Before the risen Jesus ascended to heaven, He commanded His disciples to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). The apostle Paul instructed the Corinthians that the gospel message that He received directly from the glorified Christ specifically states that Christ was buried:
1 Cor. 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
God, therefore, has ordained that we are to tell every human being that Christ was buried.
Regardless of what practices for handling dead bodies may be prevalent anywhere in the world, the Christian must convey to every person everywhere that Christ was buried. In order to do so knowledgeably, we must understand biblically why Christ was and had to be buried. To that end, this article treats three reasons that Christ was and had to be buried.
God’s Command to Bury Had to Be Obeyed
First, more than at least 1300 years before the Passion of Christ, God had commanded His people that those that they had hanged on a tree had to be buried:
Deut. 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
Peter and the apostles declared to the Jewish council and high priest that they had slain and hanged Jesus on a tree:
Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
Later in a premier evangelistic message to Gentiles, Peter preached again that the Jews had slain the anointed Jesus of Nazareth and hanged Him on a tree:
Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
Because the Jews slew and hanged Jesus on a tree, they had to bury His body in obedience to God’s command. As righteous Jews, Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus obeyed God’s command and buried His body (John 19:38-42).
Christ was and had to be buried because God’s command to bury had to be obeyed. As seen through the gospel ministry of Peter, the truth that Jesus was buried is to be proclaimed to both Jews and Gentiles—it is of worldwide importance!
Christ’s Burial Was Prophesied
Second, Christ was and had to be buried because God had prophesied that the Messiah would be buried:
Isa. 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Had Jesus of Nazareth not been buried in fulfillment of what God had prophesied, He would not and could not have been the Messiah. There would then not be any gospel of Jesus Christ to proclaim to the world.
Christ Spoke of His Body’s Being Buried
Third, before His crucifixion, Jesus of Nazareth revealed that Mary (John 11:2; 12:3) had anointed His body for His burial:
Matthew 26:12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Mark 14:8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
John 12:7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
He added that what she had done to anoint His body for His burial would be spoken of all over the world wherever the gospel would be preached:
Matthew 26:13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
Mark 14:9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
Christ was and had to be buried in order to fulfill what He said about Mary’s having anointed Him for His burial.
Had His body not been buried after His crucifixion, He would have been shown to have been wrong in what He said. Had He erred in the truthfulness of what He said concerning what Mary had done, He would not and could not have been the Messiah. There would then not be any gospel of Jesus Christ to proclaim to the world.
As the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth was and had to be buried after He had been crucified. As believers, we all must understand biblically why this is true.
We all must also proclaim to all men everywhere the gospel truth that Christ was buried. The burial of Christ is of worldwide importance!
See also my post The Biblical Importance of a Proper Burial
Picture Credit: M. Shires
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