This morning we’re going to concentrate our thoughts upon the death and resurrection of our Lord. To begin with, I’d ask you to take your Bible and look at John chapter 10, John chapter 10, and we’re going to just simply look at one theme as it weaves it’s way through the events of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are so many things that need to be said about this and things which we do not have the time to say, and yet we believe God has drawn us down to one thought that can be expanded in many dimensions for our understanding and edification this morning.
John chapter 10, verse 17; our Lord is speaking and this is what he says: “Therefore doth My Father love Me because I lay down My life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.”
Now here our Lord Jesus Christ is saying that He has the power to take His own life: that is He has the power of death, He has the power to take it back again, He has the power of resurrection. Now this is a monumental claim. Death victimizes everybody, and I think that the greatest fear in the element of death is the fear of the unknown aspect of it. It isn’t so much the dying that bothers people as the not knowing when or how you’re going to die. In fact, I was recently reading about suicide, and there was a survey done on some suicides, and they determined that frequently people kill themselves out of the fear of death. Now that may sound strange, but it is the fear of an unknowing death, an unexpected death, a surprise death, a method or a way that they would not prefer to die, so they choose to take their own life to remove that foreboding fear. But Jesus controlled death for His own good, and His own end, and for your good. And in the case of a Christian, He controls our destiny, including our death and resurrection to life with Him.
This just brings to mind one very important thought that permeates the story of Easter and it is this: no one killed Jesus. People have for centuries argued about who killed Jesus, and the Jewish leaders primarily had been blamed, and rightly so because they are culpable. They deserve some blame. It was their particular plot, and their particular charges, and their blackmailing of Pilate that forced the issue in the first place. And others would like to blame the Romans; and certainly the Romans have some blame, because at least those in leadership in Jerusalem set aside what was normal justice to appease an angry crowd, and they went ahead and executed an innocent man. And so they have to bear some of the blame.
But when you get right down to it, if you want to know who’s to blame for the death of Jesus, all you need to do is listen to Peter in Acts 2:23. Peter lays the blame right where it belongs: “You men of Israel, here this words. Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you as you yourselves also know,” – and he’s just saying this is Jesus who has been accredited to you – “Him being delivered” – that is to death – “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of” – whom? – “God.”
Who was it ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus Christ? It wasn’t the Jews, and it wasn’t the Romans, although they bear guilt for the actual execution and for the sin involved. It was God. It was God who destined it, God who determined it, God who laid it out, God who planned it. And Jesus in an act of submissive obedience as a son to a father’s will, carried out the eternal plan, laid down His life, and took it again.
People, don’t you ever think for a minute that Jesus was a victim of anybody. Don’t you even think that anybody could kill Him, because they could not kill Him. Jesus even said to Pilate, “You wouldn’t have any power over Me if it wasn’t given to you by God.” There was no way Jesus would have died had He not willed to die. On many previous occasions He had passed out of their midst when they had tried to kill Him, because His hour was not yet come – not their hour, His hour.
In John chapter 19, and verse 30 - and you can stay there because that’s what we’re going to study - John chapter 19, verse 30. It says, “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine” – or vinegar – “He said, ‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head and gave up the spirit.” Nobody took it, He gave it. Nobody killed Jesus, He yielded His life. He was never a victim but only a victor.
In 2 Timothy chapter 1 it tells us that He took it again. Not only did He give His life, but He took life again. It says, “Jesus Christ has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” So Christ is the master of death, even His own dying, the master of life, even His own resurrection. And when you look at the account of John 19 and 20, what just dominates your thought is the fact that Jesus was in control of every single thing that was going on. Never for one split second was He out of control. Never was He victimized, and He did it all for us.
Now as we look at John’s record of the crucifixion and resurrection, because John’s purpose is always to present the deity of Christ, we don’t see nearly so much emphasis on the pain, nearly so much emphasis on the suffering as we do an emphasis upon the majesty of Jesus. The overriding deity of Jesus just supersedes any other consideration as we view these passages here. And I want to show you just three simple aspects: His dying, His burial, and His resurrection. And in each of those three His absolute power to lay down His life and take it again is made manifest. He is totally in control.
