The Burial and Resurrection of Jesus
Imagine what disillusionment, confusion, and anguish the followers of Jesus Christ felt the day their lord and savior died. Not only were they experiencing the loss of a dear friend, but for a time, they too experienced a loss in their faith. God seemed to be so silent. Why was this happening? Was Jesus really God? Faith was being shaken. Now imagine being the son of God, all-powerful and totally capable of getting off that cross. Jesus could have easily decided to rewind the tape, edit the story, freeze the crowd and disappear. He did not because He knew He was on a mission from God to save the world from their sins and bring freedom to men and women cursed by the Fall. (Matt. 26:39, 42) “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”
Jesus was so “in tune” with God that despite His divine power and authority, He submitted his very life to God the Father (Phil. 2: 5-8). The death of Jesus Christ was the ultimate in humility, the ultimate in love, the ultimate in doing what was right no matter what the cost. (Hebrews 2:9) “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
As people travel about the world a common feature on many tours is a great leader’s burial place. Visit Mt. Vernon, the home of President Washington, and you can visit his tomb. Go to Arlington Cemetery and you can visit the tomb of Kennedy. In Salt Lake City you can visit the tomb of the founder of the Mormon church. In Saudi Arabia you can visit the tomb of Mohammed. The Buddha, curiously enough, is buried in 8 different places, his body was divided up among the contenders to be his burial spot. Peter said of King David, “I may say to you confidently of the Patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2:29).
If you visit Jerusalem you can go to at least two separate tombs of Jesus. The reason it is hard to determine his exact tomb is simple. Neither tomb had a body in it. We cannot say where Jesus was buried because He did not stay there. For us, this is good news. Had Jesus stayed in the tomb, we would have no reason for being who we claim to be. All hope would be lost. David stayed in his tomb, but being a prophet, he predicted that Jesus would not! (Psa. 16:8-10; Acts 2:30-31).
Paul simply put it this way, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). The resurrection is the confirmation of everything Jesus claimed for himself. On the cross He paid the penalty for our sins, but the assurance of that transaction is the resurrection. We could say of any dead person “He died for our sins.” But how can we know it is true? It is only in the risen Lord that we have assurance that He indeed has power over sin and death. It is important to our whole faith, to our very standing before God that Jesus is risen. Even as we come to face our own deaths, we need not fear for Christ has gone before us. This is the good news. Christ is risen! And He is not unique in His resurrection. As He is risen, so also shall we be raised from the dead. As He lives, so we shall live forever with Him. “Even death’s cold wave I need not fear, since God through Jordan leadeth me.”
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