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November 7, 2023

John Part 55

In John 19:30 Jesus utters His final words from the cross – “It is finished.”




John 19:38 thru 20:10

In John 19:30 Jesus utters His final words from the cross – “It is finished.” His mission is complete. He has accomplished what He came down here to do. John tells us that Jesus then bows His head and gives up His spirit. The Roman soldiers assigned to the execution detail observe Jesus and determine that He’s dead. Just to make sure that He IS dead they thrust a spear into His side. This pierces either His heart or chest cavity causing an outpouring of blood and water from His side. This confirms that Jesus is indeed dead. The incarnate Christ, Immanuel, God with us, God in human flesh, has died. Last week we discussed how Jesus’ followers would have felt as they look up and see their Lord dead on the cross. Several of you mentioned feelings of sadness, anger, betrayal, fear, and confusion. And by the way, when Jesus met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) and He began talking to them, they conveyed those same feelings to Jesus. They were struggling with doubt about who Jesus was. After all, He hadn’t set up His kingdom like they thought He would. This troubled and confused them. They didn’t know what to think. So this is the state of mind that we find Jesus’ followers in right after Jesus has died.

Let me take you back to something Jesus said in John Chapter 10 (v 17-18). He was speaking about His death and resurrection. Listen to His words: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again [Greek word translated “authority” in the ESV means He has the power to do it]. This charge I have received from my Father.” So then, based on what Jesus said in John Chapter 10, what I just read, who killed Jesus? A, the Jews; B, the Romans; C, God the Father or D, none of the above. Jesus said, “No one takes it (speaking of His life) from Me. I lay it down of my own accord.” The correct answer is D. Nobody killed Jesus. He was not a victim or a martyr. He voluntarily laid down His life, in submission to His Father’s will – as Peter would say later in Acts 2:23, “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God;” it was all part of God’s plan. And He did it motivated by His love for us (John 3:16). It’s important that we understand this. Jesus is in control of all the events surrounding His death, His burial and His resurrection. I just want to be sure that you understand that before we move on. QUESTIONS??

So let’s pick up the narrative in v 38… READ John 19:38-42

It’s late Friday afternoon. We’re told back in v 31 that the Jews are in a hurry to remove the bodies from the cross. They’re adhering to the requirements of the Law, Deut 21 (v 22-23), “If a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.” The Jews don’t want to defile the Sabbath, which at this time coincides with the Passover celebration – as John puts it, it is a “high day.” Now, the hypocrisy of the Jews is hard to miss. On the one hand, they have just forced Pilate to put to death their own Messiah, the Lord of the Sabbath, but on the other hand, the Jews want to avoid defiling the Sabbath. So they ask Pilate to expedite the deaths of those on the cross so that they can bury the bodies prior to nightfall. Pilate goes along with their request and orders that this be carried out. They’re in a hurry. Undoubtedly the Jews intent is for Jesus to be disgracefully buried alongside the two thieves that He had been crucified with. But instead, a secret follower of Jesus by the name of Joseph intervenes. John tells us the reason that he is a secret follower – “for fear of the Jews.” We know little about him other than he is from the town of Arimathea (15-20 mi N of Jerusalem) and he’s a rich man. Mark adds that he’s a member of the council, a reference to the Jewish religious governing body, the Sanhedrin. And it just so happens that this rich man, Joseph, owns a tomb near where the crucifixion took place, a new tomb, one that has never been used. And so he bravely goes to Pilate and asks for Jesus’ body. Joseph risks his reputation among his peers and his position in order to do this. And so it is a courageous act on his part. Joseph then takes Jesus’ body down from the cross and transports it to the tomb. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9, “And they made his grave [speaking of the Messiah] with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” More than likely the graves of the 3 crucified men had already been prepared in the place reserved for executed criminals, but Joseph of Arimathea takes Jesus’ body instead. We saw many scriptures fulfilled in Jesus’ crucifixion (which we talked about) and now we see one that is fulfilled in His burial.

