“That He Was Buried”: The First Importance of the Body in the Tomb

Jesus being wrapped for burialRightly so, believers emphasize the death and resurrection of Jesus. The death of Jesus was an atoning work on behalf of sinners, and his resurrection was the firstfruits of new creation. Furthermore, his death and resurrection were the fulfillment of Holy Scripture. Paul told the Corinthians that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3) and that “he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (15:4).

But Paul mentions something else that is of “first importance” (1 Cor 15:3a). Between Jesus’ death and resurrection, “he was buried” (15:4). Does that seem like an unnecessary detail? Why mention what could just be implied? Ponder why it matters that Jesus was buried.

The burial confirms Jesus’ death. Burial is for what’s dead, and Roman soldiers knew how to crucify people. Carrying a cross to the place of crucifixion was a one-way trip. His body in the tomb confirmed the success of the cross.

The burial prepares us for the empty tomb. The detail of the burial was significant because of a different detail soon to be proclaimed about the tomb. Two days later, the empty tomb required explanation because a body once lay there.

The burial reminds us of Jesus’ humanity. Burial is for bodies, and the Word had become flesh. The physical body of Jesus had been born and wrapped in swaddling cloths, and decades later it was wrapped in burial linens. The Son of God was truly, fully, wonderfully human.

The burial informs baptism and union with Christ. Paul wrote that believers died with Christ (Rom. 6:8) and were raised with him to new life (6:4, 11). But he also says “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death . . .” (6:4).

Article for JBMW: “God’s Judgment on His Blessing: How Genesis 1:28 Informs the Punishments on Adam and Eve”

In the latest installment (18.1) of the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (JBMW), I wrote an article on pp. 16-21 about how Genesis 1:28 serves as an important backdrop to the punishments on Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:16-19.

The new installment of the journal is now live, and my article is called “God’s Judgment on His Blessing: How Genesis 1:28 Informs the Punishments on Adam and Eve.”

The outline of the article looks like this:
I. Introduction
II. The Creation Commission
III. The Context of the Judgments
IV. Echoes of Genesis 1:28 in 3:16
A. Pain in Childbearing
B. Domination in Marriage
Echoes of Genesis 1:28 in 3:17-19
A. Toilsome Work
B. Death in the Dust
V. Implications for Readers of Genesis
VI. Conclusion

 

7 Sentences Summarizing the Bible’s Teaching about the “Image of God”

The Bible’s teaching about the “image of God” is important to trace and understand.  Here’s a 7-step summary of it:

(1) God made man in His image to fill the earth with image-bearers who represent Him and rule over creation with wisdom and royal dominion (Gen 1:26-28).

(2) After the Fall, mankind still bears the image of God (Gen 5:3; 9:6; Jam 3:9).

(3) Because of sin, though, unregenerate image-bearers cannot function as faithful representatives of God’s rule because of the corruption of sin and subsequent idolatry (Rom 1:18, 21-23, 25; 3:23).

(4) But God never recanted His creation mandate about multiplying the earth with image-bearers and exercising dominion (e.g. Gen 15:5 17:6, 20; 22:17; 26:22; 28:3; 35:11; 41:52; 47:27; 48:4).

(5) At the appointed time, God sent into the world His Son, an unmade Person who is the very image of God (Col 1:15; Heb 1:3; 2 Cor 4:4), who–by virtue of his death and resurrection–has all authority over heaven and earth and has been given the name above every name, over any opposing power, over every conceivable dominion (Eph 1:21; Phil 2:9; Col 1:16; 2:15).

(6) Now, when sinners are united to Christ by the Spirit through saving faith, the image of God is being restored in believers as we are being inwardly renewed (2 Cor 4:16; Eph 4:23) and transformed into Christ’s image (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10; 2 Cor 3:18; Rom 8:29), so that we can rightly represent Him as the Church of God mediating the knowledge of Him to the world (Matt 28:18-20; 1 Pet 2:9; Col 2:10; Eph 3:8-9; Phil 2:15).

(7) God will complete the restoration of His image in us when Christ returns to raise the dead, for only then will we–who for now return to dust at death–exercise dominion over God’s renewed world in incorruptible bodies in the likeness of the Last Adam (1 Cor 15:45-49).

Psalm 24, Part 6/10: “The Justified Generation of Seekers”

In this Davidic psalm, God’s ownership over all creation is established in the opening verses (24:1-2), and then the question of who can ascend to meet with God is asked (24:3).  Those who worship and fellowship with God are those who trust him with their hearts and obey him with their lives (24:4).  Such faith is counted as righteousness, which is the blessing of justification (24:5).

David then describes those who receive salvation from God:

24:6
“Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob”

David had previously written that God looked down from heaven to see if there were any who sought him (Psalm 14:2), but, tragically, everyone had turned aside to his own way (14:3).  Paul quotes this same psalm in Romans 3:11 to argue that no one seeks God on their own.  In our fallenness, apart from God’s Spirit, we go the way of destruction.

