Thursday, April 19, 2007



As we close out chapter 23 of Luke and begin chapter 24 we come to the burial and resurrection of Jesus. Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

NOTE Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body in order to give Him a proper burial. This Joseph was apparently a member of the Council of the Sanhedrin. He was a prominent man and a good man. He is also said to be a disciple-a follower of Jesus. So, here was a man Jesus had within the Sanhedrin who had position, but who also stood his ground and objected to their decision to go against Jesus. And, after the decision went wrong, he still had the courage to be a follower of Jesus.

NOTE something else about Joseph here: He was waiting for the kingdom of God. Now Jesus had said over and over that the kingdom is here, near and among you, yet that teaching was quickly going south with the arrest of Jesus and the sentencing of Him to be crucified. Without the King how can there be a Kingdom?

A lot of time and care is taken by the gospel writers about the burial of Jesus. Why do you think so? I believe it's important for it to be established that Jesus really was buried. He really died and He was really buried. Now watch what happens:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Jesus really died. He was really buried. And now Jesus is really resurrected from the dead, because the grave could not hold Him there.

Can you imagine how devastating it was to the followers of Jesus to watch Him die this horrible death of crucifixion? All of their dreams and hopes were shattered. And, even though He told them that He was going to be resurrected, they were not anticipating it. They were too despondent, wallowing in the bad news of it all.

But once they were convinced of His resurrection these same disciples turned into men of passion. They were on a mission to spread the good news and the resurrection was central to this news. If Jesus is not raised from the dead, then there is no good news for victory over death. The death of Jesus was vital to the good news, but the resurrection caps it off and takes us to another level altogether.

The theme of the early followers of Jesus was the resurrection. You see it in the book of Acts and the early letters to the churches. The cross did not become a predominant symbol until the 300's A.D. If a symbol had to be produced for the resurrection, it might have been a rock, as in the rock that was supernaturally rolled away from the tomb at the resurrection.

More than anything else, the death, burial and resurrection brings the message of the possibility of starting over-again-for everybody. The disciples were so blown away on Friday when Jesus died, embodying all of their hopes. It was a day of despair. Then on Saturday the disciples must have moved from the shock of the death to a certain level of depression and disappointment, to the point of giving up. I'm sure there were lots of thoughts and discussions about giving it up and wondering what they might do next. Then, early on Sunday morning the disciples were treated to the shock of their lives. Jesus who died and was really buried, arose from the dead. He came back!

We all have Fridays and Saturdays in our lives, don't we. And wherever you find yourself-at a Friday or a Saturday, because of the resurrection of Jesus, you can count on the hope of getting through your dark times and starting over-again. The resurrection of Jesus means you can start over, no matter what. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even though he dies, shall live." Now that fact is a wonderful thing. However the resurrection is not just a fact to know; it's a person to trust. The resurrection is Jesus. "I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?"