Sunday, April 17, 2011

[Matt's Messages] "Burying Jesus"

“Burying Jesus”
Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke
April 17, 2011
Luke 23:44-56

This is going to be a very simple sermon.  Maybe the simplest of all 63 of the messages we’ve had in this Certain of Jesus sermon series in the Gospel of Luke.

Just two points this morning.  Blatantly obvious, especially for Christians.
But totally important.

#1. Jesus Died.
#2. Jesus Was Buried.

Jesus Died and Was Buried.

This is the crucial climax of the Gospel of Luke right here.

This is what everything has been leading up to all along.

We’ve had 62 messages in this series since September of 2009.

And they have all be leading up to this.

(And to what we’re going to celebrate next week!  But it’s not Resurrection Sunday yet.  One more week of doom and gloom.)

Jesus died.

When we stopped at verse 43 last week, Jesus was dying.

He we left Him hanging there.

Battered, bloody, mocked, spat upon, tortured, flogged, convicted of crimes that He did not commit, Jesus was nailed to a cross and was crucified.

He hung there approximately 6 hours on that day.

And our text picks up again at the mid point of that torture.

Isaac Watts said it well:

Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut its glories in,
when Christ, the mighty maker, died for his own creature's sin.
    [Isaac Watts, Alas and Did My Savior Bleed?]

For three hours on that day the sun gave out.

Verse 45 says “the sun stopped shining.” 

Literally the Greek reads, “the sun failed” or “gave up.” The sun just quit.

It didn’t want to look at what was happening to Jesus.

This was a sign of judgment.  It was a sign of darkness.  It was a sign of mourning.

The universe was mourning.

The universe was grieving.

What was going on then physically?  I don’t know.

Was there also a natural event that explains this?  Was it an eclipse?  Maybe.  Was it an sirocco, a hot sand storm that covered the sun?  Maybe.

Was it local just over Israel or global so that the whole world experienced it?

I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that it happened.

“Darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour for the sun stopped shining.”

The Lord predicted things like this.  In Amos chapter 8, the LORD gives this judgment:  “In that day," declares the Sovereign LORD, "I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your religious feasts into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.”

Now, that may or may not have been about this day, but it certainly could be used to describe it.

The sun went away at the point at which the sun should shine the brightest.

And the mourning, the grieving, for an only son, a bitter day.

That’s what’s going on here.  God’s only son is dying.

The sun is not the only thing to break.  V.45

“And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.”

The other gospels tell us that it ripped from top to bottom.

This was the curtain (or veil) that separated the holy place from the most holy place (the holy of holies) in the temple.  It was made of fine Babylonian cloth of blue, scarlet, and purple and was a thick as a man’s hand.

And while Jesus was dying, while it was dark outside, so supernaturally dark–the curtain was torn in two.  Rip!

And that is deep symbolism.

The curtain symbolized the distance between God and Us.

You and I would have never ever ever seen the inside of that room!

In the days of His flesh, Jesus never saw the inside of that room!

Only one person, one day a year, the high priest on the Day of Atonement went into that room and only with blood.

And that was good because we are sinful and God is holy.

But something has changed.

As Jesus died, the curtain ripped down the middle into two pieces.

And the way into the holy of holies was opened.

Access. Unlimited access through Jesus to God was opened up.

Hebrews 10:19-22.  “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, [that curtain also symbolized Jesus’ body, it worked both ways] and since we have a great priest over the house of God [Jesus Christ!], let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith...”

Draw near to God.

That’s what was going on here.  Jesus was making a way for us to draw near to God.

He had just promised the bad guy next to Him on the next cross over that today He would be with Him in paradise.  And the curtain of the temple ripped open to say, “Welcome!  Come on in!”

Draw near to God.

Have you prayed today? I mean, really prayed.

Do you know what a privilege that is?

Have you drawn near to God in prayer?  In faith?  With a sincere heart in full assurance of faith?

That is only possible because Jesus died.

Draw near.

“The curtain of the temple was torn in two.”  The temple was no longer the temple.  It was no longer the meeting place between God and man.

Jesus was.

He was the true temple all along.

And as His flesh was torn so was the curtain.

And then, Luke tells us that Jesus died.  V.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.”

Again, at the very end, Jesus calls God, His Father.

And He trusts Himself. He entrusts Himself to His Father’s hands.

