Matthew 27:57-61 (Part 2) – Cute Little Girl Hand Wave Or Just A Regular Hand Wave?

Posted: May 3, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 27:57-61 (Part 2)

Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

There is a bone of contention between my wife and me. It’s not a deal breaker but it is a small little detail about the beginning of our relationship almost 10 years ago now. We had both moved into really nice apartment community on the Catawba River in Rock Hill, SC. Prior to our moving into this community separately, we had never laid eyes on one another EVER. There were no mutual friends as I had spent most of my formative and adult years in the northern or western suburbs of the Greenville, SC area and she had spent virtually all of her life in the western or southern suburbs of the Charlotte area. Two metropolitan areas that are close geographically but might as well be light years from each other. But in God’s providence we are brought together in Rock Hill, SC, one of the major suburbs of Charlotte, on its directly southern side. So, back to this bone of contention of sorts. When I first started noticing her around the apartment complex (I had moved in 10 months before her), I thought she was a cute little trick that I needed to get to know, being the “ladies’ man” I was at the time. To look at me now at 53 with an additional 35 pounds on me, you would think so but 10 years ago it was, I like to think, true. So, I started waving at her when I saw her. At first, she would not return the wave because of her apparent shyness. But, as time goes by, she begins to wave back. And eventually, that wave became the cute little girl wave. You know the one! The one where they make a small C out of the hand and put it right next to their face as the wave. It’s the “you make me feel like a giggly little girl when I think of you” wave. To this day, Elena denies ever, ever, EVER doing the “cute little girl” wave at me. She says I wanted to see that, but it is my contention that it was real and it really happened. It is, I guess, a moot point now because we started talking soon after. We started dating not long after that and we started going steady, as we called when I was a teenager, in October 2007 and were married in March 2010. But the “cute little girl wave” never happened, right, Elena?

 

Why do I use this illustration this morning? It points out that there are bones of contention about what Jesus’ death signifies between believers and non-believers. Let’s read today’s passage together, Matthew 27:57-61:

 

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

 

It is a certainty accepted by all that Jesus Christ was an actual historical figure. It is a certainty accepted by all, described in the Bible and verified by extrabiblical sources, that Jesus Christ was crucified and died that gruesome kind of death on the cross. These facts are commonly accepted by virtually all non-believers as well as by believers. That Jesus existed, that Jesus Christ died a public death are indisputable historical facts. Non-believers and believers can agree on these points. Then, there’s the bone of contention that comes into these commonly accepted facts. Elena and I have many points of agreement about how we met and those early days of our relationship, but enter the bone of contention, where we disagree about the form and the meaning of the flirtatious wave or just a wave. My definition of the wave is packed with meaning. Elena’s definition of the wave is that it is just a mere historical fact that she waved. Packed with meaning vs. mere historical fact. To the believer in Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord, the death of Jesus Christ is packed with meaning, both sorrowful and joyful. To the non-believer, Jesus’ death is just the sad end to one of the world’s greatest philosophers, one of the world’s greatest radical rabbis, one of the world’s greatest anti-establishment revolutionaries, a Ghandi of sorts of the 1st century. There is that major bone of contention between those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and those who have not.

 

Just as Elena’s supposed “cute little girl wave”, according to me, was packed with meaning to me. It meant that she found me worth showing more than just a regular wave that you show anybody. She gave me the wave that meant, Hey I think you are cute. It drew me in. It made me want to get to know her better. Just a regular wave would have drawn me in. I don’t think so. Jesus death as just another dead prophet death does not draw us in. It does not make us want to get to know this Jesus on a personal level. What makes this death important is that there was, indeed, a deeper and eternal meaning to it. It was not just another death. Jesus’ death was packed with meaning far beyond just a man dying on a cross on a hill just outside Jerusalem that the Romans used for executing enemies of the state. Why does it have a deeper meaning to a believer than a non-believer? It is because God revealed in His Word that the purpose of Jesus death has far reaching implications for us all, believer and non-believers alike. It is packed with meaning according to God. What is that meaning?

