Sermon #74 Mark Sermons
Title: THE SAVIOR’S BURIAL
Text: Mark 15:39-47
Subject: Christ’s Burial
Date: Sunday Morning - February 21, 1999
Tape # V-13a
Reading: Philippians 2:1-16
The death of the Lord Jesus Christ as the sinners’ Substitute, to put away the sins of his people, is the greatest and the most important event in history. The sin-atoning sacrifice of the God-man, the only Mediator between God and men, is the most important fact of Christianity.
All the hopes of fallen men hang upon this one event. If what the Scriptures say about the death of God’s Son is so, then there is hope for sinners. If these things are not so, there is no hope for anyone.
Knowing something of the importance of this fact, we should not be surprised to find that the fact of our Savior’s death is placed beyond the realm of dispute by God’s wise and good providence. The Jews of our Lord’s time, and countless scoffers since then, have tried to explain away the fact of our Lord’s resurrection by asserting that he never really died at all. They would have us believe that he really just passed out, and everyone thought he was dead. What folly!
The title of my message today is THE SAVIOR’S BURIAL. In the verses we have just read, we see that God wisely arranged three kinds of witnesses to verify the fact of Christ’s death.
1. The Roman Centurion who Stood Near The Cross.
2. The Women who Followed the Lord From Galilee to Jerusalem.
3. The Disciples who Buried His Dead Body.
The united witness of these three groups of people place the matter beyond any dispute. They could not all have been deceived.
All of these groups of people saw the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the ordeal of his mock trial and crucifixion. They saw him lay down his life by the triumphant act of his own sovereign will, as he became obedient unto death for the salvation of our souls.
Proposition: The Lord Jesus Christ, our incarnate God and Savior, actually died for our sins under the wrath of God and was buried in the earth
Divisions: As we look at this last paragraph of Mark 15 this morning, I want to direct your attention to…
1. The Amazed Centurion (v. 39).
2. The Faithful Women (vv. 40-41, 47).
3. The Secret Disciple (vv. 42-46).
4. The Honored Tomb (v. 46).
I. THE AMAZED CENTURION (v. 39)
This centurion was the Roman soldier who was the head of a band of soldiers, whose task it was to watch the crucified Son of God, to make sure no one took him down from the cross or gave him any comfort. Matthew tells us that there were others with him “watching Jesus.”
These men were united in their hellish mockery of, humiliation of, and tormenting of the Lord Jesus. They had all watched the mock trial before Pilate. They had all mocked him, spit in his face, beat him, and tortured him. They had all nailed him to the tree. They all observed his royal behavior. They all saw the three hours of darkness. They all heard and felt the earthquake and the opening of the graves. They all heard the Master’s seven statements as he suffered the wrath of God as our Substitute. And they were all terrified and confessed - “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
This centurion and his company, and the things here recorded about them are intended to teach us two things.
A. The centurion was placed as he was by God’s providence to verify to Pilate and to all reasonable people the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ actually did die at Calvary (vv 44-45).
When this man was called to Pilate to verify the fact that the Lord Jesus was indeed dead, I can almost hear his trembling report.
· I heard him cry with a loud voice - “Father, forgive them!” - “My God, my God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” - “Today, thou shalt be with me…” - “It is finished!” - “Father, into thy hands I commit my Spirit.”
· I watched him do what I never saw any other man do. - He breathed out his own life!
· When we came to break his legs, as you ordered us, he was already dead.
· Just to make sure, one of my men shoved his spear through his heart; and the strangest thing happened - Water mixed with blood came gushing out of his side.
· Yes, I would say the man is dead.
When he got done, the Scripture tells us here that Pilate “knew it!”
B. This centurion also shows us a demonstration of the fact that there is a repentance to be repented of.
This man was convicted; but his conviction was a mere legal conviction. He had repentance, sorrow for his deeds; but it was the sorrow of the world which ends up in death, eternal death in hell.
This is what I want you to see - Legal fear, the fear of death, judgment, and eternal damnation in hell, is not repentance. That is not Holy Spirit conviction. True repentance, true conviction is more than a sense of guilt and terror. It is a sorrow for sin, taking sides with God against yourself, an acknowledgment that you deserve to go to hell; but it is more, much, much more…
True repentance arises from the revelation of Christ in our hearts. It is the blessed persuasion of sins forgiven, righteousness established, and judgment finished (Zech. 12:10; John 16:8-11). There is no salvation without this conviction.
