The Burial of Jesus Mt. 27:55 - 66 Pt. 1
Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 27:55–27:66
55Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. 56Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.
62Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ 64“Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” 66And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.
The burial of Jesus compared to the rather high intensity crucifixion and resurrection, is a relatively quiet affair. Our first glance may say, what are we going to learn here? We should move on quickly to the resurrection.
But just beneath the surface here are some wonderful doctrines and lessons for us to understand, rely on, and pattern our lives after. And so we want to pause here, reflectively for a brief time this morning.
55Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. 56Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Women. This is a dangerous topic. One mis step and you're like Mitt Romney. We all have the image in our minds that the political cartoonist drew of Romney holding a notebook binder with women's legs and arms sticking out of it. His infamous "I've got a binder full of women" comment.
I've got a lot less to worry about, because I'm nobody, and I'm not a threat. But still, it's there. The volcano bubbling just beneath the surface. Barely contained. Women do not like to be mis-characterized. It's a tender topic.
You'll be watching TV and the dopey man opens his mouth and the woman says, choose your words wisely. It always gets a laugh, because we all know it's so true.
But with that idea in mind, I want to recognize a model for women laid out for us by example in Matthew's gospel.
First I want to remind you of the dignity that this one holy book gives to women. Compared to all other religions, this book is unique.
We just witnessed a huge womens march in Washington DC within the past month or so. The woman who co-chaired the march, Linda Sarsour, is interesting. She has come out in favor of sharia law. Unbelievable!
The second largest religion in the world, closing in fast on so-called christianity, treats their women like dogs. And it's in their book that way, so why wouldn't they. And the women marching for their rights think sharia law is a good idea!!?? Incredible, the sway that Satan holds over this world that he rules.
In that system, in 2016, women are bought and sold as sex slaves. Slaves to bear children. Or just be used a while and re-sold. Like a dog, or perhaps, less.
The Bible, on the other hand, recognizes that sin reigns in a post fall world. It doesn't paint a rosier picture than what is reality. But, that said, it always always always holds women in dignity that is fully equal to men.
God did not create women in any way, less than a man. Women are created in His image. Just like men. They are a glory to His wisdom and love. In fact it was God's good pleasure that His glory would not be reflected by His creation more or less by either gender. He only made two.
But, but, but, and here's the rub, especially in our modern times; It pleased God to give women different roles to perform for His glory, than men. In the Bible, women are equal, but they have different jobs to perform. Different roles to fulfil, than men. Different roles within equality of being and value.
Our model to follow is the trinity itself. 3 persons equally God, but who do different things. The Son is submissive to the Father. Eternally. He is always co-equal, and always the Son. The Spirit glorifies the Son. Equal to the Son, but the role of the Spirit of God is not to glorify Himself. He glorifies Jesus. Different roles within equality of being and value.
I want to throw out two words for us to consider. Complementarianism. Egalitarianism. This is a cultural volcano right now. And the Bible is on the wrong side of the popular argument, as always. So here goes.
If you study anthropology from ancient cultures to this day, even in a sinful and oppressive world, until very modern times, you will find complementarianism. Men and women living side by side, performing different roles.
Now the problem with that is obvious. Sin reigns in a fallen world, and as a weight class, men are just bigger. So most of that complementarianism has been forced. It isn't pretty. In fact, it's as ugly as sin. Brute force.
Never-the-less, even in a fallen world, the design of God works better than going outside the design of the creator. There has been beauty too. Complementarianism, even in a sinful fallen world, has been the norm throughout history, and is still the norm in most eastern cultures to this day.
Egalitarianism. Egalitarianism says the whole complementarianism idea is just false. It was forced because men are heavier and meaner. But in our modern enlightened times, we know better. Anything a man can do, a woman can probably do better. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Are you waiting for me to argue against that point? I may be crazy but I'm not stupid. In fact I've witnessed it first hand too many times. It's a true statement. Anything a man can do, a woman can probably do too. And often, better.
So, I guess that does it then. Jim is an egalitarian. No. No, and the only reason I am not is that it pleased God to design the woman to be equal, but to perform different roles than men. He did that. Not me. And this book of His is pretty clear. And that will come up often as we work through the different treatises within this book. It's a big topic.
That's our background to this passage and so I'm out on my limb here. Now I'll start sawing. On the tree side, of course. You wouldn't have it any other way.
55Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him.
Jesus had come from Galilee with a company of people. We most often see the 12 disciples. But in concentric rings around Jesus are many other learners, disciples, believers, followers. Less important than the apostles, but they were the core group of believers who, when He had told them to follow Him, they did. Literally.
And this company would have been a cross section of men, women, and the necessary children of all ages.
Remember, the jews were a people who were used to traveling to Jerusalem for the high holy feast days. A large company of worshipping jews would have gone up to jerusalem for the passover feast, with or without Jesus. But these are believers. They have made the trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover; with Jesus
Luke gives us an extended view of this type of travel in caravan.
Lk. 2:41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
So, it is no wonder that there is a group of women at Jerusalem who are witnessing the death of their beloved Jesus. What a horror for these dear ones who loved Him so.
But I want to direct you to one word in that little passage. 55 Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him
While ministering to Him. The word used in the greek is a variation of diakonos. We get our word, still very much in use; deacon. My brother has this gift. He quietly, and mostly thanklessly serves us. All the little unseen necessary mechanical things that keep this building running.
He serves so that we can meet and worship together. A very necessary function for the good of the body and the glory we corporately give to our God.
And that is what this word says these women were doing for Jesus. Collectively, they ministered. We can only imagine, food preparation. Comfort. Who knows what all they figured out to do, and I'm going to guess, not only for Him, but also for the traveling company of saints.
These women made the ministry that Jesus performed, possible in whatever ways they could. Busy, behind the scenes. The root words that make up the single greek word are literally to properly raise up dust. Women who are busy. Taking care of everybody's daily needs as best as possible. Taking care of the children.
I married well. My wife came from a long line of incredibly competent women. I have a picture of her grandmother with the 1917 graduating class of nurses. Getting ready to serve the soldiers in WW-I. Pretty amazing that 2 generations from us spans 100 years. Frightening really!
Pams grandma and her mom both were women who knew how to raise dust getting stuff done. I married into that, and my wife has been a fantastic helper all these years. (although she truly does not like dust)
And the women she surrounds herself with, likewise, are phenomenal in what they can get done. When Pat Woods lived here, I was wise to just get out of the way. Those 2 could get more work done by accident than I ever could on purpose.
Lucky me! But the picture here is more than that. Ministry is possible because of the work these women do. The disciples can follow Jesus and learn how to build His church that we are in successive line to because of these ladies.
They don't worry about the kids. They don't worry about their next meal. Somehow it's all getting done, and the project of Christ and His disciples and His church is undergirded by competent women.
We have some here! I can't do Sunday School. I don't know how to pay the bills and balance the books. I wouldn't know where to begin to put our love feasts together. I can't organize a Catata like we'll revel in on Easter Sunday here. All of it gets done. It frees me up to study and teach in this pulpit, and I am grateful.
Complementarian roles. The apostles can learn from Jesus and ultimately build the church because of the undergirding work of . . . women!
56 Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
A verse of simple recognition. Women whose names are written down for eternity in a book that will span all the ages. Eternity to eternity. It doesn't get any better than that.
Fearless women. The disciples have headed for the hills. Other than John who Jesus presents His mother's care to, the rest are gone. Not the women though. They look on with broken hearts at Jesus, nailed to a cross.
Perhaps we could be bold and say, pinch yourselves. Here we are. Without the ministrations of these very women, we very well might not be here. In their own way, raising dust, they're just as important as the apostles that they undergird.
57When it was evening,
Stop right there for a moment. It's important to think about how time is playing out here under the watchful control of the providence of God.
Think about 2 ways that God intervenes in the affairs of this world.
The first is ovbious. Miracles. God can work outside the natural order of things at any time, for His purposes. He can make a donkey speak to the man who is whipping it because an angel is blocking it's path. He can send a chariot from heaven to pick up Elijah and take him home. Jesus can pick up Malchus' ear and put it back on his head. And the skin where He did that I'm quite sure would be soft and perfect as a babies.
He can send frogs and bugs and boils to torment the egyptians. He can send manna from heaven to feed His people. He can make water in the desert come out of a rock. He can turn a couple of fish and loaves into enough food to feed 20,000 people. Fish that never swam. Loaves of wheat that never grew. He can speak to the wind and make it still.