John mentions one other secret follower of Jesus. This man volunteers his services in the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial. His name is Nicodemus. John tells us that he’s the same guy who came to Jesus by night. That happened way back in John Ch 3. When we studied that chapter we learned that Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews. You may be curious as to how Nicodemus and Joseph, these two prominent Jewish religious officials, came to believe in Jesus. We’re not told exactly but it was likely after the raising of Lazarus from the dead, an event that was witnessed by many of the Jewish elite. John 12 (v 10-11) says, “So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well (they’re also plotting to kill Jesus), because on account of him (Lazarus) many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.” You could say that Lazarus was living proof that Jesus was who He had claimed to be. The raising of Lazarus from the dead convinced many of the Jewish rulers that Jesus was the Son of God. Many believed. However, because of their position, they became secret followers for fear of what might happen to them if they made that known publicly.

So they take Jesus’ body down from the cross and they wrap it in linen cloths (much like a mummy). As they wrap His body they place a sweet smelling mixture of myrrh and aloes on it – this is done in order to overpower the stinch of decaying flesh. And there must have been quite a lot of it used because John tells us that Nicodemus contributes 70 pounds of this aromatic mixture himself. So, I dare say, based on what we see here, it is doubtful, highly unlikely, that Jesus’ followers are anticipating His resurrection. They’re preparing Jesus’ body like they would any other dead body. And that’s how John leaves it in Ch 19 – Jesus’ body wrapped and laid to rest in Joseph’s tomb. QUESTIONS?

Matthew’s account says that the Jews remember what Jesus had said to them – “After three days I will rise.” I always find it interesting that Jesus’ enemies remembered what He said regarding His resurrection better than His own disciples did. So the Jews request that Pilate secure the tomb until the third day “lest His disciples steal His body and then tell the people that He has risen from the dead.” Pilate accommodates their request. He makes the tomb secure by sealing the stone (with a Roman seal) and setting a guard (with well-trained Roman soldiers) outside the entrance. Joseph rolls a “great stone” (very large) to the entrance of the tomb. This is what the Romans sealed. So, even if Jesus’ disciples had plotted to steal Jesus’ body – and there is absolutely no indication that they were (remember their state of mind at the time of the crucifixion: scared, in shock, confused) – even if they had plotted to steal His body this precautionary action taken by Pilate would have certainly put an end to that.

The stage is set. It’s dusk on Friday evening. Jesus’ lifeless body is wrapped in linen cloths, covered in myrrh and aloes, and securely sealed inside a rock tomb. At this point everyone returns home except for those Roman guards who have been posted at the tomb. The very next verse in John’s account, John 20:1 begins, “Now on the first day of the week…” The way that I read the scripture is that Jesus was definitely laid in the grave on a Friday evening (the next day is the Sabbath, which is a Saturday) and He is definitely not in the grave early on Sunday (the first day of the week). As I read the various gospel accounts Jesus is in the tomb, then, for parts of three days – part of Friday, all day Saturday, then part of Sunday.

Jesus is not in the tomb for a literal 72 hours. Does this violate scripture? No. Almost every time the NT references Jesus rising from the dead it says, “on the third day.” There’s one exception which I will get to in a minute. We reckon time the same way. When I was asked recently how many days our electricity was off, I said 4 days. It was off part of Wednesday, all day Thursday and Friday and then part of Saturday. So I said four days even though in actual hours wise it was more like 68 hours. So Jesus was buried on a Friday and on the third day, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, He arose. There’s one passage, Matthew 12:40, where Jesus is speaking of His death and resurrection and He says this: “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish (Jesus is referencing Jonah 1:17), so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” So Jesus is using Jonah’s experience in the belly of the great fish as a simile for Jesus’ time in the grave – “just as… so will.” John MacArthur says this in his commentary on that verse: “‘Three days and three nights’ was an emphatic way of saying ‘three days,’ and by Jewish reckoning this would be an apt way of expressing a period of time that includes parts of three days. Thus, if Christ was crucified on a Friday, and His resurrection occurred on the first day of the week, by Hebrew reckoning this would qualify as three days and three nights. All sorts of elaborate schemes have been devised to suggest that Christ might have died on Wednesday or Thursday, just to accommodate the extreme literal meaning of these words.”

So as I read the scripture Jesus was buried on a Friday evening and resurrected early on Sunday morning, closer to 36 hours in time. The Bible is not contradicting itself. QUESTIONS?

