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The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
June 4, 2023 7:00 pm


The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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June 4, 2023 7:00 pm

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Have your Bibles with you today.

Turn with me if you would to Mark chapter 15. And we're looking at verses 42 to 47. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joseph, saw where he was laid. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we want to lift up our sick to you today. We pray for Jeremy Carriker and Jim Belt and Nicole Lowes. We pray a prayer of thanksgiving for Gerard Meshad's operation that he went through. And pray, Lord, that you help him with the pain now as he is recovering from the replacing of a heart valve. Heavenly Father, we pray for Mae Rainey, who is going through a bone marrow transplant.

Pray for healing for Tracy Peck's dad, Mr. Bobenchek. Heavenly Father, we just want to praise you today over Hebrews 13.8. It says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You've also said in your word in John 14.27, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Father, this morning we stand on that promise. Lord, we have the privilege today to study your death and burial.

May we understand its importance. May we be moved to repentance of sin and surrender to your lordship. Forgive us for our spiritual apathy, our laziness, our lack of zeal to repent. Forgive us for not being overwhelmed by the cross, your death, your burial, your resurrection, your ascension, and your soon return. Open the word of God to us this morning. May we be broken and then healed. May Jesus be exalted, for it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. Gerard David was a Dutch artist who lived back during the Renaissance period of time. He painted a very famous picture of the removal of Jesus' body from the cross at Calvary.

And that picture, the sky was dark and angry looking. There were two men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who had leaned a ladder up against Jesus' cross. And with decorative robes on, they've climbed up to the top of the ladder. One of them is taking a hammer and he's prying the spikes out of Jesus' hands and feet. And the other one is holding the body of Jesus. In the distance, there's a group of women that are standing there and they are weeping. And then there is another woman, Mary Magdalene, that is not far from there.

And she is wiping a tear from her eyes. Under that particular cross, there are broken human bones, even a broken skull, to show us that this place was truly a hill of death. But there's something in that particular painting that seems oddly just weird and like it should not be there. And that was a windmill that was way back in the background. And what in the world was that put in there for? This windmill would indicate that there was one there back when Jesus died 2,000 years ago. There weren't any windmills in Jerusalem at that time.

Why? I know that he's a Dutch artist, but why would he put a windmill in that picture? So they asked him about it and this was his answer. He said it's important for us to know that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ happened in the real world. He said, my world is a world of windmills. Folks, the world in which we live today is a world of high-powered internet and high-rise condominiums. It's a real world.

But the point is the same. Jesus really died and he was really buried in our world in space and time. In other words, don't start the story of the crucifixion and resurrection and burial of Jesus with the phrase, once upon a time. Folks, this is not a fairy tale. There was real pain. There was real suffering. There was real bloodshed and there was real death.

I've got four points I want to share with you this morning. My first point is the mechanics of his burial. Look with me, if you would, at Mark 15. We're going to look at verses 42 through 46. And when evening had come, since it was the day of preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.

And Joseph bought a linen shroud, taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock, and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. The chief priests have asked Pilate to be quick about this. If they needed to get those three bodies that are on the cross, they need to get those bodies down. They need to get them put away and buried, and they need to do it very quickly.

And what was the hurry? Well, this was Passover season. And when Jesus died, it was at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

It was only three hours until the Sabbath day would begin. They needed to have Jesus and those other two buried by then. Now, Jesus had already died. The other two at that point had not died. They were up on the cross. They had probably not been scourged like Jesus was, and they could have lived for several more days. And so this was a kind of a rough situation.

What are they going to do about it? In his book Killing Jesus, Stephen Mansfield describes the scene this way. The centurion nods to his men. One of the soldiers walks a short distance away and retrieves a board. It's about an inch by three inches wide, about four feet long. Looks like a baseball bat. It is for administering the breaking of bones, and it comes with a steely logic. These prisoners are only alive because they can still push themselves up to breathe, keep them from breathing, and they die. This means breaking their legs.

The soldier moves to one of the living prisoners, broadening his stance slightly. He swings the four-foot club at full strength into the impaled man's lower leg. The bone cracks. The man screams.

