The Burial of Jesus
Translated by Allan Liang
When the pandemic raged, our fear was great, we feared death. Now that the pandemic has shown subtle signs of relief, we have been freed from the grips of fear, and having been badly quarantined, we are desperate to gather with our friends, go shopping and return to our workplaces. In our busyness, we cease to give thought to the matter of “death”. However, for every single person, death is a cruel and unavoidable reality. I’ve once heard of a true story. On a plane flight, a passenger died from a sudden heart attack. As the plane was full and was mid-flight, there was no choice but to continue to the destination. The flight attendants were unable to do much, and resorted to fastening the seat belt of the deceased person, securing them to their seat. Let’s think about this, if the one who sat beside us was this deceased person, when directly facing death, would we not immediately lose the desire to watch movies, read books and eat snacks? Death is terrifying and cruel. Yet, to Christians, we are able to be unafraid of death, for our Lord Jesus has already died for us. In today’s Scripture, Jesus’ corpse was taken off the cross and buried in the cold grave. Christians focus more on Jesus’ death and resurrection, but often ignore the importance of Jesus’ burial. Yet when the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, mentioned the contents of the core Christian faith, he especially mentioned Jesus’ burial (1 Corinthians 15:4). The apostle’s creed also did not ignore the truth of Jesus’ burial. Where does the importance of Jesus’ burial lie? Jesus’ burial proves that Jesus indeed died, completely and utterly; he was not removed from the cross in an unconscious state, close to death, he was dead, and dead as dead could be. And he was buried, he truly “descended” to the lowest point. Remember, Jesus did this all entirely for those who truly trusted in him. Because Jesus died in our place, our sins are forgiven, and we have parted from eternal death. Because Jesus was buried, the cold grave, to Christians, has been “made holy”. To us, death and burial are not the punishments brought by sin, and is not the moment in which we lose any chance of salvation, and is not the passageway for us into hell; to Christians, the grave is our place of rest, we have rested from all the toils of the earth, and we have parted eternally from all sin. We wait for the future resurrection. Death to us, is no longer a curse, but a blessing, the passageway into eternal life. And the reason the curse is transformed into a blessing, the coldness into warmth, is due solely to Jesus’ death and burial for us. The lowliness of Jesus’ “descent” and the terrifying, dark reality that he experienced, precisely revealed the depths of his love to us. How can you enjoy the salvation and blessings accomplished by Jesus for sinners? Jesus paid the cost for you, are you willing to truly trust in him and make sacrifices for him? Please pay attention to the word “boldly” in verse 43. Joseph of Arimathea “boldly” asked for Jesus’ body. Why did he have to do so boldly? The Roman government did not permit criminals who were crucified to be buried. Those who were crucified were all heinous criminals. There was no way they would be buried after dying. Yet this man, Joseph, summoned the courage to ask the Roman governor for the body of Jesus. Not only so, Joseph was a member of the Council, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, a member of congress, his open defiance of the Council by asking for the body of one convicted by the Council, would certainly be sufficient to end his political career. Have you followed Jesus, loved Jesus as Joseph did? For Jesus, do you dare to risk everything, and not worry about your own future and fate, caring only about Jesus? Those who have truly experienced Jesus’ sacrifice and laying down of his life, those who truly trust in Jesus, are those who are willing to make sacrifices for Jesus. Brothers and sisters, please pray and meditate: How deeply have you experienced Jesus’ love? Are you truly willing to lay down everything for Jesus, just as Jesus laid down everything for you? Soli Deo Gloria!