The Burial of The Son of God
Community Group Discussion Guide
Summary of Sermon
This message discusses the death and burial of The Son of God. The writers of the New Testament wanted clearly to show that Jesus was God in the flesh and had in fact died a very violent physical death upon the cross. There were Gnostics who denied that Christ had actually come in the flesh. Gnostics believe the material world is completely evil, therefore, they believe Jesus came in spirit only. John goes so far as to call them anti-Christ. Evidently there was a branch of Judaism which also followed the gnostic line of reasoning. The question is raised if this could have had an influence on the religious leaders rejection of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Prophecies concerning the messiah as the suffering servant.. The question of what Jesus did while He was in the tomb is also discussed based on 1 Peter 3:18-22.

Discussion Questions
Ice Breaker - How many of you have seen the movie Noah? If you did, what were your initial thoughts? Did finding out it was not based on the Bible but on Gnostic writings help explain some of the major inconsistencies with the Biblical story?

1. Jesus suffered physically, emotionally and spiritually. However, the Biblical writers went to great links to show that Jesus died a real, physical death and was buried in a tomb. He was not just unconscious or asleep. Why was this so important?

Heb 9:22  In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Rom 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:9  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
Rom 5:10  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

2. The timing of Jesus’ death and burial were no accident. They coincided with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Why do you think God chose this time and what message did it hold for the Jews back then and for us today?
Exo 12:21  Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb.
Exo 12:22  Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning.
Exo 12:23  When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

John 1:29  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

3. The religious leaders seemed blinded to the fact Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies spoken by Isaiah concerning the Suffering Servant and the Messiah. What do you think caused this blindness and what do you think causes the same blindness in many still today?
Isa 53:3  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4  Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isa 53:6  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7  He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.



Full Sermon Notes

Today is a very special day in the life of Christians around the world. Palm Sunday. A day when we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus in to Jerusalem. It's also a time when we remember how quickly things went from rejoicing to rejection. When Jesus did not fulfill the expectations of the crowd to overthrow the Romans and restore Israel to power, it went from "blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord" to "crucify Him."

Last week we established why Jesus died. He died in order to offer salvation to all who would believe. He died because He knew through His death He could defeat Satan, sin, death and the grave. He died because He knew through His death He could give life to all who would receive that life! He knew through His death He could make a way for humankind to be reconciled to Father God!! He died because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him would never perish, but would have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him! John 3:l6-17.

Let's pray and then we'll pick up our story, just after the crucifixion in the Gospel of John.

PRAY

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.
33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”
37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.
39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.
42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Folks, Jesus wasn't asleep! He was indeed dead. His life blood had been shed and poured out. There was no longer breath in His Body! Of course His Spirit was not dead. His Spirit was very much alive, but His Body was literally dead. Even the Roman soldiers recognized this fact.

Now I need to let you know one of the reasons it was so important for the writers of the Bible to emphasize the death of Jesus and the burial of His body was this: There was a group of people known as Gnostics who denied that Jesus even had a body.

They denied the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus. They believed the material world was all bad and only the spiritual world was good. Because the material world was all bad, they believed God would never have taken on real human form with a body.

They believed Jesus was only a Spirit who appeared to have a body! Here's what John had to say about this in his 1st epistle...

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.

The writers of the New Testament spent much of their time refuting the lies of the Gnostics. Gnostics claimed to have a special secret knowledge only available to the elect or spiritually chosen ones.

They believed they had a spark of the divine and were thus superior to all others. They believed knowledge trumped faith and that redemption and salvation were not by faith but by knowledge! Wow! Are we not seeing a resurgence of this kind of belief today.

So many in the world look down and even pity those of us who have faith. Those of us who believe in a Creator God who is all all-knowing, all-powerful, for all time. A creator God who loved us enough to leave the splendor of heaven and take on human flesh in order to deliver us from our sin!

A Creator God who loved us so much He was willing to reveal His truth to us through Scriptures, the written revelation and through His Son, the living revelation! And by the way, God doesn't want His truth to be a secret. He wants it to be known to all who will listen.

Paul put it this way in the book of Romans...

25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past,
26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—
27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

If you ever meet someone who has a secret truth available only to a select few, be afraid, be very afraid. The truth of God and His good news is to be shouted from the rooftops.

The only time the church has to be secret is when it is under severe persecution and even then the church seeks to make the message known. When persecuted, the church finds other ways to share the truth. It may not be so public, but the desire and goal to share God's truth never goes away!

Some folks wonder what Jesus did while He was in the tomb. Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night. Some believe He traveled to hell to take care of some business based on 1 Peter 3:18-22.

I'll read this to you in a moment, but let me first tell you this. Jesus had already suffered the worst that hell could dish out when He was on the Cross. He didn't have to go to that place to suffer any more. He had already stated very plainly that His job was finished!!

He had also told the thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in paradise!" And don't forget, the Bible states very emphatically, "To be absent from the Body is to be present with the Lord!"
Having said that, let me read you the verses in question...

1 Peter 3:18-22.
18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,
19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison
20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,
21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand —with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

This is one of the most debated passages of 
Scripture in all of the Bible. Some very Godly men have different opinions, but regardless of your view of where Jesus spent His time spiritually while in the tomb, we know His body was in the tomb until Sunday morning.