Look at verse 16 and let’s consider His dying. Notice how Jesus was in total control of His own death insofar as prophecy was fulfilled, and every necessary element fell into place. Verse 16: “Then delivered he Him therefore on to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led Him away, and He bearing His cross went forth into a place called a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha, where they crucified Him and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.”
Now stop there for a moment. We see here in those simple three verses fulfilled prophecy that is staggering in it’s accurateness. Look, for example, at verse 16: “Then delivered he Him unto them to be crucified, and they took Jesus and led Him away.” It seems a small thing to say they led Him away, but it isn’t a small thing. Jesus did not have to be driven, Jesus went willingly. He followed them to the cross, and rightly so, because Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.” He was led, not like cattle that are driven. Sheep are led. Jesus was a sheep. The final sacrificial lamb for all the sins of all the ages, and He was led because that’s what Isaiah said a sheep does. He follows.
Further notice in verse 16: “Then delivered He him” – skipping a few words – “to be crucified.” And you’ll notice that this precedes immediately His mockery of a trial. Now Roman law said that when a person is tried, there is a two-day period before he can be executed. They have to wait two days in case there would be any further evidence, in case there would be anything that the gentleman or the person being executed would need to take care of in the intervening time. But in the case of Jesus they tried Him in the morning, and He was on the cross before afternoon.
Why the hurry? Why the rush? I’ll tell you why. Because Isaiah 53:8 said that’s the way it would happen. Isaiah 53:8 says, “He was taken” – and implied there is to His death. “He was taken to His death from prison and from trial.” Isaiah said He would go from prison and trial to execution, and he didn’t see anything intervening, and that’s exactly the way it happened. Jesus was controlling the process of Roman jurisprudence so that it even violated one of its own rules, because that’s what Isaiah said would happen. He went [A1] from Gabbatha, the pavement, the place of his trial, to Golgotha, the cross, the place of his death.
Notice again, verse 17: “And He bearing His Cross.” Jesus carried at least the crosspiece of His cross, if not perhaps all of it; and that fulfills a typical picture in Genesis 22:6 where you have a type of Christ. A type is a prophetic picture rather than a prophetic statement. And Isaac was a picture of Christ. Isaac was to be offered as a sacrifice, and in Genesis 22:6 it says, “And Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son,” so that Isaac went right up Mount Mariah carrying the wood that was to be used in his execution. And so Jesus carried His own wood. So Jesus bore His own cross in a perfect fulfillment of that one who was a picture of Him to come.
Further look at verse 17: “And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called a skull, the Hebrew term Golgotha.” You say, “Is that significant prophetically?” Yes, He went forth. What does ‘went forth’ mean? It means He went outside the city walls. Why did He go outside the city walls? He went outside the city walls, because that was Roman law, and Roman law said no one can be crucified inside the city. And the Roman law had that prescription, and they followed through. They had a place outside the wall, the hill of the skull, and it was called that because its shape resembled a skull. And He was taken there which was the normal place for execution, to be crucified.
Now what is interesting is in Exodus 29:14. It says, “The flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shall thou burn with fire outside the camp:” - why? – “it is a sin offering.” Way back in Exodus, when God instituted the offerings for sin, He said they are to be taken outside the camp.
And Jesus died outside the city as the perfect sin offering. He fulfilled the picture of the sin offering of the Old Testament to the letter. The Romans didn’t have anything to do with that. They had no concept of that when they made their rules, but they made them nonetheless, because God knew that sometime there was coming a Messiah who wanted to fulfill that picture, and He did.
Further it says they crucified him in verse 16, delivered to be crucified. Verse 18, they crucified him. Well that’s another exact fulfillment. No way would that have been anticipated. The Jews did not crucify people. The Jews stoned people, and there was a place in Jerusalem called Beth HaSeqilah, which is a place of execution. Historians tell us there was an eleven-foot drop, and below there was a flat area, and the body of the person to be stoned was thrown off the edge, the eleven-foot edge. He would hit, be stunned, and then immediately the first witness who accused him would drop the first rock aiming at his head. The second accusation would be brought forth, and that speaker would drop the next rock. Then the crowd would join in until he was dead, and that was the Jewish manner of execution. But this one was to be crucified. That was a Roman way to die, and it wasn’t even historically connected to Judaism.
