The Passion Of The Christ: The Days Of Silence


The_Burial001Most people, when contemplating the events of Easter, assume Jesus was crucified on Friday because numerous references in the gospels mention that the next day was the Sabbath.

Mark 15:42 “When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath

Luke 23:54 “It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.”

John 18:31 “Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”

But if my former pastor, Chuck Swindoll, is right and “Sabbath” refers to the Special Sabbath connected with the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, what John calls “a high day,” then there are several days of silence following Jesus’s death.

I need to back up. There’s much more we could discuss about the events surrounding Jesus’s death: Judas’s betrayal, for instance, and his subsequent suicide; Peter’s adamant statements that he didn’t know Jesus, hours after his failed attempt to prevent His arrest; the passerby named Simon who was commandeered to carry Christ’s cross; the seven recorded statements Jesus made from the cross; the soldiers gamboling for His clothes; the thief making a statement of faith as he hung dying, and Christ’s response to him.

Each event is significant and has much to teach. I haven’t ignored them because I think they are peripheral. Rather, they seem unaltered whether we look at the crucifixion events in the traditional way or in the expanded view.

There’s also a common understanding of what took place after Christ’s death, from three in the afternoon until six. When the Romans realized that Jesus was already dead, they pierced His side “to make sure.” The blood and the water that poured from his pierced heart convinced them He had died.

One of his disciples, a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathea, went to Pilate and claimed the body. He gave up his own grave on Christ’s behalf, then he, along with Nicodemus, wrapped the body in burial cloths with some spices, laid it in the tomb, and rolled the stone in front of the entrance.

This was a hasty burial, no doubt, because they had to finish before the Sabbath which began at six that evening.

Significantly, a group of women who we don’t hear a lot about, but who had followed Jesus also, saw where they put His body: “Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid” (Luke 23:55). Mark names two of these women: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of a man named Joses. Matthew mentions these two women also, apparently because they stayed by the tomb for a time: “And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave” (Matt. 27:61).

This is significant because of what came later. But at this point, Jesus was dead. What else were they to do? We know that Joseph and Nicodemus, two members of the Sanhedrin, neither having been part of Jesus’s trial, did what good Jews did: “And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Of course, this “they” could have referred to all parties, not just those two men.

Scripture is silent about the twelve—now only eleven—except to say they were locking their doors because they were afraid of the Jews. But we are told what two other groups of people did.

First were those women who had followed Joseph and Nicodemus to the tomb. They started by buying spices to anoint Jesus’s body: “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him” (Mark 16:1).

But when did they do that? The next day after the crucifixion was the Sabbath, so they wouldn’t have bought spices then. No market would be selling spices on a Sabbath. But according to Scripture, they took those spices they bought to the tomb early on the first day of the week—the day after the Sabbath. So either Mark got it wrong and the women already had the spices or the inspired Word of God is true even on this point, and we’ve merely misinterpreted the time frame.

By accepting the idea that the Sabbath following Jesus’s crucifixion was a Special Sabbath, we can then read these events as follows: all the Jews rested as was commanded. Then the day after the Special Sabbath, the women bought and prepared the spices (Luke 23:56a). The following day would be the regular Sabbath during which they would again rest, so the earliest they could have made it to the tomb was the first day of the week, early Sunday morning.

The second group Scripture follows during this period were the Pharisees, though “follow” is a little to expansive. The day after the crucifixion, they once again met with Pilate, this time to get his help guarding the tomb.

Jesus had said often enough that He would rise on the third day, that they got the message, even though they didn’t believe it. Their assumption was that His disciples would take things into their own hands and fake a resurrection by stealing away Christ’s body. The Pharisees were afraid of what would happen if that story got out.

Pilate granted them Roman troops—or perhaps they had a Roman contingent at their disposal on a regular basis and merely gained his permission to use them in this capacity. At any rate, they were able to assign guards to the tomb and even to put a seal upon it—some kind of authenticating mark, perhaps, that indicated the tomb was secured by the authority of Rome.

So now, Jesus has been buried. The disciples are afraid, the Pharisees are afraid, the women are preparing, the Romans are guarding. Apart from Jesus, none of them expected what was about to happen next.

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Published in: on April 17, 2014 at 6:11 pm  Comments Off on The Passion Of The Christ: The Days Of Silence  
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Sin and Sins


Once again, because of comments to yesterday’s post, I felt compelled to see what Scripture had to say about Sin as something inherent and sins as deeds of lawlessness. I believe in both but realized I couldn’t give chapter and verse to show from Scripture that both exist.

Interestingly, I came away from my study (reluctantly—it’s really interesting to read the Bible asking one focused question like that) with the conviction that the sin nature of man does exist, but I don’t see it by name. It’s actually somewhat amusing to me because some time ago I did a similar study to defend the existence of free will, and in the same way found that term is not one the Bible uses in the same theological way we use it today.

(For those of you who don’t see the issue as amusing, it’s because those most adamant in their belief in free will—not named as such in the Bible—are most likely the ones who disbelieve the concept of the sin nature—not named as such in the Bible. And vice versa. Irony! 😀 )

Be that as it may, how do I remain convinced Mankind has a sin nature? For one, the Genesis 5 passage I quoted yesterday sets the stage. Other passages must take this fundamental truth into consideration.

But what other passages? First, I want to reiterate that I do not believe in “proof texts.” I believe the Bible as a unit tells us what God wants us to know. To isolate one verse from its context can distort Truth. Not always. But Scripture should be examined in light of Scripture.

In that vein, then, I think no one would disagree with Kameron that sins are acts, thoughts, attitudes of lawlessness. In addition, Romans, supported by a plethora of verses, makes it clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The disagreement, as I understand it, is what compels all to sin. I can’t help but think this is a semantic discussion to a degree. Clearly, something must be acting on Mankind. Is it a corrupted will? The flesh? I’ve understood this to be the sin nature—another name for “the flesh”—which each person inherited, going back to Genesis when Seth was born in the likeness of Adam.

Paul’s argument in the book of Romans that sin entered through the disobedience of one man seems to bear this out. The entire discussion is in chapter 5, but here’s the key verse: “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (v. 19, emphasis mine).

Couple that with Romans 3 and Paul’s Old Testament quote: “There is none righteous, not even one.” The implication would seem to be the condition in which Mankind exists.

Romans also refers to man being a slave to sin, clearly a picture of a condition without options: “Though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart … and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness …For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness … But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”

Still more from Romans—the concept of an old self and a new self. “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”

This concept also makes sense of Jesus’s statements to Nicodemus in John 3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God … That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Another convincing reference is Paul’s characterization of us as sinners: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Clearly this doesn’t mean while we were in the midst of some lawless act. I wasn’t even born then. A verse or two later, he refers to us as “enemies.”

Finally, for the purpose of this blog post, Paul also discusses reconciliation with God, as if something separated us from Him, made us enemies, but no longer does. And yet he also exhorts believers to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies, to not go on presenting the members of our bodies to sin as instruments of unrighteousness. The implication is that believers still must battle sinning.

What then, did Christ do that brought reconciliation? His blood sacrifice was a payment for sins, yes, which cancelled our debt and stamped us forgiven, but His death and resurrection was also victory over Sin, over the corruption that ruled our hearts.

Published in: on June 3, 2008 at 11:48 am  Comments (5)  
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