Certain Death (Mark 15:42-27)

Monday, May 11th, 2015
Sermon Series: Led to the Cross, Mark

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Certain Death

The providential burial of Christ, from the gospel of Mark 15:42 to 47

In Houston, Texas, Terry woke up one day, sat down to eat her breakfast, opened her mail and found out she could no longer vote. Why? Because she was dead. This high school nurse tried to call to register her status as very much alive–but after hours and days of being on hold with the election commission, she gave up and remained dead to voting.

But that is not as bad as June. She woke up in a morgue after being pronounced dead by medical professionals. June has a rare condition called cataplexy, and since her first dead end she has been declared dead three times, and woken up in the morgue twice.

Even worse than this was to be buried during the great cholera outbreaks of the 18th century. Many people appeared to have died and were actually buried alive. And it was during this era that the safety coffin was invented. Some of them had air hoses built into them, sometimes a string attached to a finger which was tied to a little bell above ground to alert someone you were not dead but alive. Some had escape hatches, escape ladders, and fireworks attached just in case the so-called dead person was actually still alive.

I share this with you because there are some who say Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, but only fainted or swooned, then was awakened on Sunday and walked away alive, simply because He had not died in the first place. But today in Mark 15, the Bible makes it really clear that Jesus genuinely did die. He did not faint, swoon, pass out or closely resemble death–but the God man physically died. You will discover in Mark 15:42ff that Christ was certainly dead.

Open your Bibles to Mark 15:42 and follow along with your outline. In our study of this great gospel, we’ve been walking through Christ’s final week of ministry. Christ entered Jerusalem on Monday being hailed as King, cleaned out the Temple corruption on Tuesday, took on all the hypocritical challenges on Wednesday, was arrested by the religious leaders on Thursday night, was beaten and tortured all early Friday morning, was crucified by 9 am Friday, bearing sin from noon to 3 and Christ died for the sins of His children by 3 pm.

And today we will see how Joseph of Arimathea asks for His body, and with the help of Nicodemus takes Christ’s body down from the cross and places His body in a tomb before Sabbath begins around 6 pm Friday night. And what you’ll also see in all this is God’s supernatural providence. God’s Word will prove Christ is dead, but you will also see God actively working in all the variables of life to accomplish His specific plan.

Though there are no miracles in our verses today, the events recorded here are definitely supernatural. One commentator says there are two ways God operates supernaturally in the world. One is by miracles. A miracle is God accomplishing His purpose by interrupting, suspending, or overruling the natural order of things.

A miracle is an invasion, interruption, or overturning of what is normal and natural. The natural process is suspended and God injects Himself in a supernatural way that cannot be explained by any normal explanation. Feeding the 5,000, calming the storm, raising the dead are miracles–making true miracles very rare.

The second way God accomplishes His will is non-miraculous, but definitely supernatural. I think it is more supernatural than a miracle, and it is happening around us every single day. It is called providence. Providence describes how God accomplishes exactly what He plans, promises and prophesies without interrupting, without suspending, without overturning the natural course of things.

God accomplishes His will by orchestrating all the free behaviors of people, contingencies, events, actions and reactions to achieve His purposes. In a very real way, providence is a greater display of divine power than a miracle. And though miracles are extremely rare, providence is happening all around us all the time. Providence is God aligning, arranging, and orchestrating everyday events, everyone’s behavior, everybody’s motives, each person’s attitude, and each person’s individual choice to perfectly accomplish His will with His meticulous timing.

Providence is not rare, but constant. And it is God’s providence you’ll see today with the burial of Christ. You’ll see providence in the actions of the soldiers, horrible religious leaders, rich men, secret disciples, and watching women—all of them moved by their own motives and internal choices, yet all of it will accomplish God’s perfect, predicted will.

Now in verses 40 to 41, the women have been watching Joseph take Christ to His tomb. So now we find out what is really motivating Joseph and how his actions prove Christ is dead, but will soon come back to life.