He died fairly quickly for someone who was crucified.  Crucifixion could go on for much longer than this.  But He had suffered enough and He died of His own will.

Weak as He was from loss of blood and almost no oxygen, He still managed to call out in a loud voice His prayer of faith.

And then He died.

King James says, “he gave up the ghost.”  Which just means, He stopped breathing.

And He was dead.

Jesus was dead.

Now, just pretend for a few seconds that you don’t know about next week.

That you don’t know what’s going to happen on Sunday morning.

This is almost unbelievable.

Jesus died.

Jesus did.

The Jesus we’ve been learning about for 62 messages.

Can you believe that He died?

The One who could do such miracles.
The One who taught with such authority.
The One who we love and trust and respect and honor.
The One who we want to follow.

Jesus died?

Our family has been reading this great book, In Search of the Source by Neil Anderson and Hyatt Moore.  It’s a missionary book by a Wycliffe translator who worked with the Folopa people in Papua New Guinea.

The Folopa were former cannibals to whom the gospel had come.

And Neil and Carol Anderson were translating the scriptures into their own heart language.  Not an easy thing to do.

It’s a great book.  I highly recommend it to everyone here, except for maybe the youngest children as there are some gruesome things in it about their cannibalistic warring past.

In the chapter we read most recently, Neil was trying to translate the word for “flog” in the Gospel of Mark.

And it wasn’t going well.  He says:
Again, we were stuck. I didn’t have a word for “flog.”
“What do you call it,” I asked if someone hits another, say an enemy, with something like rope?
That drew a blank.  Apparently hitting someone with a rope was nothing that sounded familiar to them.  But it was about to happen to Jesus so I cast about for other ways to describe it.  My eyes fell on a piece of rattan vine left over from tying the thatch on the roof.  It was lying on the old wood stove.  The vine was about three feet long and as thick as my little finger. I went around the table, picked it up, and instructed the men to imagine the vine was a piece of rope and the wood stove was the back of Jesus.  Then with all my might I started beating the iron top of the stove.
Immediately Owarape Ali–his eyes wild and his nostrils flaring–shouted out: “That’s not hitting with a rope, that’s fokoso sirapo!” He was indignant, staring up at me form his place on the floor.
Fokoso sirapo.  I walked back around the table and wrote the words down.
“Tell me more about it,” I said.
But when I looked up they were all staring at me. It was like it had taken them right back to the old days [of their cannabalistic wars].
“Wait a minute,” someone said.  “Do you mean to say they did THAT to Jesus?”
“But here he just said they were going to do it. Did they really do it to Him?”   


Quiet fell on the room.  Finally Eleke Whi Ali said, “We used to do that.  But we only did it to our enemies, and then just before we were going to kill them.”

“Yes,” I said, “that is coming, too.”

Heads were down.  In the corners, the large shell earrings of the old men swung back and forth in utter dejection.  The memory of fokoso sirapo “floggings” was too fresh in their minds. They were seeing a deeper vision of the abject cruelty–the enormity of it all–than I had ever considered.  And that this would happen to Jesus. . . .
And how much more than the flogging to think that the ultimate evil happened to Jesus.

Jesus died.

He didn’t breathe any more.

He didn’t think any more.

He flatlined.

If you did an MRI, you’d see no brainwaves.
If you did a EKG, no heartbeat.

No vital signs.  No life.

Jesus died.

The unthinkable had happened.

Verses 47, 48, and 49 give us some of the reactions of those who witnessed Jesus’ death.

V.47 "The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’”

The centurion was a Roman soldier who was over 100 Roman soldiers.

And this centurion was probably in charge of Jesus’ crucifixion.

He had never seen anything like it.

He probably seen many many crucifixions and could have been jaded about it.

But he had never seen anything like it.

The way Jesus suffered.
The way Jesus saved people from the Cross.
The way Jesus entrusted Himself to His Father.
The way the preternatural darkness settled on everyone.

“Surely this was a righteous man.”

That is the last statement that Luke brings us about the innocence of Jesus.

Jesus was righteous.  He did not deserve what was happening to Him.

But that was God’s plan. The righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God.

The centurion knew that this was all wrong.

And it seems like the crowd does, too.  Perhaps many of the same people who were clamoring for Jesus to be crucified and ran up to watch as part of the mob.  V.48

“When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.”

