Living in this modern world in which the Christian gospel is so relentlessly criticized, one would think that the details of the truth of the life and death and resurrection and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ were somehow in question, that there was some kind of chaos and confusion about the reality. And in fact, one might even think that the Bible lacks historicity altogether, that it’s some kind of a mystical book and contains the musing of highly religious people who made a noble effort at explaining their own religious experiences.
The truth of the matter is the Bible is the living and abiding Word of God; every word is pure, every word inspired by God. It is a true and accurate record of the will of God, an expression of the mind of God, and a true account of history. And the truth is in the details.
There are people today who would tell us that they believe in the message of the Bible but not the words. They believe in the spiritually of the Bible, but not the facts. They believe in the general themes of the Bible, but not the details. But the power of the Word of God is found in the details. And that is certainly true when it comes to the historical record and the truth of the death and burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Turn in your Bible, if you will, to John 19, the passage we read earlier. We’re going to look at that passage this morning as a simple, straightforward, accurate, historical, inspired record of what indeed did take place. In fact, in the text which I read you earlier, there is a claim made in verse 35 of chapter 19, made by the writer John, inspired by the Holy Spirit to write an accurate account.
And he says this, in John 19:35, referring to himself, “And he who has seen has born witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you also may believe.”
In the twentieth chapter of John, and verse 31, John said, “These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” The goal is eternal life; the way is to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, which means – back to chapter 19, verse 35 – believing that the witness of the Bible writers is true, and that the writer is telling the truth so that you may believe unto salvation.
Salvation is based on believing; believing is based on truth. Truth is revealed in Scripture. Question Scripture and then you are left with nothing particular to believe in, and there is no hope in that.
So, we return to the power and simplicity of the biblical record, asking the question, “Should we believe the facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ recorded in Scripture to be a true history upon which we can base our faith and receive salvation and eternal life.
Or is this story not true? A noble effort at defining what some people perceived as truth? Do we believe this somehow to minimize the paralyzing anxiety of death? Is our Christianity a kind of crutch which enables us to somehow overcome the predominant fear in life which is the fear of death? We all would admit that the world views - and certainly we do, as humans – death as the king of terrors. The most certain fact about life is death, and it is more terrifying than any other element in life. In fact, the fear of death is the dominant power that Satan holds over the human heart. Is it because of this fear that we look for a fantasy, or a wishful idea, or a dream, or an illusion, or a spiritual ideal which can somehow numb the paralyzing and frightening reality of death? Or do we really have a Savior and a Redeemer who has actually triumphed over death to remove its dominion and its fear.
It was Jesus who said, “Because I live, you shall live also.” It was Jesus who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me shall live, even if He dies.” Did Jesus remove death’s sting? Did Jesus conquer its power? Did Jesus tame death? Did Jesus turn death into a benign welcome friend who opens the door to the eternal glories of heaven for all those who believe in Christ? Did Jesus transform death into something to be hoped for, longed for, anticipated, and desired as the entrance to the endless, limitless, satisfying joys that God has kept as an inheritance for all who are forgiven and belong to His eternal kingdom? Well, the truth is in the details. The truth is in the details.
The proof of His power over death is given in the record of the Bible. There are prophesies of His death in the Old Testament. The four gospels all deal with His death. The writers of the epistles and even the book of Revelation refers to His death. But there are also prophecies of His resurrection in the Old Testament. The gospels focus, each of them, on the resurrection. The epistles celebrate the meaning of that resurrection. And even the book of revelation is all about the risen, living, and coming Lord Jesus Christ. These are the dominant themes of Scripture, and the details are critical.
As we look at the text that I read to you a little bit earlier, I want you to see the power of Jesus demonstrated over His death, over His burial, and over His resurrection. There’s no way to escape the power of these details.
First of all, I want you to look at the scene of His dying. The scene of His dying, starting in verse 30, a simple statement, “When Jesus, therefore, had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.’” Fear of death is the unexpected. The fear of death is the element of surprise. The fear of death is the unknown. That is death’s chain that keeps men in bondage all their lifelong says the writer of Hebrews.