#1  CERTAIN Joseph of Arimathea  Verses 42 to 43

When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath.” Evening had come. When Christ gave up His life and died on the cross, it was 3 pm on Friday afternoon, in April, 30 AD. In John 10 Jesus said, “No one takes My life from Me, I lay it down of Myself.”

But now it’s evening, which is around 6 pm on “preparation day”, describing Friday, getting ready for the Sabbath on Saturday. It’s Good Friday–no work can be done after 6 pm, because sundown on Friday begins the Sabbath. Whatever faithful Jews are going to do with the body of Jesus has got to get done before 6 pm that evening. So whatever is going to happen with the body of Jesus must happen quickly.

Turn to John 19 to see what happens in detail. John 19:30, “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” This is not forced upon Christ, but freely chosen by Him. Revelation 1:18 reminds us Jesus has the keys of death, meaning Jesus Himself brought about His own death, and He did so in an abnormal amount of time. He had been crucified at 9 am in the morning, and He gave up His life at 3 pm in the afternoon.

Typically speaking, victims who’d been crucified would survive on the cross not six hours, but two to three days, and occasionally longer. For Jesus it was six hours. When Jesus gave up His life, the two thieves on each side of Christ were still alive. Verse 32, “So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him.”

Why did they break their legs?  Because the thieves were still alive, and they wanted to hasten their death to get them in the ground before Sabbath starts. But when it came to Jesus, they didn’t break His legs, verse 33, because He was already dead. But the Jews are thinking, “These guys could live for two to three days, so let’s kill them now.” Look at John 19:31, “Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”

The day of preparation is Friday. The Sabbath runs from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. They have to get the bodies off the crosses by Sabbath. And particularly on that Sabbath, the Passover, which was a high holy day.

What’s the hurry? It was against Jewish law to leave a dead body on a tree overnight. Deuteronomy 21:23, “His corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day.” When someone was executed in a capital crime and their body was suspended for people to see throughout the day as a warning, God’s law required that body to be removed before sundown of the day of execution.

Now if somebody didn’t die on a cross, or you wanted to hurry their death on a cross, how would you hasten their death? What they did was called the crucifragium. This is how it worked. A person hanging on a cross, with one foot in front of the other with a nail through both feet, would survive as long as that person could push up with his legs against the nail so that he could receive oxygen into his lungs. Or he could keep breathing if he could pull himself up against the nails through his hands.

When the person could no longer push up with his feet, or pull up via his hands, as excruciating as that was, he would then die from asphyxiation–he’d suffocate. So the means of a very rapid death was to take a massive iron mallet, the crucifragium, and crush the femurs of both legs. The victim would now hang limp, be unable to breathe, and the man would die–partly from shock, partly from blood loss, but mostly from asphyxiation, making this a gruesome death.

Those hateful hypocrites tell Pilate, “We want you to break the legs of all three men, including Jesus.” Verse 32 says, “So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.” Why? Because Jesus was already dead. The Lord chose to give up His own life and willed Himself dead.

We know Christ is certainly dead, because of what happens next in verse 34. “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” This proves with certainty that Christ already chose to die. Under stressful circumstances, the heart can actually burst, causing blood to spill into the pericardium, mixed with lymphatic fluid. Apparently, that’s what happened. Jesus literally willed His own heart to burst.

Maybe you’ve read Psalm 69:20. “Reproach has broken My heart, ruptured My heart.” So Christ gives up His own life in death for our sin, and John wants his readers to know that what he writes here is not only true, but he, John, is an eyewitness of its truth. Verse 35, “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.”

Then John adds in verse 36, the very fact that Christ’s legs were not broken through the crucifragium was predicted in the Old Testament–not just once, but in two different ways. First through the details around the instructions God gave to Moses in Exodus 12 where the Passover Lamb was to have no broken bones. And second through the direct prophecy of David in the Old Testament in Psalm 34:20 which is now quoted in John 19:36, “For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, ‘Not a bone of Him shall be broken.’”

