these events went along with Jewish feasts.

Jesus was crucified that Thursday afternoon about 3 PM, the same time Jews were slaughtering their Passover Lamb. At Twilight that night, Friday began and the Passover was eaten.

Each year the Passover was on Nisan 14 and began an 8 day 3 feasts in one festival. The Feast of Passover on Nisan 14 celebrated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

On Nisan 15 they began celebrating the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread. This commemorated how they left Egypt so fast there wasn’t even enough time for their bread to rise through the decay of the leaven (yeast).

On Nisan 16 they celebrated the Feast of Firstfruits, which was when the Priest would wave the firstfruits of the Barley Harvest in anticipation of all the fruit to come.

50 days later they would celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, showcasing the firstfruits of the wheat harvest.

Christ our Passover (I Cor. 5:7)                                                               Redemption

Christ the Holy One whose body did not decay (Acts 2:27)            Sanctification

Christ our Firstfruits (I Cor. 15:20)                                                        Resurrection

Guarantee that the rest of the crop would be harvested!

We are among the rest of the harvest!

“You will not leave my soul in Hades (Sheol), nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption (to decompose in the grave).”         -Acts 2:27; Psalm 16:10

As we close, let me ask if there is anyone out there like Joseph and Nicodemus.

You now believe in Jesus with all your heart. But you haven’t gone public with your faith yet.

Don’t forget what Jesus said –

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in Heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before Mt Father in Heaven.                -Matthew 10:32-33

There came the time when Joseph and Nicodemus stepped forward and their words and actions showed they no longer cared what others thought – they were going to stand for Christ before men.

It’s time for you to do the same – Boy did Christ ever stand for you!

Let’s Pray!