Another swing, and the other leg breaks. The man sinks down as far as his pinned arms allow. He cannot rise again, so he cannot breathe. Within minutes, he is dead.

The soldiers return to the King of the Jews. He seems to be dead, but when men on this detail had misjudged death before, they paid for it, better to be sure. Grabbing his spear at mid-shaft, one of the mercenaries thrust it into the side of the dead man.

Somewhere between the fifth and sixth ribs, no response. When the soldier pulls the spear out, what looks like blood and water pour out. John, Jesus' friend, sees this. He had taken Mary to his house earlier, as Jesus wished, but now she has returned. He will tell often of the blood and the water that flowed from his friend's side. Satisfied, the centurion's men turn to the prisoner and dispatch him with two blows of their wooden club.

The work is done. The prisoners are dead. We'll get back to Joseph of Arimathea in just a minute, but I want to really focus on the burial for just a moment. The body was removed from the cross, and Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take the body, and they take it to a tomb. It just happens that this is Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, the one that he had bought to be buried in himself.

But time was of the essence here. He didn't have time to go out and buy another tomb for Jesus, so he was going to give Jesus his own tomb. And they took Jesus to this tomb. They laid him in the tomb itself.

Folks, this is a prophecy that was fulfilled from Isaiah, chapter 53, verse 9. It says, and they made his grave with the wicked and with the rich man in his death. This tomb was extremely expensive. It was cut out of pure rock.

It was cut a big cave-like in the side of the mountain. They brought the body of Jesus, and they laid it on a flat rock that looked much like a bed. They wrapped the body of Jesus in a shroud, and then they took long strips of linen, and they went around and around and around his body until he looked like a mummy. There was another piece of cloth that was put on his face on his head.

It was called a napkin. The ladies came a little bit later to anoint the body of Jesus with spices. Nicodemus had brought 75 pounds of perfumes and spices, and the women applied it to the body of Jesus.

When the body was finally finished, then they left. And as they're walking out, they take the big stone, and they push it into the center of that opening in the cave, and then they get a Roman soldier to come and place a Roman seal on it. And when we talk about a Roman guard, I think a lot of times people think, well, that's just one guy. No, a Roman guard was a squadron of soldiers.

It was 16 top-notch Roman warriors who were trained much like our green berets. So why were they there? They were there to be sure that the body did not get stolen.

And if one of those soldiers would happen to fall asleep on duty, it was a crime that was punishable by death. All right, point two, the doctrine of his burial. Look at verse 46 again. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock, and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. When we studied the crucifixion of Christ, we spent a lot of time dealing with the doctrine of his death, that when Jesus died, there were four glorious truths that were gloriously wonderfully fulfilled.

And what were they? Well, first, it was a substitutionary atonement, that Jesus died as our substitute. He died in our place, that he took our hell for us and suffered that hell. And secondly, his death was a propitiation. It appeased the wrath of God against us. Thirdly, it was a reconciliation. There was like a mountain of sin between us and a holy God, and Jesus' death and his precious blood broke through that mountain, and God the Father and a sinful man were finally able to be reconciled. And then lastly, it was a redemption. The blood of Jesus paid for us that we might be bought and ransomed out of the slave market of sin. Folks, that's the theology of his death.

That's not so much what I want to deal with right now. I want to deal with the theology of his burial. Is his burial important?

Does it really matter? Evidently Paul thought so, for in 1 Corinthians 15 verses 3 through 4, when he's telling us what the gospel is, he includes it. Listen to what he said. For I delivered to you as the first important what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scripture, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scripture. A few weeks ago, Eugene was preaching on this very passage, and he asked a question I thought was very important. He said, why does Paul include the burial of Jesus when he's presenting the gospel? He said, we all know that Jesus had to die in order to pay for our sin debt, that he rose from the debt in order to break the power of death. But what about the burial?

What part did that play? Eugene said the following. Let me borrow his notes, and so I'm going to read you exactly how he said it.

I thought it was good. But then Paul adds that he was buried. Now this one's interesting to me because from a theological standpoint, Christ's burial did not have any atoning effect. The sins of all the elect were paid for on the cross at the moment Jesus cried out, it is finished. So why would Paul mention the burial of Christ here?

