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Buried:  A Secret Message

John 19:30-42


Two men went hunting in Canada.  They had a pilot take them to a remote spot. They bagged 6 elk. Pilot says, “We can’t take off with that many -- too heavy. We can only take three.”
One man said, “Last year our pilot had the same kind of plane and allowed us to take 6 elk from here.”
“Okay,” said the pilot. They took off, but soon found they could not ascend above the hills.  They crashed.  All survived.
“Where are we?” the dazed pilot asked the hunters.
One replied, “Wow!  We’re right where we crashed last year!”

Some people make the same mistakes over and over and over!
        So it is that millions of Americans know the events of the cross and Easter, but they annually avoid surrendering their lives to Christ again.

The gospel has three main points:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4
3 ... how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

There is a secret message hidden.

There is a whole lot of teaching about how Christ died in Scripture.

There is much info. about the Resurrection.

But the burial of Christ occupies a lesser space. Even so, keep in mind that it is one third of the Gospel! Although the Bible is not as vocal about the burial of Christ, there is more to it than we might think.
John 12:24
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
His burial in the ground confirmed His death.  And time was of the essence, for there was pressure to remove the bodies from the crosses by nightfall.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23
22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;)

It was Passover, and Jesus died at 3 PM.  His body had to be removed before 6 PM.  And anyone who touched a dead body after that point was considered unclean and unable to partake of Passover.

[read vv. 30-36]

Numbers 9:12
They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.

--explain why they would break the bones [suffocation/asphyxiation]

vv. 34, 37        'pierced'

Remember that it was from Adam's side that God gave him his bride.  And so it was from the side of the last Adam, Jesus, that the Bride of Christ was born from the fountain of His life's blood!

--Passover also initiated the week long feast of Unleavened Bread, in the Midst of which was the Feast of First Fruits (Easter)

Psalm 16:10
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Jewish tradition said that a body became corrupt after the third day! [Lazarus!] Leaven is a picture of that corruption...thus the feast!

Now, consider what an honorable burial Jesus received, even though He was executed as a criminal.

Isaiah 53:9
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death;

vv. 38-42

Now some secret messengers are unearthed!

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were both members of the ruling council, the Sanhedrin…but they were 'secret disciples' of a sort.


If there is any passage of Scripture that should bring about righteous indignation for a follower of Christ, it is the recorded actions of the Sanhedrin just prior to the crucifixion of Jesus. Here we find this elite religious council of seventy looking for false evidence against Jesus to put Him to death. This council went to extremes to humiliate Jesus when they spit in His face and struck Him with their fists. (Matthew 26:59,67)


The council spearheading this awful activity would seem the least likely place to find believers in Jesus. Not only do we find two extraordinary disciples of Jesus among this infamous council, but we find them at the forefront during the most critical three-day juncture of human history!

Irony:  Joseph, who had been a secret believer, went public while the apostles, who were well known believers, became secret, hiding away!

It's a powerful fact that two out of
Israel’s 70 religious leaders, were used of God to bury Jesus.

God covers all the bases, creating a situation here where it becomes impossible to avoid the conclusion that Jesus arose from the dead!

Nicodemus was the one who came to Jesus by night in John 3 - "the master/teacher" -- a highly respected leader.

        This Nicodemus also opposed his fellow council members when he found they were condemning Jesus in a way contrary to the Mosaic Law.

John 7:50-51
50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

These guys were secret disciples.  But no longer.
Ultimately, our faith needs to SURFACE from the underground.  We should not keep it a secret message, buried away.  We shouldn't hide our light under a bushel, but let it shine! 

Joseph went to Pilate to get the body of Jesus
        Pilate probably thought he represented the Sanhedrin in this request.  Then Nic joined him with burial supplies.


Again, consider the drama:  That while these secret disciples were lovingly preparing Jesus' body for burial, Peter was hiding, weeping in shame for denying the Lord.


Also, during this same time-frame, the other members of the Sanhedrin remembered that Jesus prophesied that He would rise again in three days and so they appealed for the guard at the tomb (Matthew 27:62). This motivated them to make their own visit to Pilate to request that the tomb be sealed.  And so Joseph could have bumped into the very Jews he feared, but God ordered his steps!

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary watched and perhaps helped as Joseph and Nicodemus wound up the body with a heavy wrapping of sticky spices (used as adhesive).  What finality those moments must have seemed to have been wrapped in as well!  The Rock of Ages is sealed behind an aging rock.

But the Burial of Jesus is forever remembered now as the prelude to the Resurrection:

Matthew 12:40
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

John 2:19
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

(1) Christ died for OUR sins, (2) He was buried, and (3) He rose again on the third day.

What else was buried when Jesus was buried?  My sins were buried in the deepest sea!

Micah 7:19
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

"Living He loved me, dying He saved me,

BURIED, He carried my sins far away!

Rising He justified, freely forever,

and one day He's coming, O glorious day!

Romans 6:3-4
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.


What happened during the days and hours that Christ was in the tomb?  Some say He went to hell for us.  That is heresy!  He took our hell on the cross, and we'll see in a bit how He paid a visit to OT Hades.  But when He said 'it is finished' on the cross, Hell had been defeated!


"Into thy hands I commend my spirit." [His body went into the tomb, but where did spirit go?  "Dividing asunder of soul and spirit"]

        The believing thief was THAT DAY with Jesus in paradise!  [OT?]

Matthew 12:40
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


It fulfills the type of the two scapegoats.

Leviticus 16:15
Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:

On the cross Jesus blood was shed and applied to the mercy seat of heaven, where God accepted the sacrifice from a Lamb without blemish!

Leviticus 16:21-22
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

The first goat was sacrificed as a sin offering. The second goat received a symbolic transfer of sin and was released in the wilderness. Together, they picture the death of Christ (sacrifice) and the burial of Christ (our sins are carried away).  "Buried He carried my sins far away!"

1 Peter 3:18-19
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
Also note that some hold that the configuration of OT Sheol (Hades) was such that before the Resurrection, it was divided into two compartments, torment for the lost and paradise for the saved, as seen in the Rich Man and Lazarus account in Luke 16:19-31.  When Christ arose, He emptied the paradise compartment, carrying them to heaven.

Ephesians 4:8
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Ephesians 4:9
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

…leaving those in the torment compartment in place until judgment day, when death and hell are cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14-15).


Death was irreversible ... that is, until Jesus Christ reversed it!

He arose!

Let's not allow another Easter season to come and go without being powerfully transformed by the gospel:  the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus!               

                 [Some helps from B. D. B. Moses, Ed Vasicek]



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