Sermon #90 Series: Matthew


Title:          The Burial
Text:          Matthew 27:57-66

Readings:  Office: Buddy Daugherty Office: Bobbie Estes

Subject:     The Amazing Burial of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Date:          Tuesday Evening - July 30, 1996
Tape #        S-80




In our study of Matthew's Gospel we have seen, from this inspired narrative, Matthew's declaration of the gospel -"HOW that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." Our Lord Jesus Christ died as...



Whenever we think about the death of Christ upon the cross, we should always think of four words in our minds' association with it: Sovereignty, Substitution, Satisfaction, and Success. Our Savior died by an act of and in accordance with God's sovereign will. He died as a Substitute in the place of God's elect, his people, his sheep, those who are actually justified and saved by his blood. The Son of God did not shed his blood for nothing! He did not die in vain for the multitudes who perish under the wrath of God! To suggest that he did is to make his blood meaningless and of non-effect. By his death upon the cross our Lord Jesus Christ made atonement particularly and distinctly for his elect and effectually accomplished and obtained our eternal redemption. That means that his sacrifice and death were a success. He shall have all that and all those for whom he suffered and died. That is the message of the gospel. That is "HOW that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."


Tonight, I want to talk to you about the fact "that he was buried." Our Lord's burial is usually passed over quickly in commentaries, sermons, Bible studies, and theological material. It is commonly looked at as being only a necessary event between his death and his resurrection. There is a strong tendency to ignore the burial of our Redeemer. We look upon his death as an amazing thing; and it truly is. And we very properly look upon his resurrection as an amazing thing. Tonight I want to show you that our Savior's burial is equally amazing.




Every detail recorded about our Lord's burial, including the scheming of his enemies, is a divinely ordered testimony to the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is exactly who he claims to be: the Messiah, the Christ, the King, the Son of the living God.


You have my text before you. Let's read it together Matthew 27:57-66 "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: (58) He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. (59) And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, (60) And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. (61) And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. (62) Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, (63) Saying, sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. (64) Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. (65) Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. (66) So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."



Matthew's account of the burial of our Lord contains two very important lessons that I want to set before you in this message.


1. A Lesson about The People of God.

2. A Lesson about The Providence of God.


I.    First, the Holy Spirit gives us in these verses A LESSON ABOUT THE PEOPLE OF GOD.


Here we are introduced to a man called Joseph of Arimathea. We know very little about him. In fact, he is not mentioned before this incident and he is not mentioned after it. The Gospel writers tell us only six things about him.



Joseph had been until this time a secret disciple. We have no way of knowing how long he had been a believer, how he heard the gospel, or why he had kept his faith a secret from others. Much speculation has been made regarding these things I will not add to the confusion. If the Holy Spirit had intended for us to know them, he could have informed us as easily as he gave us the man's name. But there are some things to be learned from this man.


A. Our Lord has disciples and friends in this world who are altogether unknown to us.


I realize that believers confess Christ before men, that they confess him and identify with him and his people in believer's baptism, and that they are known by their fruits. I am aware of all those things. But that which is normally the case is not always the case. And we must take great care not to look upon someone as an unbeliever because he or she does not appear to us to be believers. We simply do not have the ability to look upon the hearts of other people. We do not have the ability to separate sheep from goats, or wheat from tares. That is why the Lord tells us to leave them alone.


Illustration: Kathy A. - "If she is saved, my dog is saved!"


No one would have named Joseph among the Lord's disciples; but he was a man whose love for Christ was demonstrated when none of the strong disciples dared to do what he did. At just the time he was needed, Joseph came forward to do honor to his Savior. At a time when the apostles had forsaken him, at a time when it was most dangerous to confess him, at a time when there seemed to be absolutely no earthly advantage to professing alligeance to him, Joseph came forward with boldness, to beg Pilate to let him have the body of the Son of God, that he might save it from further desecration, (wrapped it in clean linens, carried it in his own arms to his own tomb, and bury it in honor.