You say, but what does that fulfill? Back in Numbers chapter 21, verses 6 to 9 tell us that when Israel was bitten by snakes, God said, “You raise up a serpent on a rod, and anybody who looks up and sees the serpent on the rod will be healed.” And Moses made a brass or bronze serpent on a rod in the midst of the camp, and when anybody looked they were healed. And Jesus said in John 3:14, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so shall the Son of Man be lifted up.” Jesus said, “Just like Moses lifted that rod in the wilderness, that’s the way I’m going to die. That’s the way I’m going to be lifted up.” And indeed when He died, He was lifted on a Cross. Totally foreign to the Jewish mind, and yet that’s exactly what the prophecy indicated.
Further, Deuteronomy 21:23 said, “Cursed is anybody that hangs on a tree.” And Jesus bore the curse of all time, and consequently He was hanged on a tree, fulfilling to a letter again the prophecy. There He hangs on the cross dying from severe inflammation, swelling of the wounds, unbearable pain from torn tendons, agony by the horrible weight of his body held only by those wounds, suffocating by the rearrangement of his internal organs with a throbbing head and a burning thirst. He hangs on the cross. He looks for all intents and purposes like the victim, but He is not the victim. He is ordering every detail of His own execution to fulfill the design and the plan that He laid down in eternity. He’s the master controller of every event.
Notice further in verse 17 – pardon me, verse 18. “They crucified Him and two others with Him on either side one, and Jesus in the center.” You say, is it significant that He died with two criminals? Yes it’s significant. Isaiah 53:12 says, “He is numbered with the transgressors in His death.” When He dies it will be with criminals. It will be with sinners that He dies, and He did. He arranged for that as well to occur.
Look at verse 23: “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts.” History tells us there were customarily four soldiers responsible in a crucifixion, and they would divide the four things that the person would normally have: shoes, a belt, a headpiece, and an outer cloak. And they did that; they divided them. But there was also an undercoat that was seamless, and they did not want to tear it. Verse 24 says, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it. Let’s not tear this up. We’ll throw the dice and see who wins it.”
Here were these witless, godless, callous executioners, having finished their bloody work, doing what they always did, simply going through the motions of dividing up the dead man’s clothes. Little did they realize that they were responsible for fulfilling the scripture to the very letter. Psalm 22:18 said, “They part My garments among them, and they cast lots for My cloak.” They fulfilled a prophecy to the letter, a prophecy they never even conceived of, a prophecy they never even knew existed. But Jesus made sure every detail was fulfilled.
Verse 24 ends this way. Why did they do it? Why did they do this? “That the scripture might be fulfilled, which says” – and he quotes Psalm 22:18 – ‘They parted my raiment among them, and for my cloak or vesture they cast lots.’” These things therefore the soldiers did. Why? Because the prophecy said it, and they were witlessly fulfilling God’s prophecy. According to Canon Liddon there are 332 prophecies fulfilled explicitly in Jesus Christ, 332. The probability of that happening is 1 in 84 with 100 zeros, and yet it happened.
Look at verse 19: “And Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross, and the writing was ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’” You say, “What was Pilate saying here? Did he believe that?” Not for a minute. Why did he do it? Because he wanted to mock the Jews. It was blatant sarcasm. “Look, you Jews, here’s your king: Jesus of Nazareth!” - and Nazareth was a despised place - “the King of the Jews! That’s the kind of king you deserve: a bloody one hanging on a cross with a couple of common criminals.”
You see, Pilate had been cornered and devastated by the blackmail of the Jews, and he was lashing out at them in a desperation, an attempt to gain some sense of sanity and equilibrium, and so he put that sarcastic sign up there. There was supposed to be, you see, the crime on that sign, but there was no crime. And so he just used it to mock the Jews, and they were furious.
