He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death – Isaiah 53:9
For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin – Rom 6: 7
“Living he loved me, dying he saved me, buried he carried my sin far away” – Hymn
The greatest failing in people’s belief, is the lack of any real difference in their lives, once and if they ever express any faith in Jesus Christ. With no difference or change in our lives, we soon tire of trying to maintain the façade, and before long, any faith will simply be a memory. With such a high calling to be light in darkness, why is that so few experience any real change. Yet Paul tells us that we have been set free from sin?
After the death of Christ came the burial of Christ, and it is most important. In Romans 6, Paul says we are buried with him in his death, through baptism. Historically, Jesus should not have been buried; in Jerusalem, bodies of criminals were thrown outside of the South side of the City, a place known as ‘Gehenna’ (from which we get our place Hell). It was a garbage dump, where a fire burned continuously and where criminals were thrown, along with the rubbish and dead animals.
Most importantly, Jesus was not placed there and the reason is significant. In the early Easter morning, the Jewish Sanhedrin counsel met to decide what to do with his body post-crucifixion – there were 71 members plus a chairman, or High Priest. The decision though, was not unanimous there were 2 against; Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43) and Nicodemus (John 3). They had advanced warning Jesus was going to die, so Joseph approached Pilate to take the body away, and the remarkable prophecy in Isaiah 53 was fulfilled. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but it was with the rich man that he was placed in a tomb.
Why is this significant?
Well, there is a finality to burial. When a person dies, between that time and their burial, we often speak of the person in the present tense. When they are buried, we speak of them in the past tense. Burial is final, it is complete. When something is ‘dead and buried’ we mean it is over and done with. We don’t just say it is dead.
In Isaiah 53:9, the prophet is talking about what is happening with our sin. It is our being buried with him, that releases us from our sin so that it is remembered no longer. Properly repenting from our sin, then being baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit is a significant factor in this process, there is no doubt. We also need to believe though, about what the Bible tells us about our state when we put our faith in Christ.
We don’t believe this though do we, we fear that our sin is still there and we remain in fear, or walk away empty handed. We find it difficult to agree with Rom 8:1, “therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
If we understand justified, if we understand the Son, if we understand buried then we will understand there is nothing left for us to be accused of. We must remember there are two who speak to us of our sin, the devil and the Holy Spirit. There is a difference. The devil condemns us while the Holy Spirit convicts. Condemnation wraps us like we are enveloped in cling film, conviction leads us to cleansing and forgiveness. In Isaiah 53:12, we are told that he, Jesus, was numbered with the transgressors (he was identified as one of us in front of God) so that he might make intercession (he stands on our behalf between us and the Father, speaking on our behalf). It is a beautiful picture to dwell on this Easter.
It is remarkable to consider that Paul, the converted Pharisee who wrote half the New Testament, never penned any confession of sin. Nowhere is there any mention of defect, or shortcoming, or failure in his duty to those he served. On the contrary, his authorship vindicates himself more towards a faultless life before both God and men. “you are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed” (1 Thess 2:10, 2 Cor 1:12). This was no aspiration either, it was an admission of what his actual life had been. How could that be?
Surely it points to a life lived out in both the power of the Holy Spirit, as well as total understanding that with Christ’s death and burial comes utter freedom for all who would believe without any doubt.
We must grasp this about the Easter story, such that we be set free. All we end up with otherwise is religion. While we maybe justified before God, we might never be changed towards the likeness of his Son.
This Easter, let us seek our transformation towards his likeness above all else.