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A Shroud and a Stone

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
July 25, 2022 11:08 am

A Shroud and a Stone

The Verdict / John Munro

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July 25, 2022 11:08 am

Dr. John H. Munro July 24, 2022 Matthew 27:57-66

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At Calvary Church, we love the gospel. The Apostle Paul says that the gospel is of first importance.

There are many things that we could be doing. There are many things that we as a church could be doing, and people of all kinds of ideas and sometimes email me or speak to me about things that we at Calvary Church should be doing, but this is of first and of crucial importance, the gospel. Will you stand and read the Word of God to me as Paul articulates it in 1 Corinthians 15 verses 3 and 4? Read with me. For I deliver to you as of first importance what I also receive, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. Thank you.

Please be seated. That's the gospel. That's what Paul says, and again he says it is of first importance, and we've been learning over these past few weeks as we've been concluding the gospel, according to Matthew, that Christ died on the cross for our sins.

That is, Jesus takes her place on the cross and that through His death there is offered to you forgiveness of sins. We were singing about the worthiness of our Savior. Who is worthy? You are not worthy to enter heaven.

I'm not worthy to enter heaven because we have this huge problem of failure, of sin, and now from heaven, yes, help comes not from ourselves, not from our own intuition, not from following your heart, not by consulting with others, not by getting you into some kind of psychological state, no, help comes from outside of us. That's the gospel, that help comes from heaven that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. That the gospel, please note, is not only that Christ died for our sins, that is crucial, but as we read, not only did Christ die for our sins, Paul states that He was buried. And in our continuing study of the gospel of Matthew, we come today to the burial of Jesus, something I think we glide over and perhaps minimize. I've called this message A Shroud and a Stone.

We're going to read about a shroud, and we're going to read about a great stone. Do you have your Bible with you? Turn to the first gospel, Matthew chapter 27. Why do I always emphasize the Bible?

Because our authority comes not from the tradition of Calvary Church, not from my own ideas, not from some cult, but comes from the Holy Scriptures which are God's revelation to us, so that when the Bible speaks, God is speaking. Do you want to hear what God has to say regarding the burial of His Son? Matthew 27 verse 57. I remember last week we saw Christ dying on the cross. We heard His words, my God, my God, why have you forgiven me? Notice Jesus was not speaking to Himself. We believe that God is triune, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Occasionally, we hear someone and they're praying to God the Father, and they're thanking the Father then for dying on the cross.

Not only is that wrong, it's heretical. God the Father did not die on the cross. God the Son died on the cross, that the Father sends the Son to be the propitiation for our sins. So we thought last week of Jesus dying on the cross, verse 57, when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him, given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is after the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, sir, we remember how that imposter said while he was still alive, after three days I will rise. Therefore, order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people he has risen from the dead.

And the last fraud will be worse than the first. Pilate said to them, you have a guard of soldiers, go make it as secure as you can. So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. It is an intriguing passage of Scripture, isn't it? We are saying this morning, we are learning this morning the importance of the burial of Jesus. Now the Gospel record makes it very clear, first of all, that Jesus died on the cross. We saw last week in verse 50 of Matthew 27, Jesus is on the cross, he cried out with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. Don't think of Jesus as a victim caught in tragic events over which he had no control.

Absolutely not. He knew his mission. The Son knew why the Father had sent him into this world. He's given that name, Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Paul said that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

That is his primary mission. Yes, he healed people, he gave brilliant teaching, but this was his mission, to save sinners. The Apostle John writes, the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Isn't that magnificent? That God sends his Son to destroy the works of our enemy. Now on the cross, as we saw last week, we see our Lord bowing his head, bowing to the will of the Father and voluntarily giving up his life for sinners like you and me. Jesus died on the cross. Some people have tried to argue that Jesus didn't actually die, but went into a kind of swoon on the cross, that he was unconscious.

That's clearly contradicted by the historical evidence. In Mark's Gospel, Pilate, the Roman procurator, summons the centurion who was in charge of the execution of Jesus. Centurion is given the task, along with his men, of crucifying, of killing Jesus on the cross. So Pilate summons the centurion, and the centurion confirms to the Roman procurator Pilate that Jesus actually died on the cross. He gave Pilate, as it were, a kind of death certificate.

No question, sir. The prisoner was put to death. I oversaw it.

I was there. My men put him to death. The Gospel record is true. There is no question that Jesus died on the cross. That's essential to the Gospel, not only that Christ died, but that he died for our sins. Crucial to the Gospel is that Jesus was buried. Now, Jesus died on a Friday.

We call it Good Friday. According to the Jews, the burial had to be completed by sunset, for that was the beginning of their Sabbath. That was very important to the Jews. We honor a loved one who has died by taking care of their body.

