Theology 101 — Christ Died and Was Buriedcomment (0)
April 10, 2014
By Jerry Batson
Easter is approaching. This is a good season in which to remember that Christ is at the heart of the gospel. Its good news swirls around who He is and what He did. A straight to the point summary of the gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3 in the declaration of Paul the apostle, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
The heart of Christ’s saving mission and thus the heart of our message about Him is that He died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day. What went before these climactic events is certainly not unimportant — His real incarnation, His sinless life, His compassionate ministry, His unparalleled teaching and His self-revealing miracles. Even so, the heart of His saving mission is summarized in what is declared to be “of first importance” — His death, burial and resurrection.
Let’s think this week about the biblical record that Christ died and was buried. Christians through the ages have made the faith confession that His death was a saving death. Think about it. What made His death a saving death was not how He died. Many others before and after Him suffered excruciating deaths upon crosses. In fact, as we know, two others died alongside Him on the day He died, but their deaths did not have an ounce of saving virtue attached to them. What made Christ’s death different was not how He died, but who He was.
No other person ever crucified on a cross died as a Savior of others. Christ was more than an ordinary man. He was the Son of God who had entered the world as the son of Mary. All others had a human mother, but none of them had God as their Father. All others who have died on a cross were sinners, but He was without sin. Sinners do not make perfect sacrifices even though they die on crosses.
The burial of Jesus’ body attests to the reality of His death. An attendant fact to a real death was the piercing of His body by the soldier’s sword (John 19:33–34). To this may be added the verification of death that the Roman centurion furnished Pilate before the release of Jesus’ body for burial (Mark 15:43–45).
Since we already know the conclusion to that fateful weekend, we know that Jesus’ death and burial were the necessary precursors to an Easter morning resurrection. Furthermore a real death viewed from the vantage point of the resurrection furnishes us with theological certainty that Jesus paid sin’s wages, a portion of which is physical death (Rom. 6:23).
Inasmuch as our Savior paid it all, we in turn owe Him all that we are and have. As we enter once again into Holy Week, we are reminded that we owe Him our deepest worship as well as our highest love. His redeeming love demands our best response in holy living and outgoing service. Owing Him a debt we can never repay fully, we can make installments to Him by ministering to others in His name. We do service to the Savior when we extend practical deeds of helpfulness and kindness to those around us. We can best love Him whom we cannot see by loving those whom we can see. Let’s ponder anew 1 John 4:20–21 as we move through Holy Week.