“The title” - verse 20 says - “read many of the Jews; for the place where Jesus was crucified was near to the city, and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin” – anybody could read it. “So the chief priest of the Jews came to Pilate and said, ‘Write not, “The King of the Jews”; but he said “I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written. I’m not changing it for anything.’”
That was a blow on the Jews from Pilate. Stupid Pilate. Coward Pilate. In a panicky attempt to gain some revenge, slammed a sign on that cross that was sarcasm in his mind; but for all ages, it was the truth, right? And he made a statement of the majesty of the Son of God that the world has never been able to forget or ignore. Do you see how Jesus even controlled what was on the sign above His head? He took the stupidity of a man like Pilate and made him speak the truth.
Further, look at verse 25. And here you see the majesty of Jesus and the absolute control that He exerts in this time: hanging there bleeding as He is, hanging there suffering agony, the agony of sin. And the death, you see, was the end of the suffering. His suffering was up until His death. Now while hanging alive, He is bearing sin. This is the anguish.
In the midst of it all, look what He does in verse 25: “There stood by the cross of Jesus His mother” – that’s Mary. Mary by now knows what’s Simeon meant when 30 years before, Simeon had said her heart would be pierced through with a sword; and it is being as she watches her beloved Son and Savior – “and Mary’s sister” – and that likely is Salome who is the mother of James and John – “and Mary the wife of Clopas” – perhaps her sister-in-law – “and Mary Magdalene.” Do you notice that everybody who’s named there has the same name, Mary? You know what Mary means? It means bitterness, bitterness. It was bitter for all of them.
And there was one other there. “When Jesus therefore saw His mother and the disciple standing by whom He loved” – who’s that? John. All those great big virile he-men types among the disciples long gone. One of them stayed, only one. The rest scattered. Zechariah said, “When the shepherd is smitten, the sheep will be scattered,” and they were. They all forsook Him and fled except for one, gentle John, and four women.
Four women and John had more courage than all the other men. They’re there; He’s not really all alone. And He doesn’t ask them for sympathy. He doesn’t say, “Could you do this for Me?” or, “Do that for Me?” or, “Do you see how I’m suffering? Can you see My pain?”
Notice what happens in verse 26: “Jesus saw His mother and the disciple standing by whom He loved. He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold they son!’” And I heard on the radio Friday as I was driving, I was listening to a Good Friday service, and someone was preaching on that text, and they said that Jesus was saying, “Mother, look at Me! See what I’m suffering. See My pain.” That isn’t what He was saying at all.
The longer I listened, the more angry I became. If you’re going to preach at least find out what it means. He is not calling attention to Himself. He’s saying, “Mother, look at John. He’s your son now.” And then in verse 27, He said to John, “John, look at your mother.” You see what He was doing? John was brokenhearted, Mary was brokenhearted, so He gave them to each other. He isn’t asking to look at Him. He’s saying, “John, take care of My mother. Mother, take care of John.” These two brokenhearted people apparently were the most anguished of all, and so He gave them to each other.
Now I tell you, when I read things like that, I know something of the majesty of Jesus. He was so in control. He was detached in the sense from His own pain, so much so that He could take care of the needs of those He loved. And don’t forget that on the cross He also wrapped His arms around the thief who was there and took him to paradise. Don’t you think for a minute He was a victim. He controlled everything, everything about His death.
Notice verse 28: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst.’” Oh, this is so beautiful. He’s right on schedule. It says Jesus knew everything was done. Every prophecy had been fulfilled, every detail to the letter. Everything was in place. His omniscience had provided all that understanding. He knew the plan. The plan was done. The plan was fulfilled. Satan was defeated. Sin was put out of the way. Death was conquered. The price of God’s justice was compensated. Everything was finished, was done.
Only one small prophecy remained. Psalm 69:21 said about Him and His death: “In My thirst, they gave Me vinegar to drink.” So at the end of verse 28, He says, “I thirst,” and he reaches back and grabs the one unfulfilled prophecy in order that the scripture might be fulfilled. “He said, ‘I thirst.’ And there was set a vessel full of sour wine. They filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop” – that’s a long reed – “held it up to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished,’ bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.”
