Matthew 28 - The Burial and Resurrection of Jesus

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Turn in you Bibles to Matthew 27:57

 

57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.

62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate,63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night[m] and steal Him away,and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door,[a] and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell His disciples,[b] behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[d]

 

May God bless the reading of His word.

 

Let us pray.

 

In the previous verses we saw how Jesus endured death in order that God's requirement for of death as the penalty for sin could be fulfilled.

 

According to Matthew, Jesus gave up His spirit some time after the 9th hour which translates to 3PM. None of the synoptic gospels give us any more insight into the circumstances around the moments after Jesus dies on the cross. However, John in 19:31-37 tells us;

 

31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and 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 may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.”[f] 37 And again another Scripture says,“They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”[g]

 

John's remarks not only tell us more about Jesus' death, but they also give us some very detailed information about when Jesus was crucified.

 

John tells us first that it was the Preparation Day, the day before the Sabbath, but not just any Sabbath, this is a high day, Passover. What cannot be lost upon us as we consider the death and resurrection of our Lord is that, in parallel with His ordeal the feast of Passover, and the rituals surrounding it are being acted out. In fact, from His triumphal entry coming through the Eastern gate on the same day as the Paschal lambs, to His death on the cross on the same day as the slaughter of the those Lambs, Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy which the Passover rituals have portended for so long. Jesus is literally the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world.

 

The parallels continue as we consider what John tells us about the Jews request that the bodies not be left on the cross. John tells us that the Jews asked that those being crucified have their legs broken in order that they might be taken away. What would have been obvious to a first century reader, may not be as obvious to us. Breaking the legs caused the crucified to die within hours instead of days.

 

However, when we keep in mind the law surrounding the Paschal Lamb and Jesus' fulfillment of that prophecy it is imperative that Jesus not suffer any broken bones. In Exodus 12:46 is recorded God's commandment that; “46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.”

 

So, if Jesus were to be alive, like the other two being crucified, He would have had to have His bones broken to expedite the process, but that would have been in violation of God's rules concerning the Paschal lamb.

 

This is why it is so important that;

 

“when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”

 

And as a testimony to the fact that Jesus was indeed dead, we are also given the account in the next sentence, which tells us;

 

But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.

 

This water, mixed with blood is not just an idle detail. It actually is a visual validation that Jesus' heart had burst and that He was dead, even as the guards had ascertained.

 

In trying to discredit the Gospels, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, many detractors have tried to say that Jesus was not dead on the cross, that He was drugged, or that He feigned death, and that this explains His supposed resurrection. John's testimony is meant to purposefully and completely discredit such speculation. Before we get back to Matthew's account, let us look at why it is that John is able to give us the detail that he does, when the other gospels do not. John himself gives us the answer telling us;

 

And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.

 

John was there, at the foot of the cross, with Mary the mother of Jesus and many of the women followers of our Lord. John tells us in 19:25-27;

 

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

 

This is how John is able to give us more detail into the events that transpired than the other gospel writers.

 

So clearly, Jesus has died in a matter of hours where it would usually take a man three days. His death is confirmed by the Romans who do not bother to break His legs, but who make sure of their diagnosis by piercing our Lord's side.

 

And so God's Lamb is slain, in order that His blood might accomplish that which the blood of Paschal lambs over the centuries only hinted at. For Jesus' blood truly covers the sins of the redeemed and shelters them from death itself.

 

Which brings us to the verses which we opened with. Matthew tells us;

 

57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.

 

Keep in mind that this all happens on the Day of Preparation, but also remember that unlike the tradition in our country, that days do not begin and end with sunrise in the Hebrew tradition, but with sunset. So Jesus is buried on Friday before sunset, which is the first day of His internment in the grave.

 

Thus, when we read in the next paragraph;

 

62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate,63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night[m] and steal Him away,and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

 

This very likely occurs on Friday night, which would have been the “next day” in the Hebrew culture. We can hardly believe that the priests would have allowed Jesus' tomb to go unguarded for very long, let alone overnight.

 

Pilate consents to the request telling them;

 

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

 

Pilate's words here imply that he gave the chief priests a Roman guard. This is significant because of the committed nature of the Roman soldier and the rules surrounding their duties. We have to remember that the Roman soldier had conquered the civilized world. They were relentless, disciplined and well trained. The fact that the guard at Jesus' tomb was a Roman one, helps us to understand that there would be no messing around, no sleeping on the job, and no bribery.

 

Also notice that the tomb was sealed to indicate if any one had tampered with the stone.

 

The guard would have been posted on that Friday night, which to the Jewish way of thinking was the beginning of Saturday, through all of Saturday and into Sunday morning. Matthew tells us:

 

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door,[a] and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

 

So, just to be clear, Christ was buried before sunset on Friday, which was the first day. Lay in the tomb Friday night to Saturday night which is the second day, and rose from the tomb Sunday, the first day of the week, early in the morning, which is the third day. Remembering that the Jewish day begins at sunset helps us to see how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of His rising on the third day according to Scriptures.

