Jesus Is Not in the Grave!

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. (Matthew 27:57-61)

“As humans, we have heads, and therefore must be given facts and evidences and arguments in order to make reasonable commitments. And we have hearts with longings and yearnings and hopes and fears and desires. Therefore, if someone urges me to commit myself to a certain goal, he must persuade my head that the goal is really there as he says it is; and he must move my heart to feel the value of attaining it.” -John Piper
From the other Gospels we discover that Joseph of Arimathea was not only wealthy, but also a prominent member of the Council (Mark 15:43). We discover in that same verse that he went boldly to Pilate asking for Jesus’ body. Luke tells us that Joseph was a good and upright man. He also says that Joseph had not consented to the decision and action of the Council to put Jesus to death (Luke 23:50-51). John writes that Joseph was a disciple, a learner, and a follower. He not only listened to Jesus’ instruction, he made it his rule of conduct. Yet he was a follower secretly because of his fear of the Jews (John 19:38). This last fact is interesting in light of the fact that in our verses for today Joseph boldly approaches Pilate, casting his fears aside, asking for Jesus’ body. We act on what we believe to be true. Joseph’s mind and heart had been moved–he was a changed man. His fears were melted by his faith, passion, and purpose. I am reminded of the words of Deuteronomy that could have possibly rung in Joseph’s ears:

Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. (Deuteronomy 6:13)

David had written in the Psalms:

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:8-10)

“The only fear a Christian should entertain is the fear of sin. All other fears are from Satan sent to confuse and weaken us. How often the Lord reiterated to His disciples, ‘Be not afraid!’” -Isobel Kuhn
And so we find Joseph carefully tending the abused body of our Lord Jesus as evening approached. Beaten, bruised, nailed, pierced––this kind man lovingly places Christ’s torn body on clean linen cloth. Such compassion! How carefully he must have handled Jesus’ body. How gently he must have removed His battered corpse from the cross. What a picture of a faithful servant kindly tending to the needs of his Master. I am reminded of Paul’s call to all in Colossians:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

Joseph laid Jesus in his own new tomb. For Jesus, this was a borrowed tomb. On earth, our Lord owned neither house to lay His head while living nor grave to lay His body in dying. He would not need either very long. Christ was buried only to prove His death. He was placed in a borrowed tomb, a tomb cut out of rock and sealed with rock and tightly guarded. There would be no room for suspect that His body could have been taken by His disciples. He was buried to make His death more certain and His resurrection more glorious.

“There must be a practical outworking of our faith here in this present world, or it will never endure in the world to come. We need fewer words and more charitable works; less palaver and more pity; less repetition of creed and more compassion.” -Billy Graham

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
(1 Corinthians 15:53-55)

Take It to Heart

“Who else has the answer to the frailty of life, the reality of death and the certainty of judgment than Jesus, who by His death destroyed him who holds the power of death and frees those whose lives are enslaved by the fear of death?” (Alistair Begg)

Jesus took away the terror of the grave for us. He is no longer in the grave, He has risen. Death is swallowed up in sweet victory.

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