Death alone knows its moment. The most we know is we will die, but death determines that moment. In fact, there are people who commit suicide for no other reason than to rest from the clutches of death that moment, killing themselves in some perverse way to rob death of its hold over them by the fear of the unknown. It is the element of death’s dominion that produces our anxiety and our fear. Death interrupts, death intrudes; it never comes at the right time. It never comes when we’re ready; it comes before we’re ready. It comes before our relationships are what they should be. It comes before our dreams are fulfilled, before or hopes are realized. It comes before our children have accomplished what we want to see them accomplish. It comes before the wedding. It comes before the baby is born. It comes before the will is written. It comes before we have made things right with a friend. It comes before we were able to say what we wanted to say to someone that mattered to us. That’s how death is; it is the interrupter.
But not with Jesus. Verse 30 says, “When He said, ‘It is finished,’ He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” Realizing that His work on the cross was finished, realizing that He had suffered all that the wrath of God was to bring upon Him, that He had paid in full for all the sins of all who would believe, and no more payment was needed, Jesus willed Himself dead. Jesus, the very life itself, and the giver of all life, took death as His welcome friend and controlled His own dying.
In the tenth chapter of John, if you go back and pick it up at verse 15, Jesus said, “I lay down My life for the sheep.” He said it again in verse 17, “I lay down My life that I may take it again.” I lay it down; I take it. Verse 18, “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have power to lay it down, and I have power” – exousia – “to take it up again.” And such language was overwhelming to the crowd. Verse 19, “There arose a division among the Jews because of these words. And many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?’” No one has the power to lay down his life, to command death to take him. No one has the power to command life to pick him up again.
“Others were saying however” –verse 21 - “‘These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?’” The same One who has the power to give sight may well have the power to call death and to call life again. He controlled His own death. He willed Himself dead. And at the appropriate time, He willed Himself alive again.
You remember from last Sunday the twelfth chapter of John, “Jesus said” – in verse 23 – “‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’” He was saying, “My hour to die has come in order to bear the fruit of salvation.” In verse 27, “My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.’” This is My hour, this is My purpose to come and die in order to give life to others. He is ready.
In the seventeenth chapter of John, in that great, priestly prayer which we looked at on Good Friday, in verse 1, “Jesus spoke; lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee.’”
In chapter 18, “Jesus having spoken the words to the disciples in the upper room” - verse 1 – “went forth with all His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron brook, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered and His disciples.
“Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
“Jesus, therefore, knowing all these things that were coming upon Him, went forth” – He knew they were coming to arrest Him; He knew it was now His hour, that’s why He went – “He said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’
“They answered Him, ‘Jesus the Nazarene,’
“He said to them, ‘I am He.’”
Again, in verse 7, “He said, ‘Whom do you seek?’
“They said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’
“He said, ‘I told you I am He.’” Knowing it was His hour, He told His disciples. Knowing it was His hour, he reiterated it to the Father. Knowing it was His hour, He went to the place of betrayal, the place of capture, and announced to them exactly who He was; He was the one whom they were seeking. He went willingly to the cross to lay down His life, and when He had finished the work of bearing sin and the weight of the Father’s justice against that sin, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit, crying “Tetelestai,” “It has been accomplished.” Shouting for all to hear through all the ages the work of redemption is done; the wages of sin for all who have believed are paid. The task for which He came is over. This is not the death of a victim; this is the death of a victor controlling His own death. This is no surprise. Death had tried on a number of occasions to take Him unsuccessfully. Satan had tried to kill Him. There were times when the Pharisees sought His life. Even those in His own village of Nazareth wanted to throw Him off a cliff. Not until it was His hour and His place and His moment after everything was finished. He is the Master, the Sovereign of death.
It was 6:00 A.M. when Pilate stated the verdict on Jesus, “Crucify Him.” After a mock trial that went all night long against Jewish law. It was 9:00 A.M. when they nailed Him to the cross, according to Mark 15:25. By 3:00 in the afternoon, six hours later, He was dead. Shocking. So shocking that Pilate was stunned. And in Mark 15:44, it tell us that “Pilate” - so incredulous that Jesus was already dead – “wondered how He could be dead by this time and summoned the centurion, questioning him as to whether He was already dead.” People didn’t die in six hours from being crucified; it was days.