Those are miracles. Written down for us by reliable witnesses. They happened just as they are written. Take it to the bank.
But God, who owns every molecule and atom in this and all the other universes does not need miracles to accomplish His goals. I think it was R. C. Sproule who said "there are no rogue molecules" Gotta love google. I looked it up. Here's his quote. “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”
Not to worry. There are none. God providentially controls every molecule, every atom. They all do His bidding. Always.
So the doctrine of the providence of God is different than miracles. He doesn't need to go outside of the natural order He created in order to accomplish all of His purposes. He uses His friends, and His enemies both, to accomplish His goals.
A verse came to mind as I studied this. A familiar verse, you've all heard it many times. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Think about those words in relation to this doctrine of providence. We read that and our immediate response is that somehow God is in heaven trying to make our experience a good one, if we love Him.
That isn't what it's saying. What it's saying is; God wins. God wins this deal. Satan has brought sin and chaos and corruption and disorder into the world, but ultimately, God wins. You can take THAT to the bank.
So draw a logical conclusion from that. If we belong to Him; If we are fighting for His purposes and not against Him; if we are His beloved children, on His side of the battle, guess what. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe your aunt edna will indeed die from cancer even though you prayed for her, but at the end of it all, if you are His child, and you are warring against this world on God's side: Winner!
we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
It almost becomes a passive promise. It will be true, because you will be on the side of providence that cannot fail. The part in there about all things working together; that is a description of the providence of God. He makes that happen, for His purpose. But if your purpose is aligned with His purpose: Winner
Now the rest of the creation that is duped by Satan and struggling against God's plan and purpose. Collateral damage. Train wreck. Totally happening just that way. The world that is fighting against the providence of God; will be crushed.
With those thoughts fresh in your mind, lets take a brief look at the rest of the incidents recorded in this little passage about Jesus burial and I think you will see God's providence on display. God working things out to accomplish His goals. He uses friends and enemies to get that done.
So we begin with the words, When it was evening,
Jewish days begin at 6:00 the night before. So this term evening indicates the final 3 hours of their day. 3:00 in the afternoon to us.
Jesus will not spend 3 24 hour days in the grave. He will spend some portion of 3 different jewish calender days in the grave though. It's friday afternoon. 3 hours left to be in the grave a portion of that day.
And John's gospel tells us that the jews are concerned about dead bodies hanging there on their high holy sabbath. The passover feast and all. The jews want this business finished up and out of sight before 3 more hours are accomplished.
So John tells us that the leaders go to Pilate with their concern. Pilate then orders the soldier detachment to break the legs of the men on the cross.
In crucifixion, the agony is that if you can't push up with your legs, you can't get a breath. So breaking their legs causes very rapid final asphyxiation. Then the soldiers will finish the job by thrusting a spear up under the rib cage, into the heart.
Providence. Recall that the prophet said "not a bone of Him shall be broken" I'll read from John 19 how the events work together to accomplish God's ultimate plan, including prophecy written centuries before the events.
Jn 19:31 Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.”
God works out the details of the death of His son. He uses enemies to accomplish the prophecies, written centuries earlier. No bone broken. Jesus is already dead. By His own choice of the very moment. No need to break His legs. But He is pierced, as Isaiah says; for our transgressions.
Every bit of the puzzle is important. All is accomplished. Providentially. Notice again that God uses enemies to accomplish His pre-written history.
And sometimes He uses friends. But even friends, are friends because of providence. God sovereignly calls men and women out of this world to belong to Him. Such is the case of the next act in the theatre of Jesus death.
there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.
John in his gospel tells us about Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Both were rich men. Both were part of the leadership council in Jerusalem. The 70 elders. Both had secretly believed in Jesus.
Joseph takes the lead role here because he owns the nearby tomb hewn out of stone. Important providence because the disciples have fled, and the Romans would throw these men into a common paupers grave. Jesus without the providence of His Father would be buried with robbers and thieves and murderers together.
That is NOT the plan of God. Enter Joseph of Arimathea.
Now then, listen to a prophecy written 700 years before these events this day. Isaiah 53: 8 - 10a
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
God, providentially and sovereignly sends His redeemed friend Joseph to intervene.
58This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.
Just Like That. A profound intervention by God. He uses friends and enemies to accomplish His plans.
I read earlier to you Paul's reiteration of his gospel that he preached everywhere.