God’s Word is perfectly fulfilled in every detail. And now dramatically John adds another fact, another truth, another fulfilled prophecy in verse 37. “And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.’” Which is to say, the Messiah would also be pierced. The indifferent, neutral, gotta make certain Christ is dead actions of the soldiers in spearing Christ fulfilled a prophecy.

According to scholar Alfred Edersheim, “The soldiers administered what was called the death stroke, which consisted of jabbing a spear into the heart. The reason for adding the death stroke to the crushing of the legs would have been to remove all doubt as to death having occurred. He did not ‘appear’ to die, but actually in His humanness was dead.” (Alfred Edersheim, Vol. 2:612)

The soldiers did not know they were fulfilling prophecy, yet they are divinely directed to do so because it is the perfect fulfillment of God’s providential plan. John explains in verse 37, by spearing Christ, the soldiers fulfill Zechariah 12:10, “They looked on Him whom they pierced.” The soldier already acknowledged Jesus was dead–he had no human reason to administer the death stroke with a spear. But he unwittingly did so in fulfillment of God’s Word. The resulting wound was so deep that Jesus could later tell Thomas to place his hand into it.

Think about providence again. The soldiers, by virtue of their own will, motives, and routines were also under divine control, resulting in the Scripture being authenticated to the letter. The soldiers knew a dead body when they saw one. They were executioners, and with certainty they determined Jesus was dead, and proved it by spearing His side with blood and water gushing out, proving that Jesus was truly dead–which also proves that Jesus really came back to life at His resurrection. These soldiers operate with a measure of freedom, yet they accomplish the will of God.

Now what happens next is amazing–look at John 19:38. A man comes on the scene we’ve never met. And it’s at this point the gospel of John and the gospel of Mark link up to tell us about Joe. “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.”

Now go back to Mark 15:42. “When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath.” Jesus had just died at 3 in the afternoon, back in verse 39–our Lord chose to breathe His last. Then in verse 42, “When evening had already come,” meaning it’s just prior to 6 pm. The three are dead. The thieves had their femurs smashed and suffocated to death in agony. But Jesus was already dead, with blood and water seeping from His side.

Then in verse 43, Joseph of Arimathea came–Joseph was a very common name at the time, and Arimathea is a village difficult to identify. Notice the interesting fact about Joseph in verse 43. “Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council.” Whoa! A prominent member of the Council?  He’s a member of the Sanhedrin. He is so well known all four gospels mention him. It is his only appearance in the Bible, but it’s an amazing story.

I strongly believe it’s a testimony, a true story of salvation, an unexpected conversion to faith in Christ by a member of the Sanhedrin–set against the hate of that Supreme Court, and in contrast to the rejection of the nation. Joining the one thief on the cross, and the hated centurion and some of his men, now is the insider with salvation. A prominent member of the Council. The Greek word prominent has more to do with character than position–he was honest and above reproach.

We don’t know if he was a priest, Sadducee, Pharisee or elder–but he was one of the seventy that constituted the Sanhedrin. All four gospels tell us about Joseph. Luke 23:50 says, “Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man.” Righteous man is the same Greek word used in referring to Jesus as a righteous man. Jesus was righteous by His own righteousness. Joseph was righteous because God made Him righteous. One was righteous by nature, the other was righteous by grace. I believe Joseph was a true believer.

Matthew 27:57 says, “When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.” Joseph was a learner of Christ, a follower of Christ, a believer in Christ. Joseph was probably a true Jew, like Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon who, early in Luke were introduced as believers in the true God. Joseph is like these genuinely saved followers who were waiting for the Messiah to come.

John 19:38, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews.” Joseph was a secret disciple, like a believer in a communist country, for fear of the Jews, particularly the Sanhedrin, of which he was a key member. He had come to believe in Christ, but was not ready to make it known to the Sanherdrin–until this moment, until now. Now everyone would know–including the Sanhedrin.

Notice what Mark says about Joseph in verse 43, “Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” Joseph came to believe Jesus was the one they were looking for, Jesus was the one promised.