The Jews certainly did that. You can read that over and over again in the Old Testament, how people cared for their loved one on their death. Now, those who were crucified didn't normally get a burial at all. They may have been thrown into a common grave.

They may have been left for the animals to be devoured. But isn't it marvelous that in the providence of God, this man that we've never heard of before in the Gospels, this wonderful man, this lovely man, would you love to meet him? He's called Joseph of Arimathea.

And he does something tremendously brave. He risks his life by going to Pilate and asking for the body of Jesus. This man, Joseph, wants to avoid any further indignities to the body of Jesus. So we read in verse 59, Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb.

Now, the Bible says this was a rich man. Perhaps he had servants who helped him to take down the body from the cross. Joseph would have had to lower the cross, I'm sure with great love and care, extract the nails from Jesus' hands and feet. The body of Jesus had been spat on it had been bruised, it had been lashed. His body had been pierced with a spear. Obviously, his hands and his feet were nailed. The crown of thorns had been thrust on his head.

He's scarcely recognizable as a human being. Remember, we saw that in the prophecy in Isaiah. And here is our Savior. And this wonderful man, Joseph, from this little town of Arimathea, he's there and he wraps Jesus in a clean linen shroud, a sheet, and lays him in his own new tomb. Gently, they take him down, unfix his hands and feet, take from his head the thorny crown, laid him in a linen sheet.

Can you see that? The burial of Jesus is in fulfillment of prophecy over and over again. Matthew, who knew his Old Testament Scripture, is writing particularly to the Jewish community as he presents Jesus as the King. He loves to quote the Old Testament, he loves to refer to the Old Testament, and he would have known the Scripture. Isaiah had prophesied, and they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth. As a prophecy, Isaiah 53 verse 9, now it is fulfilled.

So the body of Jesus is taken down from the cross, it's wrapped in a clean linen shroud, and it's put in this new tomb that Arimathea, this rich man, had prepared for his own body and probably for the body of his family. Have you ever thought of the humility of our Lord Jesus? He's a Lord of glory. He's a creator of the heavens and the earth.

He is the great I Am, no beginning and no end, because he's the eternal God. And now he comes into time and space. He comes from the light of heaven into the darkness.

He is born, a baby in Bethlehem. This is God incarnate. Not only does he become a man, Paul reminds us in the Philippines too, he becomes a servant.

Yes, he's the one who washes the feet of his disciples, a very lowly task. This is the heart of God. This is what God is like, God incarnate.

He lives a perfect life. Not only does he become a man, he becomes a servant. Not only does he become a servant, he becomes obedient to death. Not only does he become obedient to death, he becomes obedient to death on a cross.

The most horrible death you can imagine. Not only does he become obedient to death, he allows, as we just read, he allows his body to be taken down from that old rugged cross and to be wrapped in a shroud and put in a grave. The Lord of glory.

What humility, what grace, what love for you and me. The theologian John Dick writes, the shades of death have enveloped him and silence reigns in his lonely abode, referring to our Lord being placed in the grave. Now, Joseph is described as a rich man from Arimathy, verse 7, so he lays the body in his own new tomb which he'd cut in a rock. And then he takes, the Bible says, verse 60, he rolls a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and then goes away. Now, there's no question that Jesus died on the cross, and there's no question that he was buried. Joseph had a shroud, Joseph had a great stone, and the Lord is buried.

He dies for our sins, he is buried. And the Gospel records, Matthew that we've been studying, at least five or six times in the mouth of our Lord, our Lord predicts his resurrection. He said that the shepherd, referring to himself, is going to be struck down, the sheep are going to be scattered, and then he says in chapter 26, verse 32, after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.

He tells his disciples several times, evil men are going to take me, they're going to kill me, but after three days I will rise again. Do you remember in chapter 26 there's this wonderful woman who has this expensive perfume, and she anoints the body of Jesus, and she does it to prepare the Lord for burial. Do you think that woman also would have known that the Lord was going to be resurrected? Think of these women in verses 55 and 56, they're at the cross, looking on from a distance. And then we read in verse 61, regarding the burial, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there sitting opposite the tomb.

These women are at the burial. And at the dawn of that first Easter Sunday, these two women, chapter 28, verse 1, after the Sabbath toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Now these are women who had traveled with Jesus for about three years. They had ministered to him, they had served him, they loved Jesus, they cared for Jesus. They're there at the cross, they're there at the burial, and they're there at the tomb. Do you not think they believed that Jesus would rise from the dead?

They had heard him say it. The irony, because the apostles are not there waiting for the resurrection, the irony is that the opponents of Jesus, verses 62 and 63, were so nervous after the death of Jesus that they went so far as meeting Pilate and they said, verse 63, sir, we remember how that the imposter said while he was still alive, after three days I will rise again. So the opponents of Jesus, they heard the Lord give these prophecies, I'm going to be killed, but after three days I will rise again. They remembered it.

