JOHN:The Book of Heartfelt Belief

Death and Burial

John 19:31-42


Jerry A Collins


For most of us we would agree that it is virtuous to not only begin a task but also to complete it. Some of us are better at this than others. Ruth is much more virtuous here than I am. While there are some tasks I am very willing to begin and complete, there are others I am just as prone to procrastinate about. Ruth rarely has that problem. Employers like this virtue. So do parents, coaches and teachers. We learn from the scriptures that the gospel also requires this virtue. A work had to be completed before the gospel could be the gospel. John informs us that Jesus not only began this work but he completed it when he died, was buried and was resurrected.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day... Johnís eyewitness testimony confirms this in our passage.

Everything in this passage is evidence that Jesus died a real death.

(Jesus legs left unbroken, the thrust of the spear in Jesus side, the blood and water flowing, fulfillment of scripture, Joseph and Nicodemus involvement, preparation of the body for burial, placing in the tomb, Jewish day of preparation for Passover). If Jesus never died then the Christian faith is a farce. If he did not die, then he was not raised from the dead. If he has not been raised from the dead then the gospel is untrue, preaching is useless and so is your faith. Further, all of the apostles are false witnesses of God actually witnessing against God that He raised Christ from the dead whom he did not raise. Meaning that our faith is worthless since we are still in our sins. Those who have already died before us believing this gospel have in reality perished just like we will. For them as well as for us there can only be pity (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). There cannot be a resurrection without a death! John wants us to know that Jesus was really dead. Jesus did not just swoon or sort of pass out from exhaustion and trauma only to be revived later on in the coolness of the tomb. Jesus died a real death! We have seven pieces of evidence: First, time was running out. This whole section is bracketed by the note on account of the Jewish day of preparation (31, 42). The Jews are running their two minute offense. Forced to go thru the formalities of a trial as well as gaining Pilates cooperation, they are still under time constraints to expedite this by evening so they could begin observance of Sabbath. Because of the Law (Deut 21:22-23) a body was not to remain exposed overnite and certainly not on Sabbath. One executed was under Gods curse and the body left exposed defiles the land (Gal 3:13). So all subsequent events are accelerated to ensure that does not happen. This necessity is confirmation that Jesus actually died. Second, the criminals legs were broken and Jesusí was not. Nightfall was approaching and these men had to die more quickly than normal so they could be taken down and disposed of. Romeís solution was to smash the legs causing death fairly quickly by shock, loss of blood and inability to breathe. The soldiers set out to break the legs of all three. For some reason they started on the outside waiting to deal with Jesus last. When they came to him, soldiers around death all of the time, it was apparent to them He was already dead. No need to break his legs. Jesus had died a real death. Third, Jesus body was thrust thru with a spear. One of these soldiers to make absolutely sure Jesus was dead used a spear to puncture Jesus body and body fluids blood and water flowed from the thrust. Jesus had died a real death. Fourth, is Johns personal testimony to veracity of events. John testifies not only to Jesus miraculous birth, his life and ministry (1 Jn 1) but also to Jesus death when he testifies to it after the spear is thrust into Jesus body. John takes a solemn vow and oath here as affirmation of Jesus actual death. His testimony is significant claim of truth given so others grasp and discern its importance too (20:30-31; 21:24). John never wavered from this eyewitness testimony thurout his 30 year ministry in Acts or his subsequent 30 yrs of writing John, 1,2,3 John and Revelation. For 60 years he served, ministered and wrote about Jesus Christ death, resurrection and return. Fifth, Jesus death fulfilled prophecy about His death. We learn there are two specific prophecies or types fulfilled. The first is that Jesus, as the true Passover Lamb, did not have any of His bones broken (Ex 12:46; Psa 34:20). Then people in the future will look on the pierced One (Zech 12:10; Rev 1:7). Two prophecies and types are fulfilled in one thrust. Legs are not broken and Jesus side is pierced. Everything is going exactly according to Gods plan. Sixth, secret followers come out into the open. It is remarkable that it is these two, who were afraid to confess Jesus while He was alive, did in death what they could not do when he was alive, openly acknowledge that they belonged to him. John vividly contrasts this with his description of Joseph and Nicodemus. One is described as a secret disciple for fear of the Jews and the other whose first encounter with Jesus was under cover of darkness. Yet, Joseph had opposed Jewish leaders plans to put Jesus to death (Luke 23:50-51) and Nicodemus had earlier sought to speak a word on Jesusí behalf amongst his fellow Pharisees (John 7:50-52). Here they make a public and open statement as they take Jesus body and prepare it for burial. They believed he had died and as Jesus followers respectfully, according to Jewish custom, at great expense, use burial spices, wash and wrap Jesus body for burial. And they do not care who sees them doing it. Seventh, they place Jesus body in a tomb. Since time is running out and this tomb is nearby, they place Jesus body there. Matthew tells us that this was Josephs own new tomb he had cut out of the rock (27:60). They placed Jesus there because Jesus was dead. Isaiah 53:9 prophesied that our suffering servant, though despised and rejected, would be with the rich in his death. Their service was costly, dangerous without personal gain and so ours should be equally courageous and sacrificial since service for Christ is never in vain (1 Cor 15:58).

(1) Buried in a garden Sin began there. In this garden sin met its conqueror. Jesus entered death and conquered sin and Satanís hold on us.

(2) Tomb not been in before Man had never died before sin in the garden. In this new tomb death conquered for 1st time.

(3) Near to the cross The tomb is near the cross. From the tomb, see the cross, at the cross there is resurrection/empty tomb!