Mark 15:37-47 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” 40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
The events surrounding the burial of Jesus of Nazareth are extremely important. In order for anyone today to believe in faith in a God-man dying for their sins over 2,000 years ago it better be true and not some fable or made up story. And so the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible) not only provide great details describing the crucifixion of Jesus but also His burial and resurrection. There had to be witnesses to Jesus’ death, there had to be witnesses to Jesus’ burial, there had to be witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and there had to be witnesses to Jesus’ ascension into heaven where He is right now. Without witnesses and the supporting miracles and the fulfilled prophecies and the events surrounding Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension why would anyone believe the Gospel?
This is where a person must see the need to examine these events in detail. People have been dying throughout all of human history. Usually the only people who have any real interest in the death of any individual person are the immediate family and friends who know the deceased personally. The average person is long forgotten after their death and it is only those who have left their greater imprints upon mankind as a whole that anyone in the future cares to look back upon. Even among the “great” men and women of human history, typically their significance fades in time. Anyone who desires to live for the glory of man will be sorely disappointed even if they somehow achieve human greatness. The only wise person lives for eternal life.
So what motivates a person to look in depth at the events surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension? For some it might just be idle curiosity. But ultimately for anyone who becomes a born again Christian, Scripture is clear that it is the Law of God that produces a knowledge of sin (and conviction of sin) that motivates a person to examine the life of the sin bearer Jesus Christ in detail and especially the events surrounding His death and resurrection.
Romans 3:20 through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Without a real and personal need to be set free from sin, the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus are meaningless and unimportant. But when a person is under conviction of sin these details are seen as significant and there is a longing to understand what truly happened in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. Did Jesus really die for my sins? Did He really rise from the dead? All of the small details associated with Jesus’ death are important as they are proof that this is indeed true and not fiction. The Christian does not believe with blind faith.
The female followers of Jesus are very important in helping us to believe that Jesus of Nazareth did die on the Friday and then rise from the dead on the Sunday (the Lord’s Day). Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome all were witnesses of Jesus’ death upon the cross as they watched from a distance. Most of the disciples were not present. These same women also saw where Jesus was buried and then later would see Jesus in His resurrected body. Their witness of all these events help us to believe that it is true.
The fact that Joseph of Arimathea risked everything in going to the Roman Governor Pilate and asking for the body of Jesus is very important. By Jesus being buried in a rich man’s tomb that was sealed with a stone and that was even guarded (Matthew 27:62-66) meant that there was no way that somehow Jesus’ body could be removed or tampered with. We can believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ in part because there are no loopholes by which some type of deception and trickery could have been performed. Jesus died and was buried and then rose again. This is a historical fact.
There is another aspect to Jesus’ death that is significant as recorded here in the book of Mark. In verse 44 we read that Pilate was surprised to hear that He should have already died. Jesus did not die as a superhero. In fact he died much quicker than what was typical for anyone crucified. It could take days for someone crucified to die but Jesus died within six hours. This in and of itself shows that something greater was happening as Jesus died upon the cross. As He bore the sin of mankind and the wrath of God the Father was poured out upon Him, this punishment that He endured led to a quickened death. None of us can comprehend the suffering that He endured that is infinitely beyond the physical suffering of crucifixion. Again, this was all according to God’s perfect plan. Jesus had to die swiftly in order for Him to be buried before Friday evening when the Sabbath would begin and no work was allowed to be performed. The very fact that Jesus died on a Friday showed the utter hatred and urgency of the religious leaders among the Jews in having Jesus killed. Jesus was arrested on Thursday night. The religious leaders needed to act while the iron was hot. Instead of waiting until Sunday to take their case to Pilate to persuade him to kill Jesus, they acted immediately thus forcing the other two men who were crucified to have their legs broken to accelerate their death before the beginning of the Sabbath (John 19:31-37). But Jesus was already dead. This fulfilled what had been prophesied thousands of years earlier when God gave the institution of the Passover Meal to Moses in Egypt (Exodus 12:46). He was the perfect sacrifice. Do you believe this? Do you know that Jesus died for you and that you can have new life in Him?
Pastor Murray Hack
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