I love how Mark says it in verse 43, “who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.” He was waiting for the Kingdom of God. That’s a true Jew, who understands the Old Testament promise of salvation—“and was waiting for the Kingdom to come.” Joseph had come to the conviction the Kingdom had come, because the King had arrived, and the King was no other than Jesus.

And Joseph understood the price if he acknowledged this publicly. So at first he’s kept it quiet. However Luke 23:51 tells us, “(he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God.” Possibly when the Sanhedrin met in the middle of the night and condemned Christ early Friday AM, Joseph probably wasn’t there. They had a quorum–they accomplished what they wanted to. They sentenced Jesus to death for blasphemy. But Joseph had not consented to it. Either Joseph was there but didn’t consent, or Joseph was absent. I think he was left out, not told, purposely worked around. Joseph and possibly Nicodemus were the only two dissenting members.

Can you imagine the kind of a week Joseph had? When Jesus came into the city on Monday, he’d have been thrilled. And when Jesus cleansed the temple on Tuesday, he’d love that. Then as Jesus was teaching the truth in the Temple on Wednesday, he would have been ecstatic. But then on Thursday night when it all went bad, and Christ ended up on a cross and dies–can you feel Joseph’s pain? “I thought He was the King. I thought this was the Kingdom.” Joseph was heartbroken–he thought Christ would be the one to usher in all the Old Testament promises.

But Joseph loves Jesus regardless, even when all hope is gone. Out of a new heart filled with compassion, now Joseph is willing to publicly acknowledge he is a disciple of Jesus. Again, verse 43b, “and he gathered up courage.” The Greek verb for courage means to dare or to risk. Why does Joseph work up the risk? Because he knew he was going to be seen.

The Sanhedrin would see him. This is a small area, and the religious leaders are talking to Pilate about killing the men on the crosses in order to get them down before the beginning of the Sabbath. Joseph knew they’d know, so he gathered up the courage to be exposed to the Sanhedrin, because Joseph’s actions will have consequences–expelled, shamed, marked, loss of popularity or worse.

In addition, Joseph would himself be dressing a corpse during the hours of preparation for the Sabbath, and would be himself ceremonially defiled. This was a huge act of courage. It was even more elevated, because there was absolutely nothing in it for Joseph. Jesus was dead. The dream was over.

Plus Joseph had to work up the courage to face Pilate, since Pilate is not pleased with the Sanhedrin for forcing him to crucify Jesus. Joseph is a part of the Sanhedrin, so facing Pilate himself is a risk. Yet verse 43c, he “went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” And he “asked for the body of Jesus,” which is very sad–why? Because the women are afraid, the disciples have fled, the family members are most likely not in town–so there is no one willing to stand up for Christ and ask for His body.

The Romans would give the Lord’s body to His family or a friend. But if no one asked for His body, then Christ’s body would be treated like a criminal and disposed in the Hinnom Valley, where the city dump was located. The refuse there was continually being burned, the fire never went out, which made this dump the biblical image of Hell, ge-hinnom. So if no one claimed the Lord’s body, then Christ’s body would be thrown into the city dump to be burned. Thankfully Joseph steps up and asks for His body–which is yet another confirmation that Christ is genuinely dead. Which brings us to . . .

#2  CERTAIN Pilate  Verse 44

Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead.” Pilate is surprised, not at Joseph’s request, but at the quickness of the Lord’s death. Normally crucifixion was such a lengthy torture, it’d take a victim a couple of days to die. So after six hours, Pilate was astonished. The Greek verb wondered is literally surprised–how Christ could be dead by this time. So Pilate called the centurion to verify the Lord’s death, in order to be certain. Leading to . . .

#3  CERTAIN Centurion  Verse 45

And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.” The Greek word for body here is the Greek word for corpse. Romans had no respect for the corpses–they were often thrown into an open grave for scavenger animals to feast upon, or to be burned in the garbage dump of the Hinnom Valley. Once again Scripture is affirming–Jesus really was dead.

By Pilate having his centurion check on the death of Christ, we have official Roman confirmation of the Lord’s death. The Lord experienced the death stroke–He’s certainly dead. So Pilate gifts the body of Christ to Joseph. But someone else is also involved in the burial of Christ.