Suspended on a cross, they died of asphyxiation when they could no longer push their feet up, pull their arms up against the wounds in the hands and the feet, and therefore take in air. They eventually died of asphyxiation, slumped, all their strength gone by the loss of blood, and the exposure, and the sun, and the weariness, and the dehydration. They could no longer push themselves up; the lungs couldn’t get any air, and they suffocated. But that took days. And Jesus, surely the most fit human being who ever walked on the earth because He was untouched by sin, He must have had a body at least like, if not superior to Adam who lived over 900 years. The strength of Jesus is unimaginable, inconceivable to us. No way would He have exhausted that great, sinless strength in six hours. He couldn’t have died that soon from His wounds or the lack of ability to get oxygen into His lungs.
Why now? Because the work is done; it’s finished. There’s nothing to wait for. There’s no point in ongoing torture. But there’s more than that. Verse 31, “The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the body should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might broken, and that they might be taken away.” And this is a fascinating detail. This is a detail. These aren’t believers; these are the Jews.
In John’s gospel, the Jews refers predominantly to the Jewish leaders, the haters of Christ, the ones who sought His death, the ones who threatened and intimidated Pilate into signing, as it were, His execution. The Jews, therefore, were the ones who wanted the bodies down because it was the day of preparation, that is the day before the Passover. And this was not just any Passover; this was a Passover Sabbath. Not an ordinary Sabbath, but a high day, a Passover Sabbath with a sacredness above all other days in the year. And they knew the Law of God, and they knew in Deuteronomy what the Law said. Deuteronomy 21. I’ll just read it to you. Very clear statement, verse 22, “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he’s put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree. You shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as inheritance.”
It was a defilement to execute somebody and leave them there overnight just on any day. But even more significant, this was coming to a Passover day. This was the day before a Passover day. They didn’t want a corpse in violation of Deuteronomy 21 on a day above all days, more holy than other days. And so, the Jews demanded that rather than let these crucified three – the two thieves and Jesus – hang there over the Sabbath, they come to Pilate, and they ask Pilate that their legs might be broken that they might be taken away.
And the breaking of their legs gives us an insight into how those people died. What they would do was take a massive mallet and crush the femur with a powerful blow. And once the femur was shattered on each leg, there was no way for the victim to push himself back up to get oxygen, and death came very rapidly.
Verse 32 says, “The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man” - the thief – “and of the other man who was crucified with Him.” Amazing isn’t it? The Jews were killing their own Messiah but wanting to make sure they obeyed the Law. Sabbath is coming at sunset. It’s 3:00; there’s just a few hours until sunset. They wanted Roman permission to speed up His death, get Him off the cross before a violation of the Sabbath could occur. Kill God, but protect your devotion to the Sabbath.
In verse 33, “Coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they didn’t break His legs.” Now, Roman soldiers were experts on who’s dead. These are executioners. They know death when they see death. Shocking. That’s why Pilate sent the message, “Is He really dead? How can He be dead by now? Report back to me that He’s really dead.” And why was He dead? Because His work was done.
But there’s another reason why He was dead. Go down to verse 36, “For these things came to pass that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘Not a bone of Him shall be broken.’” Not a bone of Him shall be broken. The Old Testament prophecy said, Psalm 34:20, “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.” It was stated also in the Old Testament - in Exodus 12, verse 46; Numbers 9:12 – that not a bone of the Passover lamb, the lamb killed and eaten at the Passover, was to be broken. And according to 1 Corinthians 5:7, Jesus Christ is the Passover.
So, in perfect complement to the type of the Passover Lamb, with no broken bone, Jesus will not have a bone of His body broken. And in fulfillment of the specific statement of Psalm 34:20, not one bone will be broken.
The Jews weren’t trying to fulfill prophesy by doing this. That was the last thing they wanted to do. They wanted Jesus dead, and they wanted the people to see Him as utterly unqualified to be the Messiah. Here He is fulfilling prophecy in the very act that they do to discredit Him. Jesus controlled His death. Jesus died at the exact moment that He finished the work that God had given Him to do, and just before they would have broken his legs. If they had broken his legs, the scripture also would have been broken, and a prophecy stated concerning Him would have been wrong, and you could take your Bible and throw it away. Jesus is directing every detail even in His dying.