When you look at the construction of the passage in the Greek language, a participle phrase without a definite article, it is saying Jesus spoke by way of the Holy Spirit back in the days of Noah to the those people who were now imprisoned spirits.  

Ray Summers, who wrote in the Broadman Commentary made the the following statement...

"It is more natural to think of Noah's preaching as the instrument through which Christ 'preached'. Every blow of Noah's hammer was a call to repentance in view of coming judgment. The call went unheeded even though God's patience waited for a response."

It may have taken as many as 75 years for Noah and his sons to build the ark. You might remember also that people lived much longer back in those days. 75 years. And, no, there is no mention in the Bible of giant rock beings helping them build the ark as portrayed in the Noah movie.

I believe God used every single day of every single year it took to build the ark to give people every opportunity possible to turn from their wickedness and embrace His love. What if there had been a revival and many people had turned to God and accepted Noah's message?

Well, I guess there would have been a whole lot more folks to work on the boat, and they could have built more than one ark. But that didn't happen. Now let me share with you something very interesting. Before the Gnostics of the New Testament, there were Jewish Gnostics.

Time will not permit me to go into detail, but Dr. Nave sent me a very interesting article written by Dr. Brian Mattison and it's fascinating. This article speaks of Darren Aronofsky's movie Noah, which is not based on the Bible, but on an ancient Jewish philosophy known as Kabbalah.

This is also what Aronofsky's first movie, "Pi" was based on. In this gnostic type philosophy, there are various levels of God and they believe it was a low level part of God that created the material world. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Brian Mattison's website on Gnosticism. According to Gnostics...

"the Creator of the material world is an ignorant, arrogant, jealous, exclusive, violent, low-level, ... son of a low level deity. He’s responsible for creating the “unspiritual” world of flesh and matter, and he himself is so ignorant of the spiritual world he fancies himself the “only God” and demands absolute obedience. They generally call him 'Yahweh.'"

Wow! It's hard for me to even read that. Dr. Mattison also points out that gnostics believe, and I quote...

"This Creator tries to keep Adam and Eve from the true knowledge of the divine and,  

when they disobey, flies into a rage and boots them from the garden."

In other words, in case you’re losing the plot here: The serpent was right all along.

This “god,” “The Creator,” whom they are worshiping is withholding something

from them that the serpent will provide: divinity itself."

This is so disturbing, but if you ever wondered if there is an agenda to what Hollywood is putting out there for our consumption, this should end all doubts.
It's the same age old lies in a new age.  

Satan is still tempting us with this provocative idea that with the right knowledge we can become divine beings. And by the way, there are now over 40 cities with Kabbalah Centers that teach this stuff along with their strong online presence.  

Okay, what in the world does this have to do with the death and the burial of God's Son? Let's go back to our text...

John 19:31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.

And isn't it ironic that the special day they were preparing for was the Passover. The day when all Israel remembered the final  plague that brought their deliverance from the Egyptians.

The death angle had passed over the Hebrew homes because they had sacrificed a lamb and smeared the blood on their doorpost. God had done so much for the Hebrew people in the past.

He loved them! He had chosen to work through them to teach the world His law and to show the world His love. However, they just never seemed to get this. And once again He had come to His people, but they had rejected Him yet again.

I have a question for you. How in the world could these religious leaders even be thinking about a special day of worship after knowingly putting to death an innocent man?

And then to order one last act of cruelty to break the legs of Jesus. Although the soldiers didn't break His legs, because He was already dead. Why break the legs?

It was to prevent the crucified person from lifting themselves up in order to relieve pressure from the lungs so they could breath. This would insure a quick death. Here's something I thought of during this week of study.

Maybe, just maybe, the religious leaders who ordered the death of Jesus had some of this early, gnostic, Kabbalah understanding. Maybe they believed that God would never clothe Himself in human flesh.

Maybe that's how they could overlook the very clear prophecies in their own Scriptures that pointed to Yeshua the Messiah coming in the flesh to suffer for the Nation of Israel.

Let me read to you a description of the death of The Son of God as recorded in Jewish prophecy through Isaiah some 700 years before Jesus. Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12...

13 See, my servant will act wisely ; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

The religious leaders of Jesus' day thought this meant the Messiah would be lifted up to the throne of an earthly kingdom and exalted as an earthly king. But this prophecy was speaking of a form of torture that had yet to be invented. A Cross. Listen closely to the prophecy...

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him —his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness —

Think crown of thorns and 39 lashes with the cat of nine tails whip...

15 so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Think...He was just Joseph and Mary's boy. The son of a lowly carpenter.

3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

Fast forward some 700 years…Matthew 27:39ff

Matt 27:39
39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads

40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.
42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”

Now back 700 years to Isaiah again, and as I'm reading this ancient prophecy, please continue to make mental notes of our text for today… Isaiah continued...

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Think sword in His side. Think weight of the Cross. Think nails in His hands and feet.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Think crucified between two criminals and think borrowed tomb from the rich man Joseph of Arimathea.   

10 Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light └of life┘ and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Think, "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing!"
And you know what? This is the very reason Jesus allowed Himself to be put to death and buried in a tomb. He did this so He could defeat death and the grave for the very people who had crucified Him.

Jesus wanted to make a way for any person who was willing to turn away from their sin and turn to God to know they would be forgiven, cleansed, and accepted into the family of God!

1 Corinthians 15:55-57
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.