#4  CERTAIN Nicodemus

Go back to John 19:38, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.” Pilate granted permission, so Joe came and took away His body.

But in verse 39 Nicodemus–remember him? Yea–the one who came to Jesus by night and had the discussion about being born again. “Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.” That weight of spices would be literally fit for a King. The myrrh and aloes were both drawn from plants, and were aromatic to mitigate the stench of a decomposing body. They made a dead corpse smell better.

They took the body of Jesus in verse 40, “So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” Nicodemus brought spices, and Joe brought linen. The Jews buried people uniquely. They didn’t embalm them. They didn’t do anything internal–they didn’t mess with organs at all. They just wrapped strips around the body, then they put on spices, nice smelling spices, then covered the body with more linen.

Wow–not only has Joseph declared himself, but so has Nicodemus. Regardless of the cost, regardless of the hostility against them, regardless of how this would punish their families–and history tells us they and their families paid the awful price of persecution, rejection and starvation poverty. But what they lost was nothing compared to what they gained. You will see both of these men in heaven, full of joy.

So now one thief was saved, a centurion and some of his men, a Sanhedrin member, and now the best Bible teacher in Israel. Somewhere between John 3 and John 19, Nic was born again. Joseph had help–Nicodemus, another prominent Pharisee joined Joseph at the tomb. Together they prepared Jesus for His burial.

#5  CERTAIN Burial  Verse 46A

Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth.” Mark paints this scene vividly by showing five distinct actions. He 1) “bought a linen cloth,” 2) “took Him down”–wow, that is moving, 3) “wrapped Him in the linen sheet,” 4) laid Him in a tomb, 5) and rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb (Luke 23:53).

They laid Jesus in Joseph’s family tomb that had never been used. Joseph of Arimathea steps in and fulfills yet another prophecy. Isaiah 53:9, we have one of the most beautiful fulfillments of our Lord’s suffering and death, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death.” This is amazing–the Holy Spirit tells us even though His grave was assigned to wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death!

Normally a close relative would ask for the body, but with Christ it was not a relative, nor a disciple, but a wealthy man, so that Scripture might be fulfilled exactly. None of these characters, from the soldiers to the bystanders, from Pilate to the Jewish leaders were aware they were providentially fulfilling prophecy in perfect detail.

Verse 46b, they laid Him in Joseph’s own tomb, which had been hewn out in the rock. The tomb was near Golgotha, near a garden. A tomb hewn out of rock would have a number of shelves in it. How they did it in the first century was to put a body on a shelf. Then when the body decomposed down to the bones, they’d collect the bones, put them in a box called an ossuary, and place that ossuary somewhere else. Then they’d put the next relative who died on the same shelf. That’s how they did it.

So Joseph takes Christ down from the cross–how moving was that? Then takes the Lord’s body to his nearby brand new tomb. First century readers would know that burying Christ in an unused tomb would be how you’d bury a king. Joe then places Jesus inside. Nicodemus joins him, and together they quickly prepare the body of Christ. Then at the end of verse 46b, “and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”

They seal Christ in the tomb early Friday evening. Grave robbing was big in Jesus’ day. Thieves would break into tombs in order to steal valuables people buried with loved ones. Christ’s tomb would’ve been a big disappointment to a thief, but they would not know that, so Joseph seals Christ in the tomb.

These two men gave Christ the most loving and honorable burial they could offer their Lord. Maybe Joseph felt guilt for not openly confessing Christ before, but now Joseph is openly embracing Christ in His death.  And only these two men came to the Lord’s funeral. No hymn was sung. No prayer was prayed. No sermon was preached. He was placed in the grave, and the stone was rolled across the front.

