Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Burial of Jesus

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Let's continue in the 19th chapter of John. I don't see any great truths in this passage of Scripture, but simple details that, along with the other three gospels, confirm that this happened in a real place at a real time with real people. Pilate, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea were all real people. myrrh and aloes were typical of the burial procedure of the day. All these details just add to the pile of evidence that Jesus was a real man, who really lived, and really was crucified and was really buried. There is no allegory in these stories.

Christianity stands apart from all other religions, where you can have the beliefs without the central figure. You can have Buddhism apart from the Buddha. You can have Scientology apart from L. Ron Hubbard. But, you cannot have Christianity apart from Christ. Christianity is not just a list of ideas and morals. It is the physical act of God satisfying his wrath in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Without that actual act, if it is just a moral story, then, as Paul says, "We are to be pitied above all men." But, if it really happened, then we have the hope that surpasses all understanding, and we have the obligation to point the world to their only chance for salvation. 

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