Not all believers are alike. Some are bold. Others are timid. Some are strong, others weak. Some are known around the world, others are hardly known at all. Some are very passive. Others are very active. Some build up the church and kingdom of God as zealous witnesses, preachers, missionaries, and evangelists. Others come forward only in times of special, specific need, like Joseph. Yet, all are led by God the Holy Spirit and all glorify their Master in their own specific way.


B. This fact ought to make us both charitable and hopeful.


1.   We should be charitable in our opinions of those who profess faith in Christ.


I am not talking about religious infidels, people who deny the gospel of God's free and sovereign grace in Christ. But I am talking about those who, while professing to believe the gospel, - behave in ways that we find inconsistent with faith, or who form associations that we simply cannot fathom, for which we find any reason.


2. Joseph's example ought to make us hopeful, too.


We are far too often like Elijah, thinking that we alone are left in this world to serve our God. That is never the case. "Many shall (yet) come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11).


John tells us that Nicodemus, another prominent Pharsiee, and another secret disciple, joined Joseph at the tomb. I find that interesting and instructive. Don't you? Those disciples who had openly followed the Lord during his lifetime fled from him in the end. But these two men, who had kept their faith in Christ secret while he was alive, came forward publicly to bury him honorably.



II. The second lesson in these verses is also a very important one to learn, It is A LESSON ABOUT GOD'S PROVIDENCE.


In infinite wisdom our God foresaw the objections that unbelievers, infidels, and atheists would raise against the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. Did the Son of God really die? Did he literally rise from the dead on the third day after his death? Might there not have been some delusion as to the reality of his death? Might there not have been some destortation of truth in reporting his resurrection? These and many other questions have been raised by men; but they are raised without a fabric of a basis in fact. Our God, who knows the end from the beginning, prevented the possibility of such cavils having a basis in fact. By his over-ruling providence, he fixed it so that the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord were established as irrefutable facts. And he did so by over­ruling the actions of those very men who most desired to stop the influence of Christ in this world - His Murderers! The facts recorded in these last verses of Matthew twenty-seven make it evident for all to see that the Son of God literally died as our penal Substitute, that he was buried as a dead man in the earth for three days, and that he arose from the dead on the third day after his death.


The Lord our god is so gloriously sovereign that he makes even the actions of his enemies, even the most wicked acts of men to serve his purpose for the salvation of his elect and the glory of his own great name.


Sometimes God performs notable miracles, by which he alters the course of nature to accomplish his purpose for the good of his elect and the glory of his name.



But the supernatural miracles performed by God seem almost insignificant, when compared to his sovereign disposition of all things in providence. Consider for a moment the magnitude of God's providence.


A. The Scriptures universally declare that our God rules all things, everywhere, at all times, absolutely.


1 Chronicles 29:11-12 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. (12) Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all."


2 Chronicles 20:6 "And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?"


Job 23:13 "But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth."


Psalms 76:10 "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain."


Psalms 115:3 "But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased."


Psalms 135:6 "Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places."


Proverbs 16:4 "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil."


Proverbs 16:9 "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps."


Proverbs 16:33 "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD."


Proverbs 21:30 "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD."


Isaiah 46:9-10 "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:"


Daniel 4:34-35 "And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: (35) And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"


Romans 11:36 "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."


Ephesians 1:11 "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"


B. The Word of God is filled with examples of God's sovereign providence.


·        Joseph and His Brethren.

·        Elimelech, Naomi, and Ruth.

·        Esther, Haman, and Mordecai.

·        David and Bathsheba.


Proverbs 16:9 "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps."


Jeremiah 10:23 "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."


Yet nowhere in Scripture is God's incredible and amazing providence more evident than in the burial of our Lord. Every detail, from Joseph's begging for his body, to Pilate's agreement, to the scheming of the Jews to have his tomb sealed under the protection of Roman guards, all are a testimony to the fact that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is indeed the Christ of God, our Savior, and our Lord, crucified, buried, and raised again for our justification. There is no human explanation of these events.




1.   Let all who truly are the Lord's disciples come forth in this hour when his name is maligned to confess him in believers' baptism. As he was buried for us, we must take our place with him in the watery grave.


2. May God give us grace to trust his wise and adorable providence.


Romans 8:28-31 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"