MPGC23- DEATH AND BURIAL
By Colleen Donahue

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With a great shout Jesus said his final words. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus died with a great shout upon his lips (Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, and Luke 23:46) but it's John that tells us what this shout was. (John 19:30)

Jesus isn't crying, "I can't take it anymore" , in resigned acceptance. He is giving a shout of triumph! He has finished his work and He's going home.

These last three words are so significant that they must be a study on their own. Because the words "It is finished" beg from us the question "What was finished?" it will be the topic of Part 2 of this course called Man's Problem and God's Cure. But before we begin Part 2 we need to walk through the Lord's death and burial and finally with Him in Resurrection.

Death and Burial -- The Appearance of the End

 

Day 1- In submission Jesus had committed Himself to God. His death was His own choosing and by faith He is the victor.
John 10: 17-18

Day 2- At the moment that Jesus breathed His last, what events occurred?
Matthew 27:51-53 / (Also: Mark 15:38)

The events recorded were so startling that fear gripped the centurion and those with him watching over Jesus and his death. What did they say in their terror?
Matthew 27:54

Notice that both Matthew and Mark record that the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. This event was so significant that we must not miss the importance.

THE WAY OPENED FOR ALL

The great temple in Jerusalem had several divisions. Surrounding the temple and all its courts was a large flat area where both Jews and Gentiles could go. It was called The Court of the Gentiles. A wall was built called the Soreg that formed a barrier to the rest of the temple. No Gentile could pass from the Court of the Gentiles beyond the Soreg or they would be under penalty of death.

Once inside the Soreg there were various courts for different groups of Jews to go. There was a women's court, a court for men and boys, a leper's court, a Nazarite's court and a court for the priests.

From the priest's court, steps rose almost ten feet to the sanctuary. Once inside the sanctuary there were two major areas. The first area was the Holy Place and it was where the priests performed their regular duties. The second area was called the Holy of Holies and was at the very inner heart of the temple. It could only be entered once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, when he offered a sacrifice to cover the sins of the people for another year.

Dividing the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies were two massive hanging tapestries, one cubit apart. The whole temple structure was a continual object lesson of the holiness of God and his separation from sinners.

At the time of Christ's death the priests were back at the temple for evening sacrifice -- the time for a lamb to be slain. They probably felt the earth quake but when an unseen hand tore the heavy tapestry curtains from top to bottom no doubt everything stopped. The most sacred place in all the world was exposed to all men.

Day 3- The way into the Holy of Holies (or the way to God himself) is now open for all men.
Hebrews 10:19-22

Day 4- Class distinctions between Jews and Gentiles are now gone.
Romans 10:12

Class distinctions between men and women are gone.
Galatians 3:28

Class distinctions between priests and laymen are gone.
Revelation 1:6

IN CHRIST all class distinctions are obliterated and all can approach God.

THE ALL SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE

Day 5- In Old Testament times the word atonement (meaning God and sinners are brought into relationship where they are one) was from the Hebrew Kippur meaning "covering". The Day of Atonement was a "day of covering". The sins of the people were covered for one year. The animal sacrifices brought no permanent solution.
Hebrews 10:3-4

Notice the wording. The blood of animals were powerless "to take sins away." They only covered them.

Day 6- The New Testament picture of atonement (or more commonly called reconciliation today) is totally different. What was Christ able to do that animal sacrifices could not?
Hebrews 9:24-26, 28 (note especially verses 26 and 28)

This corresponds to how John the Baptist introduced Jesus as he was ready to begin his ministry.
John 1:29

Day 7- From now on Jesus would be our priest and advocate before God in Heaven. An end had come to all sacrifice and offering for sin. As you read these two verses what is the common phrase used in them both?
Hebrews 9:12 / Hebrews 10:10

Once and for all time Jesus, through his shed blood on the cross secured our salvation.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF DEATH

Day 8- Perhaps even more amazing was an event occurring at the same time as the earthquake, and torn temple curtain.
Matthew 27:52-53

Day 9- The fact that Jesus would be the conqueror of death had clearly been foretold.
Isaiah 25:8

Day 10- And now just prior to His own resurrection He was starting to call men out of death's domain just as he had prophesied would happen.
John 5: 28-29

Day 11- In the end, the Lord will destroy our last enemy.
1 Corinthians 15: 25-26

BURIAL

Day 12- It would have been a comfort to Jesus during his agony to have had one or two voices speaking out for him but they were afraid. Yet, no sooner had Christ died, fear was tossed aside and two men stepped forward for all the world to see. The first man was Joseph of Arimathea. From these verses list what we know about this man. Each gospel writer adds to the picture.
Matthew 27: 57-60 / Mark 15: 42-46 / Luke 23: 50-53

Day 13- The second man was Nicodemus. List what we know about this man.
John 3: 1-4, 9-10 / John 7:50-52

Day 14- Together these two men gave Jesus the gift of a decent burial which the poor disciples would have been unable to give him.
John 19: 38-42

They had saved Jesus' body from being consigned to a burial ground for criminals.

While the disciples feared to show themselves openly as his followers these two men now came boldly forward. No doubt their wealth and influence protected them from the malice of the priests and rulers.

Day 15- The women watched over the lifeless body of their Lord. They were the last at the cross and now last at the tomb.
Matthew 27:61 / Mark 15:47 / Luke 23:55

Finally they had to leave because it was the Sabbath.
Luke 23:56

A STRANGE SABBOTH

This Sabbath was to be one that would never be forgotten. We can only imagine that it was filled with conflicting feelings. All activity was going on as usual yet a sense of strangeness pervaded it. People had flooded in from the city and the country to find Jesus to heal their loved ones only to find that their leaders had condemned him to death. Those that had witnessed his death and been part of the crowd calling for it now were filled with remorse as the events of the day came flooding back in. Had they done right?

No doubt sleepless eyes had been searching the prophecies to see if they could make sense of the recent events. And most strange of all was that the mysterious Holy of Holies was now open to all eyes. God's sacred chamber lay open to all and it was a place no longer recognized by the Lord. Without Christ it was as if a great light had gone out of the world. Indeed for the disciples it had. With His death their hope had gone. They were filled with fear and the future seemed dark with despair.

The revenge of the priests was already a bitterness to them as the people learned what they had done to Jesus. They were experiencing the severe censure of the people.

Day 16- While Jesus was now at rest, His work finished and all of Heaven rejoicing, the world He left was in turmoil. Fear, uneasiness, shame and sadness spread through the people like a disease. Even the priests and rulers who had gotten their way were restless and uneasy. If they had been jealous of Christ's influence while he was alive they suddenly feared even more what his influence might be in death. These men who made their living to know the scriptures now feared that a particular prophecy might be about to happen. What were they afraid of?
John 2:19 / Matthew 20: 18-19

Day 17- Like their father, the devil, they believed and trembled. Despite it being the Sabbath they held a council concerning the body of Jesus. In agreement what did they do the next day?
Matthew 27: 62-66

To make the tomb secure they would have ordered cords securing the stone to the solid rock and then sealed it with the Roman seal. A guard of soldiers would have been stationed not only at the tomb but all around the area to prevent any tampering.

And so the very efforts of the priests to prevent Jesus from rising became the most convincing arguments in its proof. All of man's great plans to keep down a risen Lord failed. Anyone trying to put restraints on Jesus Christ is on a hopeless mission.

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