In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous weeks we’ve been looking at how Christ was humbled in order to bring us eternal life. We’ve seen that Christ was humiliated throughout his life on earth and also by his death on the cross. Now I want to show that Christ was humbled after his death.
Part of the humiliation of death is the state of your body after death. Once you die, you cease to have any kind of control over your body. People have taken great advantage of this fact throughout history and have mutilated the bodies of their enemies. I’ve just been reading about the life of Richard III, the King of England. Many hated Richard and so when he was killed in battle, his body was treated with contempt. Churchill writes in his historical account: ‘Richard’s corpse, naked, and torn by wounds, was bound across a horse, with his head and long hair hanging down, bloody and hideous, and in this condition borne into Leicester for all men to see.’
Now Christ’s body was not humiliated to the extent that the body of Richard III was, yet the fact that his dead body remained on earth after death was humiliating in itself.
After his death, we see that the body of Jesus was given to two of his followers, who prepared it and then buried it: ‘Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus…With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there’ (John 19:38-42).
The body of Jesus then remained three days in the state of death. Paul says ‘For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Although we see the body of Christ treated with great respect, nonetheless it is a humiliating fact that the body of the Son of God remained three days buried in the earth.
So why would Jesus, who never needed to experience such humiliation, humble himself and endure such treatment of his body? Because of our sin we deserve to be humiliated for eternity in hell. But thankfully Jesus takes the eternal humility we deserve so we can have eternal glory instead. This eternal glory comes by trusting that Jesus was humiliated for you, including the humiliation of his dead body.
Do you trust in Christ’s humiliation for you so that you will have eternal glory in heaven?