Now, they were trained executioners, and they knew a dead person when they saw one. But because it was so soon, just to be certain, verse 34 says, “One of the soldiers” – and this would have been a sort of a whimsical thing, just a moment’s emotional rush – “pierced His side with a spear” – this isn’t something calculated; this is so amazing to them that He is dead. And one can only imagine the physical specimen that He was, and it was a wonder of wonders that anybody would have been dead this soon, even with the scourging that He had endured. And the soldier - so surprised, and wanting to be certain – rams a spear into His side. “And immediately there came out blood and water.” Now what is this? Well, verse 37 says, “And another scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.’” Dying early means His legs aren’t broken - prophecy fulfilled. Dying early means His side is pierced – prophecy fulfilled.
And John says the soldier saw blood and water come forth immediately, clear evidence that He was dead. Hard to know exactly what the physiological explanation of that might be, but it’s at least worthy of suggestion that the heart had ruptured and dumped blood into the pericardium. How could the heart rupture? Is very rare for that to happen. It can happen, but it’s very rare. But perhaps the consequence of the most unbelievable mental anguish, sorrow, agonizing in sin-bearing. Such a death as the bursting of the heart muscle would be instant. The blood flowing immediately into the pericardium would coagulate and even separate into the red clot blood and the limpid serum which would be seen as the water or the fluid. And when the spear went into the side, it would just flow out.
One medical doctor says, “It is extremely rare for the normal heart muscle to rupture. Christ, however, suffered as no man has before or since suffered.”
And Psalm 69:20 says prophetically of Him, “Reproach has broken my heart.” And the next verse, Psalm 69:21 says, “They gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Now, we know that’s a literal prophesy, because that’s exactly what did happen at the cross. They did give Him vinegar to drink.
So, if verse 21 is literally fulfilled, why can’t verse 20, which says, “Reproach has broken my heart,” be literally fulfilled? And so, what may have happened was the unbelievable weight of sin-bearing and the wrath of God on the sinless Christ was more than a human heart could take. The anguish of sin, the pain of sin-bearing shattered the heart and scripture was fulfilled, the side was pierced. If He hadn’t died then when He died, they would have broken His legs and scripture would have been broken. If He hadn’t died then, they would not have pierced His side, and scripture would have been broken, and the prophets would have told a lie. But everything happens, down to the minutest detail.
Verse 36, “- that the scripture might be fulfilled.” And again, verse 37, “Another scripture.” And that’s why John says in verse 35, “I’ve seen it; I’ve born witness, and my witness is true, and I am telling the truth so that you may believe this is how it really was.” John begins his first epistle, “The things which we have seen and heard and our hands have handled concerning the word of life that we declare unto you.” The death Conqueror ruled His own death. He was not killed by legs being broken. He was not killed by a spear. It only revealed that He was already dead, that He gave up His spirit, verse 30. He willed His own death, in perfect timing, just after He had finished the work just before they would have broken His legs.
He not only controlled His death, but secondly, He controlled His burial. Verse 38, “And 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. He came, therefore, and took away His body.” This is amazing. Really amazing.
Joseph of Arimathea – who is he? Well, the four gospels tell us a lot about Joseph of Arimathea. If you put the accounts of the gospels together, he was rich – very rich. He was devout in his heart. He was a good man. He was a righteous man. He was a counselor of others. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish Council. Therefore, he was in on the trial of Jesus. But most notably about Joseph of Arimathea, he was a true believer in Jesus, but a secret one because he was afraid of his compatriots. He was afraid of the Jewish leadership.
But what happens here? Jesus is dead. You would think Joseph would say, “Whoo, I’m glad they never found out I was associated with Him. Glad they never found out I was a believer in Him. Now that He’s dead, I can wash my hands of that deal. Obviously He’s not the Messiah. I can move on in my life. I can reenter the Sanhedrin environment, embrace my buddies again and put Jesus behind me.” But he doesn’t do that. He wouldn’t be honest and open when He was alive, and now that He’s dead, it’s pretty amazing that He’s all of a sudden open. And in fact, not just open but really bold.
Mark 15:43 says, “He gathered up courage.” And he is courageous enough to expose himself not only to the Jews, but to Pilate himself, the very executioner of Jesus. He goes right to Pilate boldly and asks to take away the body of Jesus - which tells you something about the level of his love and devotion to Jesus - with the view of giving it a proper burial. “Pilate granted permission. He came, therefore, and took away His body.”
