Sunday, April 10, 2022

“They Laid Jesus There” [Matt's Messages]

“They Laid Jesus There”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
April 10, 2022 :: John 19:31-42

In this story, from the beginning to the end of this message today, our Lord Jesus Christ will be dead.

We know that Jesus is not dead right now. That’s what we’re getting ready to celebrate next Sunday. Amen? “Raise your joys and triumphs high!”

But in this story, in the passage of Scripture that we are considering this morning, John chapter 19 verses 31 through 42, Jesus. is. dead.

Totally dead.

No breath in His lungs. No beating in His heart. No brain-waves in His skull.

Last week, we read about His dying. We started in verse 17 and watched Him carry His own cross to His own execution. And we read about His crucifixion. Nailed to a cross. Fighting against asphyxiation. Excruciating pain and anguish and agony and horror.

Shame. The execution squad gambling for His last stitch of clothing. 

A mocking placard pasted above His head charging Him, in effect, with sedition and insurrection and rebellion.

Incredible thirst. And then He cried out, “It is finished,” and He gave up His spirit. And He died.

He wasn’t pretending. He wasn’t faking. He wasn’t acting.

After He died, nobody yelled, “Cut!” And then He smiled and got down from the cross. It wasn’t an act. It wasn’t just a show. No, Jesus was executed and died. Jesus laid down His life, and He died.

He was now a corpse. Nailed to a cross.

And He’s going to stay a lifeless corpse throughout this message. He’s not going to do anything. Say anything. Teach anything. His body is just a carcass.

In fact, when we go to sing our closing song this morning, we are only going to sing the first three verses. And not the one about the resurrection. 

You’ll have to come back next week if you want to sing more about the resurrection.

Today, in this story, Jesus will stay dead.

I think it’s good for us to think about Jesus being truly dead. The Bible emphasizes it. It gives us these twelve verses in John’s gospel and more in the others about what happened on Friday night and all day Saturday. 

And the Bible emphasizes that Jesus not only truly died but was buried.

The Apostle Paul said that Jesus’ burial was an essential part of the gospel of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It matters that He was buried. The Apostles’ Creed that we’ve been confessing with the whole church throughout space and church history is very concise, but it makes sure to include that Jesus “...was crucified, dead, and buried.”

We all want to get to the resurrection, but we have to through the death first. And the burial first.

Most of the pronouns change at this point in the story. There are a lot fewer “he’s” and there are more “it’s” to describe His body. John keeps saying, “the body of Jesus.” Because He has given up His spirit.

This body is a corpse.

Just hanging there suspended in the air, nailed to the cross.

He is dead.

Now, they don’t all realize it at first.

Nobody is checking His pulse. He could be hanging on. Victims of crucifixion could last for days. 

But this was a holy week for the Jews, and they wanted the whole thing hurried up. Look at verse 31.

“Now it was the day of Preparation [the day before the Sabbath of Passover Week], and the next day was to be a special Sabbath [the Sabbath of Passover Week, the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread]. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.”

They wanted things sped up.

The Romans liked to leave the criminals on the cross until the vultures ate them off.

The crucified were a warning to others. They were billboards hanging there saying, “This is what happens when you rebel against the power of Rome!”

But the Jews (who did not normally participate in crucifixions, they didn’t have the power to do that. The Jews could stone somebody but not crucify them at this time. The Jews) were taught by Moses to never leave someone hanging overnight.

[Read Deuteronomy chapter 21 to see that and how they followed that law in the book of Joshua chapter 8.]

And they especially didn’t want that mess hanging there during the Passover. How gauche! How tacky! How unholy and unclean.

So they asked Pilate to have the three criminals’ legs broken.

What would that do? If you can’t push up on the stake, you die much more quickly of asphyxiation. Look at verse 32.

“The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.”

“This one is already checked out.”

Think about this. The men on either side of Jesus are still struggling to breathe and might for days. The other gospels tell us that they deserved to be there and had heaped abuse at Jesus. But then one of them repented and asked Jesus to save him right then and there, and He did!

Jesus died, and that guy was still alive. But he won’t be for long because the soldiers have broken have legs.

But they didn’t have to break Jesus’ legs. He was dead already.

He was dead already.

Further proof? Verse 34.

“Instead [of breaking his legs], one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”

Did that hurt Him?