II. THE FAITHFUL WOMEN (vv. 40-41, 47)
Where was Peter, who boasted that he was willing to go with his Master to judgment and to death? Where were the other disciples who all said the same thing? The men, all of them, except for John (who was at some distance from the scene) were all gone. But these faithful women were faithful to the end! They had followed the Lord Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. When all others forsook him, they stayed with him. They stayed during all the horrors of that infamous day. They followed him right up to the tomb, and were found there on the morning of the resurrection.
God often uses the weak to confound the mighty. How often we see this in the workings of God’s providence and grace. Here, the Holy Spirit tells us two things about this band of faithful women. In these two things, they are set before us as noble examples of faith.
A. They followed the Lord.
Having been converted by his grace and power, believing his word, understanding his doctrine, having experienced his great forgiveness, these women followed the Savior.
1. That is what faith does. - It follows Christ!
2. Those who are forgiven much love much!
B. They ministered to the Son of God.
These dear ladies were not at all like the feminists of our day. These women were ladies. They knew their place and kept to it with joy.
1. They were not allowed to be teachers and preachers in the Lord’s church and kingdom. That is strictly forbidden in Holy Scripture.
2. But these women were faithful servants of Christ to the end.
There is a great work which women can do for the glory of God and the cause of Christ in this world. Happy is that husband and family in which such a wife and mother is found. Happy is that church whose women know their work and faithfully do it, as unto the Lord.
Elizabeth, Martha Mary, Dorcas, Lydia, and Phoebe are all held before us in the Word of God as elect ladies, in whom the grace of God abounded, causing them to gladly serve the Master, by serving his people.
III. THE SECRET DISCIPLE (vv. 42-46)
I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit has placed in the records of sacred history the name and works of Joseph of Arimathaea. We know virtually nothing about him except these five things.
· He was a rich man.
· He was from Arimathaea.
· He was a member of the counsel - The Sanhedrim.
· He buried the Lord Jesus in his tomb.
· He was a believer, one who “waited for the kingdom of God.” - A secret disciple, but a true disciple (John 19:38).
We know nothing about him until now; and nothing else is said about him in the Word of God after this. But this man was the man of the hour. He was where he needed to be, when he was needed, to do what was needed. Much could and should be said about this man, but I want to show you just three things here.
A. God always raises up men to do what is needed at the time needed.
None of the other disciples were around to do what Joseph did. Perhaps no one else could have gotten Pilate’s ear so readily as Joseph. But at the time needed, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled (Isa. 53:9), God raised up a rich man to bury the body of his darling Son in his own new tomb.
1. The purpose of God is never in danger of failure.
2. The will of God is never hindered.
3. The work of God is never overturned.
4. The cause of God is never in jeopardy.
B. The Lord God always has many more disciples than any of us ever imagine.
I am the first to acknowledge that secret disciples are always suspect disciples. But we must never forget the words of the Lord to Elijah - (1 Kings 19:18). Our God still has his seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed the knee to Baal. At the appropriate time, he will bring them out. The Lord still has many hidden ones in the earth. We do not know who they are, or where they are; but he does.
Much might be said about this man’s failures, weaknesses, and so forth; but Joseph’s faith was in many ways most remarkable.
1. He was strong, when all others were weak.
2. He was bold when everyone else was terrified.
3. The other disciples honored and confessed Christ when he was working miracles and influencing multitudes. - Joseph believed him, honored him, and identified himself with him when his body was a cold, dead corpse, covered with his own blood and the spit of others.
C. Joseph wrapped the Lord’s body in fine linen.
1. This fine linen was an emblem of or Savior’s own holiness and purity.
2. This linen is set before us in the Scriptures as an emblem of Christ’s pure, spotless righteousness, which is imputed to his people (Rev. 19:8).
IV. THE HONORED TOMB (v. 46)
The Lord Jesus was numbered with the transgressors. Yet, he made his grave with the rich, exactly as the Scriptures had foretold. He is the Savior of all, both rich and poor. But the fact that his dead body was laid in the tomb must not be passed over lightly. Our Lord Jesus here puts special honor upon the grave.
The fact is, we are all going to the tomb. We do not like to think about it; but we are all going to die, sooner or later. The time will soon come when someone will put our bodies in a coffin, drop us in the cold earth, and cover us out of view. But, let us remember, this is the place where our Lord once laid. And, as surely as he arose from the tomb, so to shall all who trust him.
A. When Christ died, I died with him.
B. When he was buried, I was buried with him.
C. When he arose, I arose with him.
Consequently, death has no terror. The grave has no sting. As I have confessed in my baptism, I am confident that, though the worms of the earth shall eat my flesh, yet, at the resurrection, in my flesh I shall see my God and my Redeemer.
Illustration: The Robin’s Nest