1 Corinthians 15: 3 - 5a
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve.…
We give very little importance to the burial of Jesus. And yet it is imperative to the single most important doctrine of our eternal existence with Him in glory. The resurrection from the dead.
The burial makes it real. Jesus had a body like ours. It expired, like ours will. His Spirit departed His flesh and it hung on that cross, dead. Joseph and Nicodemus took that body and prepared it with spices, rolled up in linen like a sort of mummy. A lifeless body was place inside a new tomb. Dead. Jesus died.
He has to be dead in order to rise again from the dead. We skip over that as unimportant, but Paul, carefully, speaks of His burial in his official version of the gospel. Death. Burial. Resurrection from the dead.
61And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.
This is such a simple statement. But it is incredibly profound.
God uses friends and enemies to accomplish His divine purposes. The diciples have fled. The wolf came and the disciples have flown the coupe. Nowhere to be found. Save John who witnesses these things that he later writes. The others have fled.
God has providentially overseen pre-written history. Jesus who was assigned a grave with wicked men, has been buried in a rich man's tomb.
Who knows that? Who will tell His disciples what happened. Where He is? How will the story of the resurrection be told if no one knows where the body has been laid?
And in this little statement that ends this section, we see something that we will see very very often right down through redemptive history and true to this day.
When there's no men around to do something, God uses women to accomplish His purposes. Mary Magdelene and the other Mary, sitting across from the grave. They love Jesus. They are there, taking it all in.
And we'll see next week, if it pleases God for us to meet again, that it's the women who know before anyone else, He Is Risen.
This is a relay race. Christianity, from that day to this, depends on runners who pass a baton. There is an unbroken succession from these ancient people who were present that day, down to us.
And often the baton is carried, by women. We began with them, and we'll end this morning with them.
I attended a conference all of last week. Almost 5,000 men. Shepherds. Deacons, Elders, Pastors. All in ministry at some phase. The Shepherds Conference. www.shepherdsconference.org
The campus of Grace Community Church and The Masters Seminary is completely maxed out. You can barely move during the breaks from place to place. It's a sea of men.
And the conference literature says something like; "We're glad you love your wife, but this conference is only for men. Shepherds. About 4800 of them.
But, Grace Community Church is a phenomenon itself. When this conference happens each year, the members of that church, one thousand one hundred of them this year, take that week off from whatever else they are doing, and come together, highly organised, to serve the men who attend the conference.
And of the 1100 volunteers, there are some men, but I'm going to stick my neck out and say about 80 - 85% of the volunteers helping make things happen, are women.
So, when the doors swing open after one of the teaching sessions and the breezeways and patios are filled, there are dozens of tables set up, with refreshments of any kind you can imagine, and the women serve, serve, serve.
Ella, who put fresh cut carrots and tomatoes on my plate every day, is 86. And there is everything in between down to junior high school girls running here and there. You'll be standing in line to get your free lunch from Stonefire Grill, or In and Out burger, thay all bring trucks to the campus and put massive lunches on. All free. And a lady who is a volunteer will be going down the line asking if you need some sun screen. Or some teenage girls will be pushing a cart full of icy cold water bottles.
It's an amazing sight, and having been to other conferences, other places, there is no where else like it. A church that takes ministerial service to others seriously, and it gets organized and happens like a well oiled machine.
Other conferences, you break and find a stadium pop machine and put 2 bucks in for a soda. Here, your coffee or soda, or water, along with a plate of fresh veggies and some crackers and cheeses is free, and the folks are standing in line to serve you.
I discovered that each morning, at a certain place and time, biscuits and gravy would appear. Tough choice, because the other tables likely will have some Crispy Creme donuts.
Add all that to teaching by the leading men that God presently has on earth at this one moment in time, and I am a fly on the wall, just incredibly happy to even be there taking it all in.
Women, largely, make most of the heavy lifting happen, so we can sit and soak in the best teaching on earth. It's a banquet feast, and last night I already paid my space for next year. You almost need to see it to believe it.
More in The Gospel of Matthew
March 26, 2017The Authority and Commission of Jesus Mt. 28:16 - 20
March 19, 2017Jesus IS Alive! The Tomb is Empty Mt. 28: 1 - 15
March 12, 2017The Burial of Jesus Mt. 27:55 - 66 pt. 2