He just got pierced in the side with spear. Did that hurt?

No. It didn’t hurt because He was already dead.

And apparently, “the blood from the heart mingled with the fluid from the pericardial sac to produce [a] flow of blood and water” from out of Jesus’ side (Carson, 623).

I don’t know why the soldier did it. Perhaps to confirm His death which it assuredly did. But maybe just out of cruelty and brutality and perversity?

Either way, it proved that Jesus was dead.

He didn’t flinch. He just flowed. His fluids just flowed out His side.

The color would have drained out of His skin.

He was gone. And His body still nailed to the cross.

Look at what John says in verse 35.

“The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.”

I think that John is talking about himself. He’s saying that he saw this monstrous thing with his own eyes and, he’s telling us this so that we might know the truth from an eyewitness so that we might believe.

And here’s what we need to believe–Jesus was dead. Totally and truly dead.

John says, “Don’t believe anyone who says that it was faked. Jesus didn’t just pass out. Jesus didn’t just ‘swoon.’ He died. He was so dead they didn’t break His bones. And blood and water came pouring out of His side. I saw it. Believe me. He was dead.”

That historical fact will be very important when we get to chapter 20!

But, amazingly, just because Jesus is dead doesn’t mean that He isn’t doing anything!

Jesus is so wonderful that even though He was truly dead, He was still accomplishing great things!

Today, I want to point out two and apply them to our lives in 2022.


That’s the point John makes in verses 36 and 37.

“These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced.’”

Here He is dead, and Jesus is still fulfilling holy Scripture.

Just like Psalm 34:20 predicted, the Messiah had no broken bones.

He was just like the Passover Lamb. According to Exodus chapter 12, the Israelites were not to break the legs of the Lamb of the Passover. And guess what Jesus was?!

And Zechariah chapter 12, verse 10 predicted that the guilty, “will look on the one they have pierced.” [That’s quoted again in Revelation chapter 1, verse 7 for a greater fulfillment still yet to come.]

Did these soldiers know what they were doing?

Were they trying to fulfill Scripture?

No. And they probably never realized that they were!

But John could see that the Lord was doing it through Jesus even though He was dead.

John keeps pointing this out again and again in his gospel. God is keeping His promises. God is fulling the Scriptures. Everything that He said was going to happen did.

And not even the death of Jesus would stop it! 

In fact, the death of Jesus just carries it all along to its inevitable fulfillment.

Even though He was dead, Jesus was fulfilling Scripture.

Now, think about that and apply it to your life.

Just how committed is the Lord to fulfilling all of the Scripture?

Do you know what the Scripture says is going to happen?

If not, why not? It is more trustworthy than anything else you could rely on.

What is the weather going to be tomorrow? You reach for your weather app, right? How trustworthy is that? And yet you reach for it.

Have you reached for your Bible to see what is going to happen to the world? To you? What has God promised you? And how sure is that?

Even in His death, Jesus was fulfilling the Scriptures that pointed to His coming and the manner of the death that He would die on our behalf.

Do you see how powerful this Lord is? Someone might say, what kind of power is it that suffers through crucifixion? And I would say, what kind of power is triumphant even through the tragedy of crucifixion? More than that, what kind of power predicts ten hundred years before the fact that a certain man would die a certain way, with no broken bones? What kind of powerful sovereignty is it that makes a promise to a rebellious people that they would see a pierced God and then goes through with the painful reality of it five hundred years later?

This is God, friends. Only God does this.

And He was doing it while Jesus was dead!

And John says he saw this with his very own eyes and has told us so that we also may believe. Do you believe?

What are you counting on?

What are you counting on for your salvation?

So many count on such flimsy things like their own goodness, their own good works, their net worth, their family connections, their denomination. 

What if we counted on something much more powerful that looked powerless?

What if we counted on the fulfillment of Scripture by a dead man?

Remember 1 Peter 3:18? “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

Even though He was pierced and dead, Jesus was bringing you to God. 

“The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.”


Look at verse 38.

“Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away.”

I think this is truly amazing.

The other gospels tell us that Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy man and a member of the ruling class in Israel. He was actually a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Ruling Council, and had disagreed with their verdict in the trial of Jesus.

In fact, he was a disciple of Jesus. He was one of Jesus’ disciples.

But verse 38 says that he was a secret disciple.

