Matthew 27:45-66 Part 8


At verse sixty-one, some women had followed Joseph (and, maybe, Nicodemus) and John to the site where Jesus was to be buried.  And when the men had prepared Him (although not fully, since it was late – and it was time for the Sabbath), they put Him in the tomb and rolled the stone into place.

And all but two left.  The two “Marys” sat there for a while.  They were to come back early, after the Sabbath, and finish preparing the body for permanent entombment.  And at some point the two Marys left.

The Lord Jesus did lie at rest, then, from late Friday afternoon until early Sunday morning (and I’m using these names of the days of the week with the understanding that they were first used later by the Romans).  But as Jesus had prophesied to His disciples… “(the Son of Man) shall be raised the third day.”

I’ll not say too much with regard to the Sabbath at this point – so as to avoid getting us involved in a lengthy exposition of it – but the Theological connections ought to be quite clear to us all – the creation of the heavens and the earth by Almighty God is briefly comprehended in the first three chapters of Scripture, isn’t it?  (Sometimes we would wish that there were more written about it… but it is sufficient.)

But Moses says that God created the earth in six days.  And all the rest of Scripture confirms the six-day creation – including the words and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In fact, a denial of the six-day creation (or any variation or denial of it – including Theistic evolution) obviates the whole of Scripture (and the burial and resurrection of Christ), and is completely inconsistent with the Christian Faith!

But, having created the heavens and the earth in six days, God rested from all His work on the seventh.  Therefore he provided this “image” – this “pattern” – of life for the crowning glory of His creation – for MAN!

Now, since God was Creator – and man was created (creature) – man was to “image’ his Creator in all that he did.  And that included doing “work” for six days… and resting on the seventh.

However (and you know the history) man sinned (wanting to be “as” God instead of being a creature of God – in His image).  This was the catastrophe above all catastrophes – chaotically affecting all the creation.  Man was cursed by God and died… – … thereafter desperately needing to be re-created, or rebirthed in the image of God.  And the sin had to be paid for; and the curse had to be fulfilled; and the pattern of life had to be recreated or reinstated!

What was needed?  Either man suffered eternally for his insufferable arrogance against his own Creator, or… there would have to be some Substitute to suffer for him.

And God, in His great love for all His creation, did provide His Own Substitute!  The Son of God, the second Person of the Triune Godhead, covenanted with God the Father to receive the penalty due to man.  And, in Him, humanity would be recreated; and the creation would be restored; and the pattern of life established at the beginning would be reestablished!

Now, over the past weeks and months we have seen, in detail, the horror of the wrath of God unleashed upon His Substitute.  The Lord Jesus Christ received the full penalty for our sin and depravity and uncleanness.  And having done so, He “yielded the Spirit” and entered the heavenlies as our atonement.

And God considers the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, as full satisfaction of the debt.  Humanity has been recreated in Him; and the pattern of obedience and life is reestablished.

Jesus Christ completed the work which He covenanted to do.  By His work He recreated the heavens and the earth!  And just as God had “rested” on the seventh day (after the creation), so Jesus was at “full rest” on the seventh day.  After His “recreative activity” He “Rested”!  And the “pattern” of creation is reestablished after the image of the Creator.  The God-Man had obeyed God the Father for us!  He was the express image of the Father as man would not be!

So, there is the foundational Theology for the entire Biblical doctrine of the Sabbath.  And, as the writer to the Hebrews says, “There now remains a Sabbath for the people of God.”  All the “ceremonial” aspects of the seventh day Law having been fulfilled and replaced with something better, the “First Day” of the week (Resurrection Day) is now the Christian Sabbath, recreated by Christ – filled with all the joys of worship and rest in Christ Jesus the resurrected Lord.

Now.  Before we make some last comments about the burial of Jesus and the “panicked” Sabbath meeting of the Sanhedrin (in verses sixty-two through sixty-six), there is another, more specific, prophesy in the Older Testament Scriptures that is, here, fulfilled in all its reality.

In Zechariah chapter twelve, verse ten we read this:


“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for His only Son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for His first-born.”


Now, here’s what John saw and wrote down in the nineteenth chapter of his Gospel:


“…but when they came to Jesus and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs; but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water….”


In the prophecy of Zechariah, God is presented as the King of Israel, Who has been pierced in the heart as the Good Shepherd… Who has been put to death and denied by His Own sheep.  They took the life of the Servant of God – they impaled His Messenger! – But the Lord announces, by the prophecy of Zechariah, that “men shall see Him whom they have pierced.”  The whole world shall see that.  But especially the people of God, who (by means of the Spirit), bewail their sins!  The ones who are “poor in spirit”… those who lament their sin… will arise out of the unfaithful covenant relationship (which is really that which has wounded the Shepherd).  And as Zechariah says, they shall, “mourn for Him” in bitterness.