Why is Christ's burial included in the early creeds of the church, the apostles' creed and the Nicene Creed? I think the inclusion of this detail highlights the fact that Jesus Christ was really man, not some phantom that only appeared to be real. He was human. He also establishes the fact that as a man, he really died.

He didn't merely swoon on the cross and survive the ordeal. He was dead, dead. To the point that they buried him in a tomb for three days. His burial highlights the reality and certainty of his death. But it also highlights the reality and certainty of his resurrection. If he was truly dead when his disciples buried him, then he was truly resurrected when they went away and found an empty tomb. His resurrection was not a group hallucination as some have claimed. It wasn't an imagined resurrection, it was real.

Just as real as his death. And there was evidence of an empty tomb where he had been intentionally and knowingly buried by his disciples to prove it. All the way through the last 2,000 years of history, the false prophets had denied the incarnation. That Jesus Christ was fully God and that he was fully man. Many of the Gnostics taught that the body of Jesus was just an apparition. It was just an illusion that it wasn't a real body.

That it was kind of like a well-defined ghost. Folks, that's a false gospel. It is an absolute lie.

There's no truth to it whatsoever. Nothing proclaims the frailty of humanity like a corpse. To dust we are and to dust we will return. Joseph of Arimathea took the dead body of Jesus and he held it in his arms. He was holding a real human body.

Jesus had been alive. It was a body that had weight to it. The evidence was glaring that this was a true body for there was still dried blood on the body of Jesus. On his face and in his beard there was dried blood on his hands and on his feet.

There were firm bones and there was cold skin. Folks, this was not a ghost. It was not an apparition.

It was not an illusion. This was a human body, the human body of the divine Son of God, Jesus Christ. Secondly, the burial of Jesus was an absolute necessary prerequisite to his resurrection.

Now, this is only logical. In order for someone to be resurrected from the dead, he first of all has to be dead. In other words, there could be no Easter without Good Friday. There could be no resurrection without the crucifixion. There could be no empty tomb without the burial. The crucifixion of Christ is just half the gospel. The other half is the resurrection. Jesus died in order to pay our sin debt. He was raised from the dead to break the power of death and the burial of Jesus Christ was done in preparation for the greatest event that the world has ever seen and that is the resurrection of Christ. Folks, when God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, he was making a statement and that statement was that Jesus Christ was exactly who he said he was and everything that he ever did and everything that he ever said had God's stamp of approval.

All right, that takes us to point three and point three is the courage of godly men. I'm going to take my text here from starting off with Luke and Luke 23 verses 50 through 53. He said, Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man who had not consented to their decision and action and he was looking for the kingdom of God. The man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen shroud, laid him in a tomb cut in stone where no one has ever yet been laid. John 19 verse 38 through 40. After these things Joseph of Arimathea who was a disciple of Jesus but secretly for fear of the Jews asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus.

Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away the body. Nicodemus also had earlier come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes about 75 pounds in weight.

So they took the body of Jesus, they bound it in linen cloths with the spices as is the burial custom of the Jews. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus both are referred to in the scripture as secret disciples. They had not gone public with their profession of faith or their love for Jesus. They respected him.

They looked up to him. I think they probably thought this man may very well be the Messiah that we were looking for but they had not manned up and said Jesus is Lord. They had not shared that with others. They had kept quiet. What was the holdup? Why were they so hesitant?

Why were they so tentative? They were both members of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a 70 member, a Jewish high court and if you were part of the Sanhedrin there were a lot of perks that went along with it. People showed them respect.

It paid extremely well. It opened up all kinds of opportunities for teaching and speaking and preaching. They were considered the spiritual elite of Jerusalem. Folks, their status as members of the Sanhedrin meant for them. It meant prosperity, power, prestige and position. So for months what they had felt in their heart was not being relayed out of their mouth. Folks, they admired Jesus but they admired him from a distance.

They believed Jesus to be theologically correct, doctrinally sound, supernaturally powerful, prophetically accurate, humanly compassionate and spiritually led. But to publicly confess him was going to be tough. They would be shunned by their fellow council members. That would mean that they're not going to get any more promotions.

That also would mean that their wallets were going to suffer. So they just kept silent. They tried to straddle the fence.