You say, “How did Jesus die? Did He bleed to death?” No, because later when they pierced His side, the blood was still there. How did He die? I’ll tell you how He died. He died because He willed Himself to die. He yielded His life; He gave it up. And what He said at the end was not, “I’m finished.” No. He said what? “It is finished.”
He bowed His head, no slump to the side. The Greek seems to indicate that He actually pushed His head forward and willfully yielded His spirit. He was in control of death. The nails didn’t kill Him. The blood loss didn’t kill Him. The exposure didn’t kill Him. He gave His life.
When they came by to check and make sure about it, to break His legs, they didn’t break His legs, because - what? - He was already dead. Why was He already dead? Why did He die so soon? Because He wanted the world to know that He wasn’t a victim.
Do you know something? Do you know that Jesus died amazingly soon for somebody crucified? Sooner than the thieves; and undoubtedly He was stronger than they with that sinless body that He had had up to this point. He must have been a man among men, and yet He died before the two thieves, because they broke their legs.
So why did He die so soon? He died so soon because He was done bearing sin, and He willed Himself dead. He had power over death. He died about 3:00 on the same day He was crucified in the morning, and some people lived two to three days and more when they were crucified. Jesus commanded death when He wanted it.
Now notice something else. Verse 31: “The Jews therefore because it was the preparation” – that is the day before the Sabbath – “that the body should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was a high day,) – this was a special, super special Sabbath; it was Passover Sabbath – “besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers and broke the legs of the first and the other who was crucified with Him; but when they came to Jesus and saw He was dead already, they broke not His legs.”
Now watch. The Jews had a very, very great concern. According to Deuteronomy chapter 21, verses 22 and 23, they couldn’t leave that dead body exposed on the Sabbath. So they wanted Pilate to get that body off the cross before 6:00 in the evening, before the sun went down, because they didn’t want to defile the Sabbath. Can you believe it? The hypocrisy of wanting to maintain the Sabbath while you’ve just killed the Lord of the Sabbath. But that’s what they were doing.
“Pilate, would you send your soldiers to break” – and the word for “break” in the Greek means to shiver to pieces. And they took a large mallet, sort of like a sledgehammer, and they devastated the legs until they were crushed and limp; and the body would then slouch and suffocate it’s internal organs, and death would come immediately. “Get them dead so we can get them down before we desecrate the Sabbath.” Incredible! And so the soldiers did do that, and Pilate said, “All right.” They came to Jesus and He was already dead. Why? He wanted the world to know for all time that nobody took His life, He gave it. And they didn’t break His legs.
But just to be sure, verse 34, “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side. There came out blood and water” – serum and blood. You say, “What does that mean?” There are so many medical analyses of that; I’m not even going to try to get into it, because I don’t know anything about it. I’ve read every possible medical analysis and find so much diverges. But let me just give you what I feel might have happened, very simply.
In the first place, “Pilate marveled that he was dead already,” according to Mark 15:44. Pilate was absolutely amazed that He died so soon. He had fulfilled the prophecy in keeping all His bones and not one of them broken, because Psalm 34:20 said, “Not a bone of His body was broken.” Psalmist has predicted it, and it’s exactly what happened. He was already dead.
How did He die? Well, the releasing of blood and water could be several things. It’s simply the fact that blood separates after it sits for a while into a clear element and a dark element, and it may had been that that just flowed out. Others say that around the heart there’s a pericardium, a sack around the heart. And between the pericardium and the heart muscle there exists a fluid, and when the side was pierced those two fluids of blood and serum mixed in flowing out. There are other explanations that have been given.
You say, “Well, what would the Bible tell us?” Well, the only thing the Scripture even begins to say is in Psalm 69. Psalm 69 is describing the crucifixion, because it also talks about His thirst and His vinegar in verse 21. And in verse 20 it says this. Now listen: “Reproach” – or sin – “has broken My heart.” When anybody asks me how Jesus died, I simply say in the simplest terms He died of a broken heart.