Joseph and Nicodemus are doing what they want to do for Christ, but in the end they are providentially fulfilling God’s will. It’s not merely about an honorable burial for Christ. It’s about getting Christ off the cross, in the grave on Friday, so that He’s in the tomb Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, because He promised He’d be three days in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 12:40, “The Son of Man will be three days, three nights”–and a day and a night is simply a Jewish way to refer to any part of a 24-hour period. He will be in the tomb for three days. That meant Jesus had to be buried before the Sabbath began at sundown Friday. We don’t know if Joseph knew Jesus had promised He’d be three days and three nights in the earth. Joseph was acting on his own.

So in verse 46, Joseph was given permission to take Jesus down from the cross. John 19:38 says, “So he came and took away His body.” After taking Him down, cleaning off the blood, the sweat and the dirt with Nicodemus’s help, he wrapped Jesus in linen clothes, added spices, and laid Him in an unused tomb like a King, leading us to . . .

#6  CERTAIN Women  Verse 47

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid.” These two special women were at His death in verses 40 to 41, and now they are at His burial here. And they will be the first to witness His resurrection (in chapter 16:1 to 8). Why did they follow? Obviously they loved Christ and they wanted to see what was happening–they’re wonderful women!

They watched everything these men did. They followed them and observed them as they prepared the body for burial. They didn’t want to be outdone by these men. Mark doesn’t tell us any more than, they watched. But Luke 23:56 says these women “returned to their homes and prepared spices”—their own spices for our Lord. They weren’t going to be outdone by a couple of strangers. They too wanted to show their love for Jesus.

So for the last couple of hours on that Friday, they’re back home, or wherever they were staying, mixing spices in order to bring those spices back to the tomb on Sunday. They couldn’t come back on the Sabbath–it was forbidden. The Sabbath was a day when you couldn’t go places or do work. But they were back early Sunday morning, according to Luke 24:1, with their spices. And were they in for a surprise when they arrived—spicey.

Luke 23:56, “Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” These women were eyewitnesses that Christ died on the cross. They too were certain Christ was dead and now buried. Later they’ll be certain Christ was raised from the dead. They saw Him die, they saw Him buried, and they saw the empty tomb.

His death is finished-our Lord has been crucified, speared and buried. The rock has been rolled against the tomb. But we know the story does not end in the tomb. Jesus rises from the dead in chapter 16, three days–for us in three weeks. In many respects this is the darkest moment in the whole gospel. Yet it is part of the greatest moment in the history of the world.

Mark is trying to make it very clear to his readers. Jesus really did die–He told us in advance He’d die. It is certain. Mark 8:31, “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must . . . be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 9:31, “When He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” Mark 10:33,”The Son of Man . . . they will . . . kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

In the second century, various Gnostic groups claimed Jesus only appeared to suffer and die. One said He switched places with Simon of Cyrene, and that it was Simon who was crucified (Ireneus, Against Heresies).

Others suggested Jesus did not actually die, but only swooned on the cross and later revived in the cool tomb. Mark’s account destroys those theories as dead wrong–certainly wrong. One commentator says, “It is worth recalling that the Romans crucified thousands of individuals during their centuries in power, not one of whom is recorded as surviving the cross. This grim fact is proof positive that chapter 16 is not about resuscitation, but about a resurrection from the dead.” Joseph, Pilate, the centurion, and the women were certain–without a doubt, they declare our Lord died on the cross.

Jesus paid the wages of sin. Jesus died in our place. The Lord took our punishment–that is the Gospel. Read aloud with me 1 Corinthians 15:3 to 4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried.” First Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order to bring us to God.” Let’s pray.

1  Friend, turn from your sin and depend on Christ alone. If you are truly saved, you will follow Christ and obey His Word. That means you will want to come to church, give, be interconnected to God’s people, and share the Gospel.

2  If you’re a secret disciple, you’ll not be one forever, or you never were a disciple in the first place. Are you a true Christian?

3  Christian, celebrate God’s providence in all of life–to work through all relationships, circumstances and events to accomplish His will. Christ is manifesting His supernatural power and wisdom around you daily. Don’t be looking for miracles when His providence is working 24/7 to bring about His glory and your good. Recognize and celebrate His constant care for you as His child.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church – Murrieta.

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