They did everything they could just to be neutral. Now they certainly weren't speaking against Jesus like Annas and Caiaphas were but they weren't doing what Peter did either. When Peter said, Jesus you are the Christ, the son of the living God. They were silent believers. Let me ask you something.

Is that okay? Is it all right to be a silent believer? We're living in a day in a society and a culture where taking a stand for Christ is going to cost you something. If people know that you seriously believe that faith in Jesus is your only hope of salvation and you believe that even sincere Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus are on their way to hell if they reject Christ then you're going to be punished and you're going to be targeted. If you refuse to take a stand on certain things like you put down transgenderism or pornography or abortion or same sex marriage then you're going to be persecuted. Now our persecution right now might be minor but things are quickly changing.

Well, is it wrong for us to keep quiet? Is it a sin to say forget it to the Great Commission? What if Paul had said, hey, the Greeks are happy with their false God and their sex cults so why should I bother them by telling them unless you repent you shall all likewise perish? Why should I tell them that surrender to Christ is the only hope of salvation? Folks, if people are partying themselves into an eternal hell would it be unloving for me to tell them that there's an answer for that and his name is Christ? Is it wrong to pull a blind man out from the path of a speeding car?

Is it wrong to pull a lame man out of a burning house? Is it right to sit on God's revealed truth and be a secret disciple? Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus watched Jesus as he was scourged with a cat of nine tails whip. They watched him beaten probably way over 40 lashes. Then they watched him suffering our hell for us on the cross of Calvary. They made a decision. They said, no, we can't be silent any longer.

No matter what the cost, no matter what we lose, no matter what people think if Jesus died for us then our days of silence are over and if we perish then we perish. They marched up to Pilate and they said give us the body of Jesus that we might give him an honorable burial. Mark 15 43 says that Joseph of Arimathea went courageously, went with boldness in his heart to ask Pilate for the body and they got the body.

What's the hurry here? Why did they have to, why did all this have to happen so quickly? Kent Hughes said this, the Jews had already had an understanding with Pilate that the bodies of the crucified were to be taken down and buried before 6 p.m. When the Sabbath began, Joseph knew this meant Jesus' corpse would be tossed into a common criminal's grave as the ultimate emblem of humiliation and that Joseph could not bear. Joseph and Nicodemus are doing something that you would have expected the disciples to do. Disciples had walked with Jesus for three years. They had preached the gospel. They had cast out demons.

They had healed the sick. But when it came to giving Jesus an honorable burial, they were nowhere to be found. They took off like a bunch of scared, scattered sheep and people couldn't find them.

Joseph and Nicodemus didn't run. They went boldly to Pilate. They got his permission. They climbed up the cross. They removed Jesus' body from the cross. They took it back in to his own tomb that he paid for. They laid him down. They put a shroud around him. They wrapped him up in cloths.

They put 75 pounds of spices on his body along with the women's help and they made a statement. They said, we stand for Christ. No matter what, come hell or high water, we stand for Christ.

Why don't you listen to this challenge from Philip Ryken? By burying Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea became an example for every believer to follow. Have you taken your stand with Jesus at the cross? Are you willing to be identified with the Savior who died for you no matter what the cost? Do you have the courage of your convictions?

Or is your Christianity more or less a secret? It is one thing to praise God in church, but another thing to proclaim him out in the community. Do not be so concerned about your reputation that you fail to tell your friends what you really believe. Do not be so ambitious to advance your career that you compromise your commitment to Christ in your art or your schoolwork or your business.

Do not be so jealous, so jealous to protect everything you have gained in life that you will not give up what you need to give up for the glory of God. Stop being a secret disciple and stand with Jesus at the cross. Indeed, it is always at the cross where Christians stand with Christ, sharing in the offense of his crucifixion and serving him by proclaiming the message of the cross to a world that is lost in sin.

All right, point four is the compassion of gentle women. Look with me at Mark 15, 47. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid in Luke 23, 55 through 56. It says, The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, saw the tomb and how his body was laid.

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. According to Luke 23, 49, these women stood at a distance watching. Now, folks, when Joseph and Arimathea and Nicodemus went to Pilate, they had clout.