If you want to get medical about it, maybe His heart ruptured. Stuart Bergsma of Grand Rapids, Michigan, said, “It is extremely rare, well-nigh impossible, for the normal heart to rupture.” But he went on to hypothesize that perhaps Christ, suffering as no man has ever suffered in history, experienced a ruptured heart. Somehow the weight of sin on the human body – you know something? The weight of your own sin on your body is going to kill you someday. Do you know that? “It’s appointed unto man once to” - what? – “die.”
We’re all going to do it, unless the Lord raptures us. The wages of sin is death, it’s built in. Listen to this. the spiritual reality of sin has physical consequence, right, and it just might be that the spiritual weight of all the sins of all the people of all the ages resting on one human body was too much; and physically, His heart couldn’t handle it. That’s a possibility.
But He was dead. When He willed His heart to cease, it ceased. You know, in a sense He died physically that way. He died when His spirit, in a second way, left His body. And, thirdly, He died in a spiritual way when He was separated from God and said, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me?” All that simultaneously occurring, and yet He was in control of everything.
Even after He was dead, He made sure they didn’t break His legs, because verse 35, “and he that saw it bore witness, and his witness is true. And he knows that he says true that you might believe; for these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled.” Psalm 34:20, “A bone of Him shall not be broken.” And, again, another scripture, Zechariah 12:10, “They shall look on Him whom they have” – what? – “pierced.” Why didn’t they break His legs? Why did they pierce Him? Because that’s what the prophets said they would do; and he made sure they did it.
Second, look at His burial. If you think it’s amazing that He controlled His death – and it is – look at His burial in verse 38: “And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews” – and incidentally Joseph of Arimathea we know from the other gospels was a very wealthy man, was a member of the Sanhedrin, so he voted on the execution of Christ, very likely voted no; was a believer, but a secret believer. Now all of a sudden, he goes to Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore and took the body of Jesus.”
Now Jesus is already dead. Three o’clock in the afternoon: got to get Him in the ground, got to get Him in the ground quickly before the Sabbath. The Jews are worried about that. But let me tell you something else. God wants Him in the ground before the Sabbath, because He has to be in the grave part of Friday, so that He can be dead for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And beloved if you’re worried about three days and three nights, don’t worry about it. That’s a Hebraism that refers to any given part of the day. So if He was dead any part of Friday, Saturday, Sunday; that constitutes three days and three nights in the Hebrew terminology. And so He had to be in that grave before Saturday began, and the Hebrew day begins in the evening when the sun goes down. So they were in a hurry to get Him there, because they didn’t want to desecrate the Sabbath; and He was in a hurry to get Himself there, because that’s what He said He would do.
And, you know, He picks the most unlikely guy, a secret disciple who hasn’t said peep about what he believes. Joseph of Arimathea has been stealing around in the background. All of a sudden he comes to the front, and it tells us in the gospel of Mark chapter 15, verse 43, that, “Joseph of Arimathea went boldly to Pilate.” What happened to change him? He would have been immediately excommunicated out of the Sanhedrin. He would have lost his reputation, his riches, and so forth. He was a wise man apparently, a devout man, a counselor, a righteous man in Jewish terms. And now he’s going to lose everything that he has in his society and claim to identify with Christ, and he does it boldly.
Why? Why this man? I’ll tell you why. Because he had a tomb right near where the cross was, and he could get Him in there in a hurry, so they wouldn’t have to miss the time limit. He was rich, and he had to be a rich man. Isaiah 53:9 said, “He will make His grave with the rich.” He had to be a rich man. He had to have a grave right in the right spot to get Him there quick. He did. And I[A2] believe he had to have a grave that had never been occupied so there wouldn’t be any confusion later on. Perfect man; secret disciple. Jesus, while He was dead, worked on him and got him to do it.
Verse 39. Here comes another sneaky one: “There came Nicodemus who at the first came to Jesus by night,” – he was also a little clandestine about the whole thing, but now he comes to the front – “and he is bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes a hundred pounds weight.” That’s about 72 pounds. Myrrh is a liquid. Aloes are a powder. They’re spices, aromatic spices used to sprinkle a body; and that many pounds would only be used in the burial of a king. Isn’t that beautiful? And here came Nicodemus, who only came by night before this, identifying with Christ.