So, are you ready for the resurrection? Let’s read about it.

READ John 20:1-10

When you read all 4 gospel accounts about the resurrection of our Lord (including John’s) all fail to mention one thing – the resurrection itself! No one saw it! There were no eyewitnesses to it. So how then do we know that it actually happened? By looking at the evidence. First, there is the empty tomb. The Roman guards are apparently gone (not mentioned), the tomb is opened, the stone that sealed the entrance has been removed, there’s no body, and the grave clothes are neatly lying in place. So upon reviewing this evidence what can we conclude? Either there was an actual resurrection or someone took Jesus’ body (which is what Mary Magdalene thought in v 2). But who would have taken Jesus’ body? Mary Magdalene’s reaction and the subsequent reaction by Peter and John running to the tomb, leads you to conclude that it wasn’t the disciples. Besides how could these scared men have overpowered trained Roman soldiers? And the Roman soldiers would not have done it themselves. That would have adversely affected their health because it would have been dealt with seriously by Pilate when he heard about it. The Jews wouldn’t have done it because it would have been counter- productive to what they were trying to accomplish by having the guards placed there in the first place. And it couldn’t have been anyone else because the Roman soldiers would have stopped them. That’s what they were trained to do. And if someone was going to steal Jesus’ body then why would they take the time to unwrap it and fold up the face cloth and put everything back neatly. The fact is they wouldn’t have. They would have taken the body wrappings and all and left in a hurry.

So it is quite a mysterious scene!

The disciples are left scratching their heads. What has happened here? John gives us a clue as to what he and Peter and the other disciples might have been thinking at the time. READ John 20:8-9 again. They hadn’t been anticipating a resurrection. But now they concluded that this is exactly what must have happened. John says that he saw the evidence and believed. The other gospel accounts give us even more evidence of a resurrection. Specifically they mention the testimony of an angel. Matthew describes an angel whose appearance was like lightening and his clothing white as snow. This angel’s appearance strikes terror into the Roman guards. This same angel later tells the women who came to the tomb that Jesus is not here “for He has risen.” Mark describes a young man dressed in a white robe telling the women, “He has risen; He is not here.” Luke describes two men in dazzling apparel telling the women, “He is not here, but has risen. And they reminded them of what Jesus had said, that He would be crucified and on the third day arise. So the testimony of what is apparently an angel offers additional evidence of a resurrection. Matthew adds that the Roman soldiers who had been guarding the tomb went and told the Pharisees what they witnessed – there was an angel, a great earth-quake and the stone was rolled away. Matthew goes on to describe how the Jews dealt with this shocking news. They concocted a lie in order to cover it up and then paid off the guards to spread the story that Jesus’ disciples came in the night and stole His body.

However the best evidence of all of the resurrection was what? Hint it happens three times in v 11-29 next week’s lesson – the appearance of the resurrected Jesus Himself. What more proof do you need than that? The one you saw before that was dead you later see alive!

So as we leave John’s narrative in v 10, the disciples have gone back to their homes. They’ve just seen the evidence that Jesus has been resurrected just like He said He would. They remember now. The disciples want to believe that it’s true, but they haven’t seen Jesus yet. If they could only see Jesus with their own eyes then it would reinforce this belief. Well, that’s about to happen and we’ll get to that next week.

JESUS IS ALIVE and that changes everything – for them and for us. We don’t worship a dead Savior. He is alive and He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. All other religions have a dead leader. You can go to their graves. The prophet Muhammad is buried at the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Confucius is buried in Qufu in Shandong province of China. Mary Baker Eddy is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Joseph Smith is buried at the Smith Family Cemetery in Nauvoo, Illinois. And on and on I could go. But when you go to the place they say Jesus was buried, in Jerusalem in Israel, I’m here to tell you, the tomb is empty. He is not there for He is risen!

So how important is Jesus’ resurrection. It’s critical to our faith. First Corinthians Chapter 15 is a great chapter about the resurrection.

READ 1 Corinthians 15:13-17 with emphasis following on verse 20, “Christ has been raised from the dead!”

Hallelujah, Praise God. Now that is worth singing about --

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John 19:38 thru 20:10

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