And don’t we have explicit fulfillment of the prophecy right at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles?  In chapter two, as Peter preaches the Gospel of Christ, many are “pierced in their hearts”, and left in bitterness and poverty of spirit, that they have crucified the Son of God!

The Holy Law of God is brought against them… that they are murderers of the Son of God – and that by the very will of God!  “Blessed are the poor in spirit….”  “Blessed are those who mourn….”  For the Sword of God has pierced their very hearts and left them in an impoverished condition – “ For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The prophecy of Zechariah is literally fulfilled in the Christ… and at Pentecost when the Church receives its “first-fruits” at the preaching of the Word!

Now, enter a certain man Joseph… a man from Arimethea.  He was eminent… a man of the Sanhedrin.  He had a grave hollowed out for himself in the vicinity of the city.  This tomb he is willing to give for the accursed Nazarene.  And Pilate, glad (very likely) that he can help choose a grave for the Man for whom he doesn’t wish every last evil thing; and glad that he can (maybe) annoy the Jews a bit, by means of one of their own.  So he grants Joseph’s request.  It was a common courtesy.

So the little group (five or six at the most – a remnant of Abraham) performs their sad duty.  It didn’t’ take long; in fact they didn’t finish the task… the Sabbath was upon them.  After the Sabbath some could return and finish the work (which was now done in haste).  And the humiliation of the Christ is continued.

I say “humiliation” because the burial of Jesus in a tomb (especially among the wicked, and in the tomb of a rich man) is a part of the shame of death….

The devastation of sin is confirmed by the grave.  The tomb conceals the unclean – the rotting – the filthy.  It is a “withdrawal” from this world and a confession of depravity to be placed in a tomb.  That which is repulsive is taken away, and a final “amen” is said to the world and to life.

And since the Christ of God is appointed to suffer public humiliation, the grave must necessarily be part of this shame and disgrace.  It is, partly, a penalty for sin… our sin (not His).  The grave punctuated the death of the God-Man, for He became sin for us; and He was buried in the depths of the earth for us.

And not only was He “entombed” in the earth in disgrace, but… there was no funeral.  Nobody said anything.  A burial is, in essence, a stripping away of all power in this world.  It is a “putting away” and a “fading from the thoughts and minds of others”.

At burial we lose all personality and “self-explanation”.  And others explain us.  We are given the “exegesis” of others.  And we become a name… a “symbol” – a “figure” if you will, as others say things over our dead bodies.

And this is exactly how our Lord Jesus Christ, in all His humiliation, was manifested by the Father.  He was put away in a rush to obey the Sabbath Laws.  There was not even a funeral… nor an oratory.  And they did not exegete Him.  Did they love Him?  I’m sure they did.  Did they know Him?  I’m sure they did not.  They did not yet understand the great Prophet, Priest and King.

They simply linked His dying with all other everyday events.  In the final analysis His burial was acknowledgment of His death – after the usual manner of the day.  He died – they buried Him.

And never had “the Christ” been so concealed as He was now.  It was over.  As Jesus “rests” on the Sabbath, the “discrepancy” has never been so great.  The Glory and Majesty of God the Creator and Judge of Heaven and Earth… and the body of Jesus entombed in the earth in another man’s sepulcher.  And not even one man to give Him true exposition in His death.

It was a pathetic, humiliating, shameful spectacle.  They had sung about “the Stone which should be made the Head of the Corner:… the builders refused it!  “Save now, I beseech Thee O Lord….  Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord”  (Psalm one hundred eighteen).  They had sung it as He triumphantly came into Jerusalem.

Had they understood it, they would not have buried Him.  Or they would have buried Him differently….

Is this all that He left behind in this world?  They thought so.  Is this the whole of the seed of the woman?  In what consists the rebirth?  Nicodemus was here… the one with whom Jesus had spoken (in secret) concerning the rebirth.  Joseph was there.  John says he was there.  And two women.  A great congregation!  Five who looked forward to Messianic redemption (the salvation of Israel and Jerusalem)… but bade no connection between Messianic Redemption and the now dead Jesus!

The humiliation burial of Christ, the embalming of His dead body, and the arrangement to finish the “mummification” of the body on Sunday morning (after the Sabbath) all represented a total denial of the resurrection!

That the death and burial of Jesus Christ is fulfillment of the Scriptures, and is of central significance in the “regeneration” of all things in the legal payment of the debt of man, is unknown to them!

