“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write to the Corinthian church that the most important part of the gospel message in which Christians stand and by which they are saved is the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was then resurrected on the third day. During this weekend many focus on Christ’s death during the religious holiday of Good Friday, and many consider the holiday of Easter which commemorates His resurrection to be the most important holy day of the year. In all the observance of Christ’s death and resurrection, His burial typically receives little attention.
Yet Jesus cared enough about His burial to talk about it (Matthew 12:40; Mark 14:8). In its own way, the burial of the Christ is just as important as His death and resurrection.
After He had died along with the two thieves on either side of Him, the soldiers would have removed His body from the cross and likely thrown it into a pit with the robbers if not for a rich member of the Jewish High Council named Joseph from the town of Arimathea. Joseph, along with another Council member named Nicodemus to whom Jesus had once spoken the famous, often quoted verse of John 3:16, was a disciple of Christ in secret because he feared what his fellow Jewish leaders would do to him if he publicly confessed his faith in the Nazarene. These men now found the courage to risk their careers and reputations by claiming the body of Christ.
They removed the body from the cross and took it to a nearby tomb belonging to Joseph which had before been used. There they washed the body, removing the blood, spit and splinters from the cross. They then wrapped the body in linen wrappings until all but His face was covered. After rubbing a layer of expensive, aromatic mixture of aloe and myrrh on the wrappings, they wrapped another layer of linen, followed by another layer of spices, and so on…until the body was wrapped in 75 pounds of linen and spices. After putting a small cloth over Jesus’ face, Joseph and Nicodemus left the tomb and Joseph rolled a large stone over the entrance; then they, along with several of the women who had followed Jesus out of Galilee and had accompanied them to the tomb, left to observe the Sabbath.
We all know what happened the following Sunday morning, but rather than talk about His resurrection I’d like to share a few more thoughts about His burial. God inspired the apostle Paul to write to Christians, reminding them that they also experienced a burial. To the Roman saints he wrote, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). To the Colossians he wrote that they had been “buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses…God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” (Colossians 2:12-13).
The Bible teaches that one becomes a Christian by repenting – turning away from – of their old, sinful way of life…dying to their old self. Through baptism, being submerged in water, one is spiritually buried just as Christ was buried. Upon coming out of that water, they “rise again” to a new life just as Christ was resurrected. They are “born again.”
Have you been born again? Have you been buried in water as Christ was buried in the earth?