How come these two secret people come to the front? Oh, this is important. Nicodemus was “the” teacher in Israel, and here is the teacher in Israel saying to all people for all time, “This is the Christ.”
“They took the body,” – verse 40 – “wound it with linen clothes with the spices, and that’s the manner the Jews use to bury. In the place where He was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, in which never a man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day.” They got him there on the preparation, the day before the Sabbath, Friday, for the sepulchre was close by.” See? All the details of His own burial. Listen to me: once you die, you won’t have anything to do with it. Jesus controlled every detail. Yes, His death and His burial prove to me that He is right when He said, “I have power to lay it down and take it again.”
Let’s go to that third, His resurrection, chapter 20. Watch: “First day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” Dear Mary Magdalene’s going to come down and finish anointing Him, because they had to get Him in in a hurry. “And she sees that the thing is open, and she runs and comes to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved” – that’s John – “and says, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they’ve laid Him. Somebody stole the Lord.” Great faith. Great faith.
“Peter therefore went forth” – Peter spent a lot of time doing that just surging, you know – “and the other disciple, and they came to the sepulchre, and they ran together,” – they just took off, ran into that place - “and the other disciple did outrun Peter and came first to the sepulchre.” But John was very gentle, and John was very timorous, and John got there in verse 5, “And stooping down, looked in” – a little concerned – “saw the linen clothes lying, yet he did not go in. Then comes Simon Peter” – thundering about 15 feet to the rear – “following him and went into the sepulchre,” – just blew right by John right on in – “and saw the linen clothes lying there,” – the linen clothes lying there – “and the cloth that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together at a place by itself.” Here are the clothes lying there, just in the form they were left. Here’s the napkin folded gently and sitting right at the head.
What does that mean? If somebody had stolen the body, they wouldn’t have bothered to hang around the tomb long enough to unwrap it; and if they had, they certainly would have bothered to fold them all nicely and lay them in the proper place. Jesus just came right out of them. The fact that they were still there is proof that He rose from the dead. You see He even controlled that, the linen, controlling His own resurrection, every detail of it.
“Then went in also the other disciple,” – verse 8 – “who came first to the sepulchre, he saw and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise from the dead.” They hadn’t been studying the Bible; they didn’t expect this.
But watch. It says at the end of verse 8 - and this is the key: “Then went also that other disciple” – John, at the end of the verse – “and” – what? – “believed.” Episteusen, came to believe. He didn’t believe before. He went in and he came to believe. What made him believe? Walking in an empty tomb, what would he believe? He believed in the resurrection, that’s obvious, verse 9. Well, what made him believe in the resurrection? What did he see that made him believe? Well, he only saw two things. What were they? The linen wrappings and the napkin, and they were in such a form as to prove to him that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Beloved, that’s the message of Easter. He took His life back again. He had the power to do that, just as He had the power to give it. Do you believe? Jesus said at the home of Mary and Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, thou he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shalt” – what? – “never die.” Then He said to them, “Believest thou this?”
Do you believe He rose from the dead? Do you believe He can give you eternal life? Do you believe that He can cause you to rise? Do you believe that He can conquer death for you? He did it, and He said, “Because I live, you can live also.”
You say, “How do I appropriate it, John?” Paul said this, “If thou shalt confess Jesus as Lord with thy mouth, and believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be” – what” – "saved. For with the heart man believeth, and with the mouth confession is made onto salvation.” Do you believe? Do you believe God raised Him from the dead? Then confess Jesus as Lord, and you will be saved; and then Easter won’t just be a day, it’ll be a way of life.
Father, thank You for our fellowship this morning. Thank You that Chris is alive. Thank You that He’s changed and transformed our life and destiny. Thank You for the pictures we’ve seen in the Scripture this morning that have opened up to our understanding the reality of His power over death and life; and that He who commanded death for Himself and commanded life for Himself has promised to command death and life for us as well. And so death, as the choir sang earlier, loses it’s sting, because of the victory Christ provides for us. Thank You for the reality of that and for our blessed Christ to whom we dedicate everything we’ve done today. We pray in His name. Amen.