 

The cross and the death of Jesus Christ are important to us as believers because we first have faith that Jesus is more than just a man. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We believe that He is of one and the same essence as God. We believe that there are three aspects of this one God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This Trinitarian nature of God has existed eternally and the Son, Jesus Christ, is eternal in nature as part of that trinity. Thus, for those who believe God’s truth as revealed in His Word, then Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. He left the trinity and came to earth as a man for a specific purpose. He came to live a perfect sinless life so that the could be a sacrifice for our sins. We realize as believers that no matter how much good you think you can do in life it cannot make up for the first sin much less the tons of sins we have committed and continue to commit daily since we committed that first sin. However, it is the first sin that we commit as the result of our propensity toward sin that taints us in God’s eyes. One sin is all it takes. It’s like pouring kool aid crystals in water. The color of the water and chemical makeup of the water is changed forever once the crystals are introduced. It is no longer pure water. It is something else. Sin is like that for us. Once sin is committed, we’re done. We’re finished. We have imperfection when we have sin and nothing imperfect and tainted by sin can exist in the presence of a perfect and holy God. So, we are condemned to eternal damnation in hell for our sins. That’s right, we are condemned to hell by our first sin and we are confirmed in that sentence with each sin we commit after the first one. And there is an absolute certainty, 100% likely, that we will commit sin because of the sin nature that we inherited from our ancestors all the way back to the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. We are doomed to hell. Each one of us is doomed to hell because of our sins. We are sinners plain and simple. No ifs ands or buts. We are sinners. No doing more good than bad. It is not a game where we will tally up the rummy scores at the end of the game. The fact that we sin ends the game. We are done. We have lost the game from the time that clock starts running in the football game. We need an intervention of some sort to make us right with God because we cannot out-good or first bad deed, our first sin, much less than layers of iniquity that we pile on top of that first one during our lifetimes.

 

We have no justification before the Lord when our judgment comes. He will reveal every sin we have ever committed. Sins of action. Sins of the mind. Sins of the heart. All of it is imperfection. All of it we try to hide, but we know as believers that it is a delusional lie to think that we can do more good than bad. We are simply bad by nature and anyone who believes otherwise is just kidding themselves. We need help. We need Jesus. We need Jesus to do what He did on Calvary. Because there, God tell us, that He poured out all His wrath on Jesus Christ for the punishment that every man ever born or who will be born deserves for our multitudes of sins that forever separate us from God. Jesus was the only perfect man who ever lived. There was no sin in Him. Thus, he was the perfect, spotless sacrifice before a perfect, spotless God to take on the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind, past, present and future. Even though Jesus died on the cross 20 centuries ago, He took on the wrath of all sin for all time. That means He took on the sins that you and I have committed and will commit. He took God’s punishment for what you and I deserve in our tainted imperfection. He took on the punishment for all the sins we have committed, both the obvious public ones and even those that you have kept hidden from the world. He knows those sins too and He has taken the punishment for each and every sin that we have committed.

 

All it takes for us to enjoy eternity in heaven is to believe that this is what Jesus’ death does for us. God tells us that this was the purpose of Jesus’ death. All you have to do is believe that you are made right with God by Jesus’ atoning death for all your sins of your lifetime. Knowing the truth about our sins, that our first sin taints us and separates us from God and that each subsequent sin confirms that fate, makes this death important. Knowing that we cannot do enough good deeds to make up for our first sin much less the multitudes of sins we commit after the first one makes this death of the most important death of all. That this death reconciles us with God. That this death and through our belief in its purpose gives us freedom from our deserved fate in hell makes it more than just a death of a first century Ghandi like philosopher. It makes it the most important act of love ever performed. It makes it the recipe of reconciliation devised by a loving but just God.

 

Sometimes a hand wave can mean more than you think. And it is certain that this death is more than just a death of a prophet. It is laid out there before us. All we must do is believe that this is just more than a death. It is our reconciliation point with God. It draws us back into the presence of God. It is the most important event in human history.

 

Packed with meaning or just a death. Pack with meaning or just a hand wave. How do you perceive this death of Jesus Christ?

 

Amen and Amen.

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