“Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.” (Mark 15:44-45 NKJV)
The greatest event in the history of the world, if true, is the Resurrection of Jesus. If it’s true, how could we do anything but follow Him. If it’s not true, then, as Paul said, “we are of all men most to be pitied” if we follow Him. In the story of Jesus’s death, we are reminded of the most important pre-resurrection step: death. Jesus died quickly, which surprised Pilate. All of the accounts speak of Joseph of Arimathea taking the body and burying it. Non-believers in the resurrection have sought to disprove the reality of the resurrection by claiming things like Jesus didn’t actually die, or that the reason the body couldn’t be found was that the Romans took it to a trash heap. While we’ll look more at the resurrection tomorrow, when we look at Biblical and other historical evidence, we must say, with apologies to the lyricists from The Wizard of Oz, “Not only was He really dead, He really was sincerely dead.”
We don’t like to talk about death. We’ve come up with a number of euphemisms to describe death, as epitomized by Monty Python in their Dead Parrot sketch. We gloss over the death of Jesus moving from the crucifixion to the resurrection quickly, noting only that Jesus was buried, but that He rose again. We know the end of the story, so we don’t dwell on this terrible interlude. There are times we should dwell on His death though. We know that He died for our sins. Perhaps that means that we shouldn’t take our sins lightly nor should we re-categorize sin as anything other than rebellion against God. He died so that when our sins were forgiven, we could have a relationship with God – which means that when we ignore or forget God, we’re treating Jesus as though He died in vain. If the death of Jesus brought us eternal life, then we should live each day of eternity to honor Him.
Lord, remind me what You went through on the cross. Help me remember why You had to die. Mold my life so that others will recognize the difference You make in Your followers.