These are not Jesus’ disciples.

These are crowd members who are filled with emotion, sorrow, regret(?) at what had happened to Jesus.

They got what they asked for, but then they weren’t so sure that it was a good thing.

And verse 49 describes the disciples.

“But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

I can’t imagine what they felt at that moment.

Grief. Sadness. Shock.

Those seem like small words to describe what must have been their feelings.

Jesus died.

And He needed burying.  V.50


“Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man,  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.”

Apparently, Joseph of Arimathea had not been present–maybe he wasn’t summoned–at the trial of Jesus.

He was apparently well-to-do, and he was a good man.  He did not agree with the leaders and was waiting, longing for the Jesus’ favorite topic of teaching–the Kingdom of God.

And saw to the burial of Jesus.

Most criminals would have just been tossed with others into a shallow grave to cover up the stink and stop the spread of disease.

But Jesus, though crucified as a criminal was honored in His death. V.52

“Going to Pilate, [Joseph] asked for Jesus' body. 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.”

The other gospels tell us that Nicodemus helped Joseph of Arimathea.

Joseph got bold and went directly to Pilate and got permission to take the body and place it in his own tomb in Jerusalem.

He was rich enough to have had a tomb excavated from a rock, and rich enough to get one of the new fangled ones with the stone the rolled back to open it the tomb and then rolled in front to seal it.

And Joseph put Jesus’ body in the tomb and closed it up.

This fulfilled in an amazing way yet another prophecy from Isaiah 53.

Verse 9 says, “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death...”

Who would have ever guessed?

V.54 tell us, “It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. [This all had to happen quickly if they were going to be obedient to the 4th commandment.]  The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”

Notice that these ladies knew exactly where Jesus had been laid.

There was no mistaking it. When we open up chapter 24 next Sunday, it’s not like they had taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

They had gone with Joseph to see the tomb and how his body was laid in it.  Alone.

And they thought He needed more anointing, so they got their stuff ready for Sunday when the Sabbath was over.

But they knew where they were going.

But the saddest thing about this is that they had to leave Him there.

And He was dead.

And buried.

He wasn’t alive.

There was a finality about it.

The stone was pulled down and placed in front of the hole.

Jesus was buried.


We won’t understand the Empty Tomb until we understand the Filled Tomb.

Filled with the lifeless corpse of Jesus.

And that’s where we’re going to leave it this week.

Most of the time, on Palm Sunday, we go out with joy.

But this week, we go out on a somber note, realizing that Jesus had to die.

And Jesus had to be buried for our salvation.

The sun had to stop shining.
The curtain had to be torn in two.
Jesus had to breath his last breath.

For you and me to be saved.


Have you drawn near to God?

Have you to come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

The curtain is torn in two.  Draw near.

The centurion was right.  Jesus was a righteous man.

And He died for the unrighteous to bring us to God.

Put your faith in Him.


Have you thanked Him recently for the Cross?

Have you praised Him for what He did for you?

It was unthinkable.

But the unthinkable happened.

Jesus, Thank you!

Hallelujah, what a savior!


Have you told someone recently about Jesus?

There are many many who have never heard.

And never understood what happened on that fateful Friday 2000 years ago.

Tell someone this week.
Invite someone this week to come to Resurrection Sunday.

Because we know the end of the story, and it’s really good.

There are 10 men and women who are planning to be baptized next week.

And their going back into the water symbolizes their identification with Jesus’s death and burial.

Down into death and burial.

And then...up into new life.

Those 10 baptismal candidates are planning to tell the world that Jesus died and was buried and they belong to Him.

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and Jerusalem
Jesus at the Party
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus and the Lost: Part One
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three
Jesus on Money
Sneering at Jesus
Jesus and the Great Chasm
Jesus Said to His Disciples...
Thanking Jesus
Jesus and the Coming Kingdom
Jesus Says, "Keep Praying"
The Proud, the Humble, and Jesus
Jesus Does the Impossible
Why Did Jesus Come?
Investing for Jesus in 2011
King Jesus
Jesus and the Temple
The Authority of Jesus
Jesus and Caesar
Jesus and the Sadducees
Jesus' Turn
Jesus and the End of the World
The Plan for Jesus to Die
Jesus' Last Lessons
Arresting Jesus
Judging Jesus
Crucifying Jesus