The events that followed the death of Jesus were interesting as His body was taken for burial. The depth of feeling that the Jewish leaders held against Jesus and those who followed him was evident in the reactions of those who claimed His body.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews came to claim the body and prepare it for burial. However they came secretly and surreptitiously because they feared the Jewish leaders. We see it later also in the reactions of the disciples prior to Pentecost where they remained locked up in the upper room where the last supper was held. They were basically in hiding because all felt that the Jewish leaders had gained the advantage and had won.
They were wrong for the death and burial of Jesus was not the end, but the beginning and the repercussions of His death, burial and resurrection carry forward to us today.
Jesus' body was taken down and carried to a newly hewn tomb where the body was prepared with various scents, ointments and spices to prepare for final burial. The body was wrapped in a linen shroud and then left in that state.
It was the Day of Preparation of the Passover feast and so no further work could be done to prepare the body for burial after sunset that day, nor during the Passover feast and sabbath days to follow.
Sign of Jonah
What was important in this timing and process was the fulfilment of the prophecy that Jesus himself had given to the Jews. In Matthew 12:38-40 Jesus said these words.
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus had already spoken to the Jews and also his disciples telling them of His death and resurrection. And just as Jonah had spent three days in the belly of that great fish as he ran from The Lord to escape his call to speak to the people of Nineveh, so to Jesus would spend only three days in death until all had been completed.
In the same way today we too go through the burial that Jesus went through. When we are baptised by full immersion in water, we die with Christ and are buried with him. As He was buried in the earth, we are “buried” in the waters of baptism. We die and are buried with Him and by this baptism we enter into His death. We take on or put on His death as if it were our own.
This is an extremely important point in the structure of the Christian covenant, and not often given the importance that it is due.
Sin exists only when a person is alive. As Paul wrote in Romans 6:2-4,
2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 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.
You have died to sin through being baptised into the death of Jesus Christ. In your baptism, assuming you have been baptised, you have taken on the death of Jesus Christ as if it were your own. And to receive His death in his manner in baptism, all you have to do is to believe it.
We talk as Christians often about the grace of God. This is the ultimate form of grace that He has shown us. That through believing (having faith) that we have died with Christ, He will accept our faith as evidence of our death. And if we are dead, we are no longer bound under sin, as the scripture above shows us.
Even more than that, the law is only binding on a person while they are alive too, as Paul shows in Romans 7:1, which says, “Or do you not know, brothers-for I am speaking to those who know the law-that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?” O once again, if God accepts our faith in putting on the death of Jesus as our REAL death, then we are no longer under the law of Moses either. And if we are not under the law we cannot break it. Ad if we cannot break the law, then we do not sin! We can no longer call ourselves sinners because in the death of Jesus God has dealt with sin taking it away and replacing it with righteousness. And we have all of this by faith and through the grace of God.
You can be free from sin! In fact if we are to get into God's kingdom it is essential that we be set free from sin. No sinner can or will stand before God. But He has given us the means to have our sins not just forgiven, but completely wiped away. And that is through baptism into the death and burial of Jesus.
That does not mean we won't make mistakes, but we can no longer call them sin. However the phase of the work of God after baptism, which includes the resurrection as a born again new creation, is the work of transformation into the image of Christ, which comes through the working of the Holy Spirit in us.
There is so much more I can say about this, but it will need to wait until we get into other sections of the scripture. When I learned this though, it was utter joy in the knowledge that I have been set free from sin for this is one of the many free gifts from God.
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