I Believe in Jesus… Buried

I believe buried

The next word we will look at in the Apostles’ Creed is “buried.” Why is this word singled out in a list of early Christian beliefs? Was Jesus buried?

Was Jesus buried?

First, the fact that Jesus was buried is yet another confirmation that He actually died on the cross. After all, if you go to bury a friend, and discover that he is still alive, you certainly don’t bury him as Joseph and Nicodemus did. Rather, you would search out the best medical care available. 

Second, criminals who died by crucifixion in that time were not ordinarily buried, so the fact that Jesus was is significant. James Dodds explains, 

In ordinary circumstances, the body of a crucified person would not have received burial. It was the Roman custom to leave the bodies of slaves and criminals, who alone were subjected to this punishment, suspended on the cross, a prey to beasts and birds, and when these and the elements had done their work upon the flesh, the remains were ignominiously cast out.[1]

There is also prophetic significance in the place where He was buried. Isaiah 53:9 says this about the Suffering Servant: “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.” R.C. Sproul comments, “In the irony of fulfillment, Jesus is first numbered with the wicked, dying like a criminal in the company of criminals, yet he gains the burial of the rich.”[2]

Next, as Albert Mohler explains,

The burial narrative of Christ provides a vivid illustration of the weight of Christ’s atoning work. In Jesus’ tomb the Son of God lay dead. The tomb, however, should not be for Jesus Christ but for his people. The tomb represents the extent of God’s love and the cost of our sin. The burial of the Son of God displays the paradoxical unity of the full horror of human sin and the illustrious, cosmic, infinite, and scandalous love of God for us in Christ.[3]

Thomas Perdue explains how Jesus’ burial relates to Old Testament scapegoat. He writes, 

That final disposition of sin is accomplished in Jesus’ burial. He went into the tomb a sin offering sacrificed unto death. He came out completely unrelated to the burden of sin. Such is the doctrinal significance of the words, “and… was buried.” There could be no tracing of the disposition of sin achieved in the tomb as there was never tracing of the further life and existence of the scapegoat after it was released in the wilderness. In that burial which was an aspect of Christ’s undertaking in behalf of the believer’s sin nature, too, there is also evidently a disposition of those judgments which duly fell upon him.[4]

God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

Go Deeper

[1] James Dodds, Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, ebook, p. 43.

[2] R.C. Sproul, What We Believe (Baker Publishing Group, Kindle Edition), p. 129

[3] R. Albert Mohler, The Apostles’ Creed (Thomas Nelson, Kindle Edition), p. 87

[4] Thomas H. Perdue, Passover & Sukkot (AuthorHouse, 2011), pp. 205-206

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