That the ripping of the veil in the temple is the figurative proof that Jesus Christ entered the Throne-Room of God (at His death) as the atonement for the sin of men (all spoken by the prophets) passes completely over them without their attention!

Many are “offended” by these things.  Many today are offended by these things.  Many in the Church are offended today by these things.

The Jews were offended!  The Sanhedrin rushed, on the Sabbath, to Pilate… dispensing with the Law of the Sabbath and the desecration regulations; and they humbly addressed him as “kurios” – lord!  Of course it was a “feigned” humility (verse sixty-three).


“We came to remember,” they said… “it has just come into our minds again that this deceiver said, while yet living, ‘After three days I arise.’”


“This deceiver…”!  A vicious, derogatory allusion to Jesus Christ, who is alleged to have used deceptive practices… pretending to be messiah… to capture the hearts of the people, but all the while aiming at a violent, political take-over!

And the “deceiver” mentioned rising from the dead!  “It just came into our minds again…” that He mentioned rising from the dead!!!  And (verse sixty-four) “His followers might come and remove Him and say to the people ‘He was raised from the dead!’”  Even if it was only in the context of deception… they still understood it!

The assumption is, of course, that Jesus (Whose Name they loathed to use, preferring to use “deceiver”, or “Nazarene”, or “Galilean”)… their assumption is that Jesus could not possibly arise from death.  And they attribute their own deceptive natures to the intent of Jesus’ disciples – assuming that they will steal the body and claim that He had done what He said He would do!

If they just stole the body and “hid” it (so that Jesus just “disappeared”) the mystery would remain; and the deception would get worse!  They still feared all these people, you see; and they feared deception – and the course of events which might follow if that deception occurred!  They had always complained that Jesus “stirred up” the people.  And this big crowd would really be stirred up if they thought their great leader had arisen from death!

But they didn’t understand just how “naïve” the disciples were; and how they had just “missed the entire thing”!!  The disciples had no thought whatever about stealing the body.  In fact, the resurrection of Christ had not even entered their minds – in reality or by deception!

But having heard the concerns of the Jewish leaders Pilate, curtly and masterfully, directs them to “have a guard” (verse sixty-five).


“Go secure for yourselves as you know.”


Take a guard with you and secure the sepulcher as you see fit.  Make it safe from intruders and from deceivers; and don’t bother me any more about it!  He seems a bit irritated with these people, and he dismisses them with a curt command.  Here… take some soldiers and do it!

And, as verse sixty-six says, they took the guard and sealed the tomb.  We really don’t know how they sealed it; but the huge, wheel-shaped stone (difficult to move anyway) was sealed to the rock into which the sepulcher was hewn.  And the guard was left there to watch.  Little did they know that, rather than preventing a deception by Jesus’ disciples, they confirmed the resurrection!!  By sealing the tomb and posting a guard, they could never legitimately say that the body of Jesus was not secured!

And then early the next day, Sunday, the first day of the week, (still dark), the two Marys made their way back toward the tomb.  They were going to finish applying the spices and ointments to the wrapped body of Jesus; and they had no way of knowing that the Jews had sealed the tomb and left a Roman guard there to watch it.  It was Mark who records the fact that the two women were wondering about how they were going to get inside… who would move the stone at the entrance.

But when they arrived, they found that the great stone had already been rolled away.

I’m going to read for you now the next ten verses – chapter twenty-eight, verses one through ten – Matthew’s account of what had happened before these two women got to the sepulcher and what they saw when they arrived.


1)    Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawning of the first day, came Mary the Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.

2)    And, lo, a great “shaking” had occurred, for an angel of Kurios, having come down from heaven, and having come forth did roll the stone away and was sitting upon it.

3)    And his appearance was as lightning and his garment white as snow.

4)    The ones guarding had been shaken from the fear of him, and they had been made as dead ones.

5)    And responding the angel said to the women, “Fear ye not, for I know that you are seeking Jesus the One Who was crucified.

6)    He is not here, for He was raised according as He said.  Come see the sepulcher where He was lying.

7)    And shortly, when you go, tell His disciples ‘He has been raised from the dead and, lo, He goes before you into Galilee; there you will see Him.’  Lo, I told you.”

8)    And having gone away quickly from the sepulcher, they ran with fear and great joy to carry word to His disciples.

9)    And, lo, Jesus met them saying, “Hail.”  And they, having approached, laid hold of Him at the feet and worshipped Him.

10) Then Jesus says to them, “Have no fear.  Go carry word to My brothers that I will go forth into Galilee, and there they shall see Me.”