What about these women? What about the apostles? And so they say, in order to prevent his disciples coming and stealing the body, we need to guard the tomb.

And Pilate says, well, go ahead. Get a guard of soldiers to secure the tomb. So the tomb had a great stone in front of it.

The stone is sealed and secured by guards, sent there by the opponents of Jesus to make sure that his disciples wouldn't come and steal the body and say, oh, he's resurrected. Isn't it fascinating that these men, these wicked men, were so nervous about the possible resurrection of Jesus. There's no doubt that Jesus died. There's no doubt that he was buried.

And as we're going to say in a couple of weeks, as we go into chapter 28, there is no doubt that the tomb is going to be empty. Now, think of this with me as we think of the burial of Jesus, that God uses unexpected people. Joseph and Nicodemus are unlikely people to take care of the body of Jesus. If you are reading the gospel records, you've got these 12 men, okay, Judas has gone, commit suicide, but you've got 11 men who had been with Jesus, who had seen the miracles, who had listened to his teaching, who had heard him say he was going to be resurrected. Wouldn't you have thought that these men would have been there to bury him?

Wouldn't you have thought that these men would have been there awaiting the resurrection? Instead, in the providence of God, these two men, Joseph and Nicodemus, take care of the body of Jesus. Prior to Matthew chapter 27, there's no record of Joseph of Arimathea in the gospels. He's described here, verse 57, as a disciple of Jesus. John, when he gives his account, says secretly for fear of the Jews. So Joseph is a secret disciple.

He lives in the shadows, as it were. He's following Jesus, but he doesn't really want people to know. But now, he's the man, the unlikely man, the secret disciple. He shows great courage in going to Pilate and asking for the body of Jesus. And John records this other man, Nicodemus, brings a mixture of myrrh and alloys to anoint the body of Jesus. We take the body, we put it in the shroud, and Nicodemus is there with a large quantity of alloys and myrrh.

Nicodemus, we know who he is. He is described in John 3 as the one who came to see Jesus by night. But up to this point, these men are secret disciples. Both of them are members of the Sinhedrin, the Jewish high council. And Joseph was, according to Mark 15, verse 34, was a respected member of the council.

Look in his account as that Joseph was a good and a righteous man. He's well thought of. He's a rich man. He's in the community. He's respected. He's good.

He's just. And what about Nicodemus? Nicodemus was highly educated. He was a ruler of the Jews. He knew the Old Testament Scripture. He taught the Word of God to people.

He was a teacher in Israel. So here are these two men, highly educated, highly influential, highly respected in Israel, and they are there at the burial of Jesus. Luke reminds us that Joseph, this man from Arimathea, had not consented to the decision and action of the Sinhedrin. Remember the Sinhedrin made the decision to deliver Jesus to be crucified. Joseph of Arimathea had not consented to that. Did he abstain? What did he do?

We don't know, but he did not consent to the decision. These chief priests, these elders, they hate Jesus. And you can imagine their outrage on hearing that these two influential men, Joseph and Nicodemus, had been involved with the burial of Jesus. And when you think of Joseph, and you think of Nicodemus, you wonder what happened. How is it these men who are following Jesus as it were in the shadows, secretly, how is it that they are now so bold?

The answer is the transforming power of the cross. Joseph is a disciple of Jesus. He must have heard of the teaching of Jesus. Luke says that after the death of the Lord Jesus, Joseph was looking for the kingdom of God.

How wonderful. He had heard a teaching from Jesus, presumably directly or indirectly, about the kingdom of God, that there was this eternal kingdom and that the Lord Jesus Christ was the king of this eternal kingdom. And he's looking for it even after the death of Jesus.

He seemed to know that the death of Jesus was not the end. And the cross of Christ, the transforming power of the cross of Christ, brings the secret disciple into the open. One of our themes this year is seek first the kingdom of God.

Are you seeking that? This man was. He was looking for, he was seeking the kingdom of God. And those who are seeking the kingdom of God are transformed by the power of the cross. Did Nicodemus know about the kingdom of God?

Absolutely. He had heard it from our Lord Jesus, the perfect teacher recorded in John 3. Jesus had explained to Nicodemus, and Nicodemus had trouble with this, the Lord Jesus had explained to Nicodemus that you must be born again. There is a supernatural birth that must take place, Nicodemus, and that is going to come from heaven.

Help comes from heaven. It is a birth from above, outside of yourself, supernatural, a birth of the Spirit. And if you don't experience, Nicodemus, that supernatural birth, you will not see, you will not enter the kingdom of God.

