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by Randy White Ministries Sunday, Mar 31, 2024

The Death, Burial, and Resurrection of our Lord

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

The belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fundamental and distinguishing mark of the Christian faith. It is the sine qua non, or the essential condition, of our beliefs. Without this foundational understanding, Christianity as we know it would cease to exist. Therefore, as we delve into this sermon, let us remember the significance of these events and the profound impact they have on our faith.

The Death Of Jesus

The Jewish Motivation

According to Mark 14:53-65, the Jewish leaders were looking for a reason to put Jesus to death. They had already decided on their course of action, but they needed charges to justify it. During the trial before the high priest and the whole Sanhedrin, many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Eventually, the high priest asked Jesus directly, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus responded affirmatively, saying, "I am." His claim to be the Christ, the Messiah, was seen as blasphemy by the religious leaders, providing them with the charges they needed to seek his death. This was a pivotal moment, setting in motion the events that would lead to his crucifixion.

The Roman Explanation

The Roman authorities needed to satisfy the masses and maintain control, but they also needed a veneer of legality for their actions. In Mark 15:1-39, we see how they accomplished this. The Romans focused on the claim that Jesus was the "King of the Jews", a title bestowed by Pilate, with political and revolutionary implications. By focusing on this title, they could argue that Jesus was an insurrectionist, a threat to Roman rule and public order. This gave them the legal justification they needed to sentence him to death by crucifixion. However, it is clear that this charge was more about political expediency than any genuine belief in Jesus' threat to Roman rule.

The Burial of Jesus

Based on Mark 15:40-47, Jesus' burial was carried out by Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Sanhedrin who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. He courageously asked Pilate for Jesus' body. After confirming with the centurion that Jesus was indeed dead, Pilate granted Joseph's request.

Joseph bought fine linen, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn out of a rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the sepulchre. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, observed where he was laid.

This account highlights the reality and confirmation of Jesus' death by providing specific details about his burial. It also underscores the unexpected roles played by individuals like Joseph of Arimathea and the women who observed the burial. This shows that Jesus' influence extended from commoners to the highest echelons of society.

The Resurrection of Jesus

Mark 16:1-14 narrates the account of Jesus's resurrection. On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome visited the tomb early in the morning. They were worried about who would roll away the stone from the tomb's entrance, but on reaching, they found the stone had already been rolled away.

Entering the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The man told them not to be alarmed and announced that Jesus, who was crucified, had risen. He instructed them to tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus was going before them to Galilee and they would see Him there, as He had told them earlier.

They went out and fled from the tomb, for they were trembling and astonished. Initially, they said nothing to anyone because they were afraid. However, after this, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

Afterward, he appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking into the country. These returned and told the rest, but they did not believe them either.

This passage underscores the power and authority of Jesus, who overcame death and rose again. It initially showcases disbelief and astonishment at the resurrection, but eventually, these feelings give way to faith and belief in the miracle of resurrection. The account ends with Jesus appearing to the two disciples, further solidifying the truth of His resurrection.

Why It Matters

The sin of Adam brought about a separation between Adam and his descendants from God. This sin set a precedent, and unless God decided to overlook Adam's punishment (which would be an act of injustice), or devise another means of executing justice, death would be the inevitable outcome for all. From Adam to Moses, death reigned supreme (Romans 5:13-14). From Moses to Paul, a Jewish substitutionary atonement was available through the law, but it was limited in its scope and availability. However, after Paul received the revelation of the mystery, God no longer imputed sin (1 Corinthians 5:17). Instead, God used the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the basis for offering a free gift of eternal life to all who desire to receive it.

Those who receive this free gift of eternal life do so by faith. Faith is not only believing in God's authority to offer such a gift, but also trusting in the assurance that the work of Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection is just and sufficient. This act of faith is not about performing good works or following religious rituals, but about accepting God's grace and believing in the completed work of Jesus Christ. It is faith alone that God requires, and it is faith alone that God accepts. This faith in Jesus Christ's saving work connects us to God, assures us of our salvation, and transforms our lives.

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