 

What's more than that, those hardened Roman soldiers are so overwhelmed by the earthquake and the appearance of an angel that they shake with fear and become like dead men.

 

The appearance of this angel must have been something for these soldiers to be frightened to death. They are literally passed out and unable to do anything as the rest of the events of the tomb unfold.

 

If the death of Jesus warranted an earthquake, His resurrection does as well. Remember, for the first and only time in the history of mankind, a Man has escaped the permanent grip of death. And while the death of our Lord on the cross meets the sacrificial requirement of God, it is the resurrection of Jesus that testifies to the worthiness of His sacrifice.

 

You see, if Jesus had remained in the grave, then His death would have been the same as that of any other man. But because He rose on the third day, we can be certain that His sacrifice was sufficient and that He is indeed He Whom He says He is, the Messiah, God Incarnate.

 

As news spreads amongst the disciples, Matthew also relates what is happening on the other side. He tells us;

 

11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

 

So, even as it becomes evident that Jesus has risen after three days, even as He said He would, the enemy is already going on concocting stories to hide the truth of Jesus' resurrection. The gravity of what is being done here is hard to understand. The Roman soldiers knew that professing to fall asleep while on guard duty would normally result in immediate death. However, we can be certain that the bribe was large enough and high enough that nobody suffered as a result of this lie.

 

That being said, it should still cause us to wonder why the chief priests and the elders chose to bribe the guards and continue a lie instead of fall down at Jesus' feet and worship Him as the Messiah that His resurrection proved He was.

 

The truth is one which we have espoused so many times before. The religion of the Pharisees and the Saducees was not based on a relationship with the One True God. Instead, it was a false religion which took on the trappings of those rites and rituals prescribed by God in the desert to His people but which was perverted to become a means of exerting power and control over the people by men.

 

The religious “establishment” is never going to kneel to Jesus, nor concede that they have either willingly or unwillingly deceived the masses.

 

They want the status quo, and that does not include the radical teachings of Jesus, even if He did fulfill the prophecies concerning the Son of God and rose from the dead because death could not hold Him.

 

But God already knew this, which is why His Son does not go to the temple and seek the obedience of the enemy, no, that will come later. For now, Jesus is content to meet with that core of followers who the Father has given to Him and give them those marching orders which we refer to as the Great Commission.

 

While it was spoken to those 11 disciples on the mountain, it is still considered to be the calling of all those who call Jesus Lord. Jesus tells His disciples;

 

 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

 

We'll come back to this great commission next week, to look at it in depth and to see how to apply it to our lives, and how it needs to be the core of our Christian walk. But for now, if you call Jesus Lord, let us focus on the events leading to this Great Commission.

 

First, we need to see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy that was reenacted every year by the Jewish people for centuries, the promise of a Sacrifice Whose blood would be sufficient for the remission of the sins of all those to whom it was applied.

 

As the blood on the doorposts kept the angel of death from taking the first born of the Israelites, so the blood of Jesus spares those to whom it is applied from the penalty of sin.

 

Second we can see that even when Jesus was dead, He continued to fulfill prophecy. His bones were not broken and His side was pierced even after He had given up His spirit.

 

This fulfillment of Scripture continued by His laying in the tomb for three days, even as the Scriptures and He Himself said He would.

 

Third we need to understand that, while there is a religious community, we must be wary and understand that much of what passes for religion is really just the machinations of men who seek power and control. Jesus did not validate this community, either in His life or after His resurrection. Those who truly serve Jesus, serve Him only. Christianity is not about organized religion, it is about a relationship with our risen Savior. Our formation of churches and our support of each other as members of the body of Christ is just that, it is the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven which Jesus has preached about throughout the book of Matthew.

 

We take our marching orders from Jesus, and He has given those to us quite clearly.

 

Anything else that we do in the name of Jesus, except those things which He taught His disciples, is chaff and we need to be extremely careful to keep it out of our relationship with our Lord.

 

As a wise man once said, Jesus plus anything else, is heresy.

 

Jesus alone is all we need.

 

And if you have never confessed Jesus as Lord, I beg you to consider the truth, a truth that is so offensive to the enemy that they have tried from the outset to deny that it ever happened.

 

You see, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof of the veracity of His claims.

 

The chief priests and elders knew this, and they knew that if Jesus were to rise again their religious power would be broken.

 

The fact that Jesus lived is not disputed by historians.

 

The fact that He was crucified is not denied.

 

And try as they might, the fact of the resurrection is also well documented. Jesus was seen at the tomb, then by His disciples and then finally by more than 500 people at one time.

 

Death could not hold Him.

 

You cannot visit His tomb, because He lives.

 

Won't you cry out to Him to make this truth real to you, to give you the faith to believe it and then to confess Him as Lord?

 

Let us pray.

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