Jesus Died And Was Buried, So Why Worship Him?
What kind of God would allow Himself to be so disgraced, so brutalized, killed by His own subjects? The God and Father of our Lord, and Jesus Christ His Son. The God who in His love chose to endure suffering on the cross to reconcile us to Him.
Jesus’ arrival was anticipated long before He came. In fact, He is the only person in history who was pre-announced more than a thousand years before he was born by no less than 18 different prophets that predicted his birth, life, and death. And several were impossible to fulfill, yet Jesus fulfilled them,
Isaiah 7:14 Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Micah 5:2 From you, Bethlehem, One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
Jesus made shocking and self-aware statements that went along with those prophecies. I Am the eternal One, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End; the Giver of life. Abraham rejoiced to see me (2000 years before). Moses wrote about Me (1500 years). David called Me Lord (1000). I am the only way to God; nobody comes to the Father but through Me. I am the Judge of the living and the dead and the Forgiver of sin. The dead shall hear His voice (ominous) and “unless you believe in Me,” Jesus said, accepting His provision for you, “you will die in your sins.”
Adding weight to His claims, Jesus did incredible things. While we may now be familiar with these, or we’ve seen crazier things in movies or a galaxy, far, far away. People simply don’t have the power to do these things.
Like stopping violent storms in their tracks, and casting out gruesome and frightening demons which terrified whole cities. Jesus cleansed people of leprosy & healed paralytics, caused the deaf to hear, and the blind to see. “So even if you won’t believe my words believe what my works say of me.”
His followers did. Gradually, imperfectly, in fits & starts, but they believed.
So when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and people celebrated, it made perfect sense. But by Thursday, Jesus was arrested, put on trial, and His claims were judged to be false. The religious leaders, cultural elites, and the state all decided He is not God. Not Christ. Not even good.
Many unbelievers today say Jesus is a good man; they said he’s a criminal.
When Jesus was beaten into jelly and mocked with a crown of thorns, it seemed to confirm the world’s assertions. For the cross was about judgment, control, and shame. And in all the world’s religions, what kind of god would allow himself to be treated like this?! No real god at all. So even His closest followers at this time were distancing themselves from Him.
With each lash of the whip, each strike of the nail through His flesh, each passing hour on the cross, the world looked more and more convincing, Jesus looked more pathetic, and His followers looked more foolish.
Finally at 3:00 PM Jesus breathed His last. He’s dead. A spear was thrust into His side for good measure, and for an exclamation point. As the stone was set over the tomb, his body never to be seen again, all hope was lost.
His followers are like, “How could we have missed it?! Everything He did was amazing. Everything He said rang true. Wasn’t that God’s voice that affirmed, ‘This is My Beloved Son.’ We saw Him cast demons into pigs, right?! We were in the boat with Him when He stopped that storm from drowning us in the sea.” But He is dead. It doesn’t matter. We were wrong.
EXCEPT, for months Jesus publicly stated that He was going to the capital where He’d be betrayed, arrested, executed and then rise from the dead.
And He put all the weight of every claim and promise on His resurrection.
Matthew 12:39 “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
And just weeks before this, one of Jesus’ best friends was sick. His sisters dispatched a message to Jesus, “Lazarus is really sick. Please, come quickly.” As His followers start packing for the trip, Jesus says, “We’ll stay here for awhile.” Then, once Lazarus dies, Jesus says, “Let’s go visit my friend."
So they show up and Lazarus is already dead and buried. Martha, his sister, comes out to Jesus and says, “You’re late! He’s dead. You weren’t even here for the funeral. And here we told everyone all about You, how You would heal him and instead You don’t even show up. Not only did You blow a great opportunity but you make it harder for us to trust in You.”
Jesus doesn’t apologize. He doesn’t scold her for not believing. And He doesn’t tell her, “Martha, I know how to resurrect dead people.” He says,
John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies [He’ll resurrect your body], 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die [speaking of our spirit]. Do you believe this?”
Then, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The news of this really boosted the crowd noise on Palm Sunday. This was also the miracle that united Jesus’ enemies to hatch their plot to have Him falsely arrested and executed.
So that’s all good and well. But Jesus died. He’s dead. End of story. What makes Him special or any different? Why do we still talk about Him today? Why should I or anyone trust in Him or worship Him? He’s dead. Buried!
Regarding his burial, there’s a story of a man named Joseph of Arimathea, and this takes us right into the Easter story, which gives the answer,
Luke 23:52 this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. 54 It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.
Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men [angels] suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? ||| 6 “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest… 11 But these words appeared to the men as nonsense, and they would not believe them.
“Silly woman! You probably went to the wrong tomb. C’mon, He’s dead. It’s over. We were wrong.” Except, she was right!
John 20:3 Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and [John tells us he] ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.
But Peter did. He saw the linen that was around Jesus’ body but no body.
John 20:8 So the other disciple [John] who had first come to the tomb also entered, and he saw and believed. [He believed what? That Jesus rose from the dead! That Jesus is alive. AND His promises are true and everything they’d had hoped in is real. All because of the empty tomb.] 9 [For up until this, they] did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
And remember, Jesus put the weight of all His claims on this miracle. And He did rise from the dead just as He said, just as the Scriptures said. And the world which looked so right in its judgment against Jesus, is wrong…
Everything Jesus claimed to be, He is. Every word Jesus said is true.
Jesus is the Lord and Giver of life. He reconciles us to God. What we see is not all there is. This life is not all there is. The sadness, the hurt, the struggle, sin and death—it all gets resolved. Utterly transformed and renewed,
1 Corinth. 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable [immortal, everlasting, indestructible] and we will be changed [made something new].
The other question needs to be answered—what kind of God would allow Himself to be so disgraced, so brutalized, killed by His own subjects? Until this, the answer was a weak god, a false god, or no god at all. Now the answer is the God who created us. Who has all power and dominion and authority. The God of Abraham and Isaac, Moses and David, Peter and Paul. The God and Father of our Lord, and Jesus Christ His Son. The God who in His love chose to endure suffering on the cross to reconcile us to Him.
1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the perfect payment that satisfies justice] for our sins.
Even if you were raised a skeptic. Or raised in a church that messed you up, sorry. Even if none of your friends are believers and the one Christian you know is kind of odd.
Or even if you think there is no god, or all religions believe in the same God—no, Jesus is not one god among many, or one dead man among billions. The empty tomb doesn’t allow that.
Jesus’ resurrection validated Jesus’ unique claims, and vindicated His holy name.
Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Yet there are lots of religions with their gods and founders over the centuries. But only one of them, Christianity, has a founder who was predicted to come, offered words of life, demonstrated great acts of power and love, and provided irrefutable proof of who he was by rising from the dead.
May you hear His words and believe,
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.