What’s this about? What is this about? Jesus is dead, but He’s still controlling His burial. Why? Isaiah 53:9, the prophet speaking of the Messiah said, “His grave was assigned to be with wicked men” – what the Romans did with a body was throw it out and let the birds – the vultures – eat it, or the wild animals rip it to shreds. It was road kill; it was carrion. Or maybe throw it in Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom, the city dump where the fire burned continuously. That was what they did with criminals.
So, His grave was to be assigned with the wicked. But, says Isaiah 53:9, “He was with a rich man in His death.” Common criminals were all assigned to be buried in the same way: the dump or out on the road, left for the carrion. Jesus should have been disposed of like that, “But” - says, Isaiah - “He is to be buried with the rich.” How is that going to happen? There aren’t any rich disciples.
Jesus said, “The birds of the air have nests, and foxes have holes; the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” They had nothing who followed Him; the forsook everything. They gave everything up. There weren’t any rich among the apostles. How was this prophecy going to be fulfilled simply because the body of Jesus was dead? But Jesus Himself is alive – alive in His Spirit, moving on the heart of a rich man, who is a disciple of His, to fulfill the prophecy - and a secret disciple at that – a fearful, timid disciple – to all of a sudden be transformed into total courage and boldness to come out as a follower and lover of Jesus Christ before the Jews and the Romans, even Pilate, and to show up and ask for the body so that a prophecy can be fulfilled. He becomes courageous. He goes; He gets the body to bury it. He’s not alone. Another, verse 39, “Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night” – the teacher in Israel, prominent Jewish teacher. He now steps out of the shadows, confessing His love for Christ, “bringing a mixture of myrrh” - which is a liquid - “and aloes” - a powder - “about a hundred pounds weight” – something around 70 to 75 pounds by our measurement, which would be the volume you might use to anoint the body of a king. We now know that He responded to the encounter in John 3 by becoming born again. They counted the cost; they were now followers of Jesus. Certainly they were confused. We don’t know just exactly what they thought about all of this, but their love for Him caused them to be willing to do this on His behalf.
Verse 41 says, “The place where He was crucified had a garden right nearby. And in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore, on account of the Jewish day of preparation” – remember now, the day before the Sabbath – “because the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
Now, the operative word here is “nearby.” Just kind of look at that. They show up, and they want to get Jesus in the grave now. “Nearby” is the operative word. They needed to hurry. Why? Because the Deuteronomic Law said you don’t leave a dead body exposed on the Sabbath. It is Friday. They need to get Jesus in the grave on Friday so as not to violate Deuteronomic Law. “Give us the body; we’ll bury Him before the Sabbath day begins.” This is in deference to Him as an honor to Him, and in deference to their adherence to the Law. Why the hurry? From their viewpoint, they don’t want to violate the Law. But that wasn’t the real issue. The real issue was that Jesus had to be in the grave three days. He had to be in the grave three days.
In fact, He said that He would be buried three days and three nights and then arise, like Jonah was in the belly of the fish. A day and a night to them could constitute any portion of a day. We say, “I’m gone three days,” you might mean half of today, all of tomorrow, and a few hours of the next day. We would speak the same way. They referred to a day as a day and night, just encompassing both the light and the dark part of it. Any part of a day and night constituted one day. So, they were considering Friday, even though He was in the grave a few hours before sunset, the first day; Sabbath would be the second day; and even though He rose early in the morning, He was in the ground part of the third day. It was critical that Jesus be in the grave on Friday because the prophecy, out of His own lips, needed to be fulfilled explicitly that He would be three days and three nights in the grave.
So, He moves on Joseph and on Nicodemus to accomplish this burial on Friday. The other gospels tell us, by the way, that on Sunday morning, when the women hurried to the grave, they hurried to the grave with spices. And the goal was to finish the job, because it was left undone on Friday in the hurry to get Him into the grave while it was still Friday. They wanting to avoid a violation of the Law, He moving on them to do it, to fulfill His own pledge that He would be three days in the grave before His resurrection. So, they had come on Sunday, thinking it was done hurriedly and not complete. And wanting to honor Him, they were going to do more to somehow stall off the inevitable stench and decay of His body. So, Jesus controls His death, and He controls His own burial.