Pilate knew these were important guys, and he knew that he had better listen to them because he was important in the culture in which they lived. These women had no clout. They had no sway with Pilate. Nobody listened to them. All they could do was just pray and ask God to let them have the opportunity to put spices and perfumes on his dead body.

The disciples were no help. They'd all run and they were in hiding. But these women stayed at the cross until the end. When Joseph and Nicodemus returned to the cross with a ladder and with a hammer to pull or pry the spikes out of his hands and feet and with a linen shroud to wrap him up, these ladies were absolutely ecstatic. They said, praise God, we're going to get to do this.

And so as soon as they got his body there, laid out with a shroud around it with the linen strips around him, they took the 75 pounds of spices and they began to very quickly place it on his body and anoint his body. Folks, these ladies were from Galilee. They were country girls. Although they were country girls, they knew the Word of God. They knew what the Scripture says about keeping the Sabbath day holy. They knew that the Sabbath day was quickly coming and so they got it done quickly and they were making a statement. God says that we are to honor the Sabbath day and, God, we agree. We agree with what you said.

What a witness that should be to the modern day church. Our society has little use today for a day that's separated unto God. The United States is too diverse. Our lives are too busy.

Our economy is too global. Our appetites are too vast. To take one whole day a week and put it aside for God? We could use this day for work. We could use it for play.

We could use this day for power shopping. Not these ladies. Folks, the placing of spices and perfume on the body of Jesus did not add one bit to the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. It did not add anything to the propitiation of Jesus appeasing the wrath of God. It did not add anything to the reality of the resurrection, but it was these ladies' worship. When they came, they took those spices and they laid them in an anointed Jesus for his burial. They were making a statement.

Jesus, we love you and we do this for you to honor you in an act of worship. Years ago, I was preaching a funeral service in a former church and the man who had died was a very godly man. And the funeral director came up to the casket getting ready to get the service started and he was going to take the casket and lower it down and close the casket up. And the man that we were having the funeral for, his granddaughter was there.

She was, I think, eight years old. And when he was going to put the casket top down, she said, wait a minute, wait a minute. And she ran up to the casket. She took three things.

She placed those three things on his chest. And the mother and dad had no idea what this little girl was doing. They got upset and they ran up there and they grabbed her hand. They apologized to the funeral director. They said, we're so sorry for this.

They took the little girl and they went back down. When I got up and got ready to preach, I decided to do something. And so I turned around and I said to the little girl, I said, Susan, what did you put on your grandfather's chest? And she said, I put his New Testament that he used to read to me and teach me about Jesus. And I put a picture of me and I put a love letter that I sent to my grandfather.

That's what I put on his chest. And she just burst into tears. And I said, Susan, listen to me.

Ten years from now, I bet nobody in this room will remember anything I said. But I don't think anybody is going to forget what you did because you honored your grandfather in front of this whole congregation by letting us know how much you loved him. Folks, how important, how gloriously important that is. That's what the women on the cross had done for Jesus.

Their preparation of the body was an act of worshipful agape love. Brothers and sisters, let me tell you something. That matters.

That matters. And maybe you're saying, well, Doug, wait a minute. Wait a minute now. I'm not a preacher. I'm not a missionary. I'm not an evangelist. I'm not a theology professor.

What can I do? You can do exactly what these women did. You can love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And you can sing the great hymn. Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain.

He washed it white as snow. Folks, don't neglect the crucifixion. Don't neglect the resurrection. And don't ever forget about his burial. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, as I studied this passage and focused on the burial of Jesus, I experienced a deep humbling, a breaking of my own pride.

And I know that one of the most blessed ways that you can sanctify us is through God-ordained obliteration of pride. Father, over 250 years ago, John Newton prayed a prayer. May his prayer be my prayer.

May his prayer be the prayer of Grace Church this morning. Newton cried out to you and he said, Lord, give me a humbling sense of my sins. Give me a humbling view of thy glory.

Give me a humbling view of your love, for surely nothing humbles like these. May all my pride spring from ignorance. May I be nothing in my own eyes. May I be willing and desirous to be servant of all. And it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-04 14:39:29 / 2023-06-04 14:52:16 / 13

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