And Nicodemus had heard that, how these words must have burned into his soul. He knew the Scriptures, he comes to Jesus by night, and in the grace of God, he too is transformed by the cross. And now this unexpected man, Nicodemus is there, lovingly bringing alloys and more for the burial of Jesus. Two unexpected disciples responding to the cross of Christ with profound courage, with profound love and care. Now, openly identifying with Jesus, the transformation of these two men. Think also of these devoted women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.

Faithful, loyal, quiet, service of Jesus. Where are they? They're at the cross. Where are they? They're at the burial.

Where are they? They're there first on that resurrection Sunday. Again, they had been at the cross. I challenged you over the last couple of weeks, have you been to the cross of Christ? What kind of faith do you have? How would you define your Christianity by being good, by coming to church, by going through the ordinances? Or would you define it that you've been to the cross and realized that Christ died for my sins?

He was buried, and on the third day, he rose again. Some of you, relatively speaking, are secret disciples. You're a follower of Jesus, but you're kind of in hiding.

It's kind of incognito to you. The truth be told, some of your own family don't know that you're a follower of Christ. Some of the people that you work with in your office, the bank, the school, the store, wherever God in His sovereign purposes places you, they really don't know that you are a follower of Christ.

People in your community, you say, well, I'm a kind of private person. I keep my faith to myself. That's not what Scripture wants. You are to be openly a follower of Christ. You are openly to confess that you are an authentic follower of Jesus Christ. This is the most important thing about you.

This is your identity. Why is it that you've kept your faith in Christ so secret? The first thing in the New Testament that happens when a person is saved by the grace of God, you know what happens? You know what the sign of being a follower of Christ, openly confessing Christ, is baptism. Baptism. Some of you say, well, I'm not ready for that.

Not ready for that? If you're a follower of Christ, why wouldn't you openly confess your faith in Jesus Christ? You say, well, I was baptized as a baby.

That's not found in the New Testament. Babies can't openly confess their faith in Christ. This is for you as a responsible person, as a student, as an adult to say, yes, I am a follower of Jesus Christ.

That's the most important thing about me. I'm openly confessing my faith in Christ. You're to be a light for Christ, stepping out as it were from the crowd. Some of you like to be in the crowd, one of the boys just drifting along.

You're there. Yes, you are a believer in Jesus Christ, but you just kind of go along with everyone. Will you take a stand for Christ? Are you afraid to say that you belong to Jesus Christ? Here's an example of these men who had, as it were, been secret followers of Christ, but now, transformed by the cross of Christ, their life has changed.

They take their life in their hands, as it were, and say we want to bury Jesus Christ. The cross of Christ saves us. The cross of Christ gives us courage. The cross of Christ transforms us.

What about you? I want you to look at the Lamb of God. This is what Matthew's doing.

He's presenting Jesus Christ as the Savior, as the King, as the Lord from heaven. Will you look to Him? Will you look to Him and be transformed? Will you look to Him and take courage? Will you look and live? Isaiah says, look unto me all the ends of the earth and you'll be saved. If you look to Jesus Christ, you'll be saved.

Your sins will be forgiven. There is no doubt that our Lord Jesus died physically on the cross. There is no doubt that He was buried, and I thought of this this week. Here's something. The fact that Jesus was buried in a grave removes the fear of the grave for us who are His followers.

You say, how is that? The Lord Jesus never asks you to go where He has not already been. That's what it means to follow Jesus. Jesus Christ has gone into death.

His body was taken and put in the grave. You say, I don't want to think about it. I want you to think about it. Unless the Lord Jesus Christ comes, I'll die. And when I die, my loved ones are going to put me in a grave. I don't fear that.

You say, well, that's a terrible thought. No, it isn't, because my Lord Jesus Christ has gone into the grave and the Scripture says, oh, death, where is your sting? Oh, grave, where is your victory? Our Lord Jesus Christ has gone into death itself, has taken on the enemy, has slain the dragon as it were, has triumphed over all of the principalities of evil, has taken on death, has died my death, and magnificently the Lord Jesus says to His disciples in John 14, because I live, you shall live also. My friend, there's no reason to fear death.

There's no reason to fear the grave. As we'll see in a couple of weeks, up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph for His foes. He arose. He arose. Hallelujah, Christ arose. He dies for our sins. He's buried. He is raised again. There is a shroud.

There is a stone. And praise God, there is an empty tomb. Trust Christ. Father, help us to do that as we prepare our hearts for communion. We'll look to our magnificent Christ, the wonder of His death, His burial, and His resurrection, and ask that you will guide us now as we break bread. Open our eyes. Some here are lost. Some are secret disciples. Give them courage as we look at Christ in the breaking of bread. Help us, we pray, in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-19 23:06:21 / 2023-03-19 23:17:26 / 11

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