Staggeringly, that brings us to His resurrection. Chapter 20, verse 1, here is where you really see His power. He has power over death. He has power, when dead, to carry out His own burial schedule. And He has power to give life back to His body. “On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.” She came back to finish the hurried burial, which would have been not allowed on the Sabbath. So, she had to wait till Sunday. She saw the stone already removed. The tomb is empty. We could stop right there and just have a celebration. “She ran and came to Simon Peter and said to the other disciple whom Jesus loved” – John never calls himself John; he always calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved; I prefer that, too; so do you – “She ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They’ve taken away the Lord out of the tomb; we don’t know where they’ve laid Him.’” She thought maybe the Jews had stolen His body for some further desecration – or the Romans had stolen His body because they thought He ought to be thrown in the dump with all the other riff-raff criminals. Or some grave robbers had taken Him for some other ill-conceived purpose.
“Peter therefore and” – John – “the other disciple start running” – verses 3 and 4. And you know the story. John comes first, looks in, doesn’t go in. But in verse 5, here’s the details, “He sees the linen wrappings lying there; but he didn’t go in.” Now remember, the tomb had a guard of Roman soldiers. It was sealed with a Roman seal, not to be broken. But all of a sudden, soldiers aren’t there, the stone’s rolled away, the seal is broken, the body is gone. And anybody who was going to steal the body would have taken the body intact and wrapped and left. Why would you unwrap a dead body and fold up the wrappings?
“Simon Peter came behind, following him, and enters, sees the linen wrappings lying there, and the face cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself” – placed in a completely different location. The wrappings are lying there as if Jesus came through them. And then took His head cover, wrapped it up, folded it neatly, and put it in a separate place. Inexplicable. Inexplicable.
“So, the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also” – that’s John – “and he saw and believed.” What did he believe? He believed Jesus was alive. He believed it was a resurrection; there was no other explanation. Grave robbers would have taken the body intact; they wouldn’t have spent their time doing that. They wouldn’t have neatly folded the headpiece and placed it in a location. And how – who got by the Romans, and who rolled the stone away, and who broke the seal? Nothing makes sense but a resurrection, and he knew it, and he believed is. “Up to that point, he didn’t understand the scripture” – here we are again with the scripture. It was the scripture that was fulfilled when they didn’t break His legs, and when they pierced His side. It was the scripture out of his own mouth when they got Him in the grave on Friday so that He was there for the three days. And it is the scripture again that is fulfilled in the resurrection. And just what scripture is that? Well, I think you know this so well; it’s the sixteenth Psalm. Such a familiar Psalm to them and to us, “Therefore My heart is glad and My glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. Thou wilt not abandon my soul to the grave” – or Sheol – “neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. Thou wilt make known to Me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forever more.” The prophesy of the resurrection from Psalm 16.
And even in Isaiah 53, where Isaiah had talked about the death of Christ. That was not the end of the story at all. “The Lord was pleased to crush Him” – verse 10 – “putting Him to grief, but He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. I will allot Him a portion with the great, He will divide the booty with the strong” – God’s promise that Messiah would be honored and glorified, lifted up and exalted. And He understood what the Scripture said. And even the scripture out of the mouth of Jesus that if His body was destroyed, in three days He would build it again.
Quietly the account ends in verse 10, “The disciples went away again to their own homes.” One can only imagine what they were thinking, because that night, when they convened, Jesus showed up. The truth is in the details.
What about you? What is your view of Jesus Christ? You have the Old Testament. You have the New Testament. You have the evidence of the resurrection. You have the amazing, powerful control Jesus exercised over His death, over His burial, and over His resurrection. And these things are written according to verse 35 so that you can know the truth, so that you can believe the truth, and as 20:31 says, “So that believing you may have eternal life in His name.” Salvation is in the details; it’s in the facts.
Romans 10:9 and 10, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” – from hell and judgment. But you must believe the facts concerning Christ.
Father, we come to You at the end of this wonderful morning, thankful for the glory that is revealed concerning Christ in the beautiful details of Scripture. We praise Him as our risen Savior who gives us life.
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