But now David describes seekers, people “who seek the face of the God of Jacob.”  These people have trusted in God rather than idols (Psalm 24:4), so God has saved them by counting their faith as righteousness.  These people (the saved) now become the seekers.  They are the justified generation.

The unsaved don’t seek the face of God.  The unsaved spit in his face, mock his name, exchange his glory for idolatry, and embrace lies rather than truth.

Those with the status of righteousness have been freed from their blindness.  Those in the right now seek what is right, namely, God.

Psalm 24, Part 4/10: “Trust and Obey”

In this fourth installment of our walk through Psalm 24, we arrive at v. 4.  David has just posed the question of who can abide in the presence of God and offer true worship (v. 3).  Now David gives the answer to this burning question.

24:4
“He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully”

Let’s observe that David gives two positive phrases followed by two negative phrases.  The worshiper of Yahweh, then, has things that are true about him, as well as things that can’t be attributed to him.

Furthermore, let’s note an interesting outer/inner arrangement of these requirements.  Hands come first, then the heart, then the soul, and finally the mouth (which is used to “swear deceitfully”).  The pattern is like this:

                                    OUTER:      Hands
                                         INNER:             Heart
                                         INNER:             Soul
                                    OUTER:      Mouth 

The center of this arrangement indicates David’s emphasis: the inward disposition of the person matters most.  Yahweh rejects vain worship, which is worship offered when the heart is far from him (Matthew 15:8-9).

Outward acts of obedience honor God when they overflow from a heart that trusts him.  To “not lift up” one’s soul to “what is false” means to reject idolatry and entrust one’s soul to the only true God.  Belief in Yahweh results in obedience to him.

The requirements of clean hands and truthful mouths refer to relations with one’s neighbor.  Clean hands are innocent of wrongdoing toward others, and a truthful mouth refers to someone who has not deceived his neighbor or broken an oath.

Now consider the fact that both trusting God rather than idols and maintaining honest relations with others refer to the Law of Moses represented by the Ten Commandments.  Right relations with God and neighbor are, in fact, how Jesus summarized the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:36-40).

What, in essence, are the requirements cited by David for the one who goes before God?  God receives those who keep his law, those who trust him with their heart and then demonstrate their faith with obedience.

But here’s the reality: we have all broken God’s law.  We have often given our hearts to created things and thus are guilty of idolatry.  And we have treated others with dishonesty and disdain.  In the mirror of God’s law, our hearts aren’t pure and our hands aren’t clean.  We are guilty, corrupt, condemnable.

If we come to God on any merit of our own, we fall short of his glory and cannot stand in his presence.  He is holy, but we are not.  Our faith frequently falters, and our flesh is weak.

The meaning of Psalm 24:4 is not ultimately fulfilled in us.  Only one Person in history could go before God with clean hands and a pure heart, Someone who never committed idolatry and who always acted with purity and integrity toward others.  Only one Person has ever ascended the hill of Yahweh and boldly entered the holy place on the basis of his own merits.

But more on Him later.

Psalm 24, Part 3/10: “The Most Important Question”

Psalm 24 has a threefold structure which exalts God as Creator (vv. 1-2), as holy (vv. 3-6), and as King (vv. 7-10).  In our 10-part series of this Davidic psalm, we now arrive at v. 3.

24:3
“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?”

In parallel fashion, the “hill of the LORD” and “his holy place” both refer to Jerusalem, which was the city on a hill and the place of temple.  Granted, when David wrote this psalm, the temple wasn’t yet constructed, but the ark of God had entered the city nonetheless (2 Samuel 6:12-19).

The verbs “ascend” and “stand” evoke the picture of pilgrims approaching Jerusalem for the purpose of worship.  The questions pertain to the kind of person who can approach the presence of God.  In fact, these two parallel questions are really asking one: given that God owns all and made all (v. 1), who can stand before him?

That question might surprise you, perhaps even seem out of place.  After all, wasn’t David talking about God establishing the world upon the seas?  Now, suddenly, we’re reading about a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the city on a hill.

But the questions in v. 3 aren’t out of place.  In fact, the Bible holds together God’s role as Creator and his worthiness to be worshiped by what he made (Psalm 148:5).  Since Yahweh alone made the heavens and earth, his right to be worshiped extends throughout his creation.

But something has gone wrong in the world–and in us.  God’s eternal power and divine nature have been evident in his mighty works (Romans 1:20), but we have exchanged the worship of God for the worship of images, of idols, of creation (Romans 1:23).

Since God is not rightly worshiped by his creatures, the question must be asked by the psalmist: who can stand in the presence of God?  With whom does Yahweh fellowship?  Who can come before God and live to tell about it?