Is that a thing? It can’t be for long. A secret disciple is an oxymoron.

Joseph feared his fellow Jews. 

Until Jesus died. And now he steps out into the open and asks Governor Pilate for permission to take the body of Jesus off of the cross.

This is something that the Romans didn’t normally do. Sometimes if a family asked, they would let them have the body for a burial. But often the family would not ask because asking would associate them with the convicted criminal! 

The Jews wanted the bodies down and hidden away. Who knows what they would have done with the body if Joe hadn’t shown up and asked for it. A shallow grave in a ditch somewhere, maybe. Or somewhere His disciples could not gain access.

But here is Joe from Arimathea publicly asking for permission to take the body and bury it himself.

And it’s not just Joe. It’s also Nick. Remember Nick at Night? V.39

“[Joseph] was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night [John chapter 3].” Nicodemus was the man whom Jesus told, “You must be born again.”

“You must be born again.”

And I think he was. But he too was a secret disciple until this moment. He, too, was as leader among the Jews. A teacher!

But he had come in darkness and stayed in the darkness until Jesus was dead.

And now, Nick has stepped into the light and is putting his life at risk to identify with and bury the body of Jesus.

This is bold witness!

Let me ask you:

Are you trying to be a secret disciple?

“Oh, yeah, I follow Jesus, but I never talk about Him.

I follow Jesus, but I never raise the flag. I’m just quiet about it. I don’t make a big deal about it.

I don’t try to get others to follow Him. I’m not a fanatic.

I’m a secret follower of Jesus.”

The people who are getting baptized next Sunday have come to believe that they need to tell the world that they belong to Jesus now.

They are no longer going to be silent or secret.
They are going to be public and visible and audible.

Out of the darkness and into the light.
Out of secret and in the open.

They are going to witness to Jesus as their Lord.

How about you?

This week is a great week to go public.

This is a great week to start a conversation. This is a great week to hand someone a yellow Easter book and offer to get together with them to talk about it.

It’s probably going to get harder in our culture to admit that you follow Jesus. At one time, it was seen as a good thing. And then it was a neutral thing. And in some quarters now it’s a negative thing.

And, to a great extent, Christians have done the damage to our own reputation. Many who have professed faith in Christ have lived lives that did not show the true beauty of Christ and given Him a bad name.

We need to truly follow the true Christ.

But we need to do it publicly and without fear of reprisal. Joe and Nick did it when Jesus was dead!

How much more should you and I do it when we know the rest of the story?!

Even though He was dead, Jesus was inspiring bold witness.

And not just bold witness but bold worship.

Look at what they did for this body. Verse 39 again.

“Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”

That’s a whole lot of spices!

Seventy five pounds! They must have had servants come with them to carry all of that to the burial and help with the body.

That was a weight of perfume that was reserved for royalty. This was an anointing fit for king.

And a King He was! Nicodemus had come to recognize that. Joseph of Arimathea ha come to recognize that.

They recognized King Jesus’ worth.

Their fear of the Jews had turned to faith in Jesus, and they put their money where their faith was and witnessed to and worshipped Him.

Even though He was dead.

Even though they were burying Him.

Notice that they buried Him nearby. Very near where He was crucified.

The garden was very close. The sun was going down. There wasn’t much time until the Sabbath began and the work would cease. 

They had to get Jesus buried. There was a new tomb there. It was probably owned by Joseph of Arimathea himself. The rich would cut these tombs into the side of a rocky hill and put a whole family in there over time. This one was completely empty. Nobody in there yet.

Except Jesus.

Interestingly, this probably also fulfills Scripture, right? Remember Isaiah 53? Prophesied 700 years before Jesus was even born:

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. [Verse 9] He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.”

He was dead then buried in a rich man’s grave.

Near where he was crucified. A very findable spot. Easy to locate. They all knew where Jesus was laid.

That historical fact will be very important when we get to chapter 20.

But we will leave that for next week.

This week, let’s just simply ponder what Jesus could accomplish even while there was no life in His body.

He was still fulfilling Scripture. And that means that nothing can stop the Scripture from being fulfilled. Count on it. Believe.

And He was still inspiring bold witness and worship. Count on it. And join the ranks of public disciples like Joe and Nick.

Having the courage to follow Jesus out in the open in the light, come what may.


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Enjoyed reading your message tonite.