1. Closure – emotional. For the benefit of others.
Some people do it to lessen the pain
Abraham and Sarah.
Gen 23: And Sarah was a127 years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
Traditional Jewish Burials today people symbolically participate by placing a few shovels of dirt onto the casket. The dead person can not do this for himself and can not repay or even thank the people burying him, this becomes this becomes the last act of love and kindness towards the deceased. So it comforts the living and not really the dead.
Funny, traditional Jewish burial uses a simple white garment with NO pockets meaning that they are going to the judgement of God with NOTHING to show – just merit and deeds.
A tomb is a testimony that this life that came through had recognition if nothing more than a gravestone. This again is comfort to the living and not the departed.
Burial concedes Dignity to the deceased:
Eccl 6:3 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.
So.. a person who is not a diligent steward, irresponsible and non-responsive to his blessings of a family, missed his opportunities and never earned respect.
Respect is earned!
What about Humility? Was this part of Christ’s humiliation; to be removed out of men’s sight, as too offensive for them to look on – to be hidden away in the depths of the earth, in the grave, after being mocked in life under Pontus Pilate, dressed as a King – crown of thorns, beaten publicly, crucified naked and insulted by bystanders?
It was a miracle of divine providence that Christ was buried at all. Gehanna garbage dump for criminals. But Isaiah said he would make his grave with the rich in 712 BC
2. Historical verification de Christ was buried in a tomb:
MT 27: Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure,
sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
If a door had to be sealed, it was first fastened with some ligament, over which was placed some well-compacted clay [or wax], and then impressed with the seal, so that any violation of it would be discovered at once. And of course the Romans were document freaks. It was all on record.
The reason the burial was so well documented was because it was going to be empty.
The authorities (both Jewish and Roman) made sure that His death was undeniable! The authorities outwitted themselves when they took so many precautions to make sure Jesus was dead and remained in the grave!
If the Roman or Jewish authorities could have produced the body of Jesus, all the rumors would have quickly stopped, and it all would have ended. But they could not. The empty tomb emphasizes that Jesus’ resurrection was physical! (It is emphasized in all four gospels that the body was missing)
Stalin is still in his tomb, Evita Peron, Mao Tse Tung, Mohammad, are all still in their tombs which is an eternal state of departure from this world and departure from intervention with this world. A dead body doesn’t do ANYTHING! The state of burial is a finished state. But the tomb of Christ is empty because Ac 2:24 says “whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” because Christ still participates in this world and is in fact the possessor and executor of all power of this world … and the next. His exaltation is eternal.
a. What about people with no tombs? What if we didn’t know where he was buried and went looking… here… old person…nope, here… child…nope, here? … a female…nope, not here… don’t know. But we do know.
3. Burial – What is the difference between the cross and the tomb? The cross is shameful but burial is honorable, Could Christ have accomplished the same mission by remaining on the cross as a dead body for 3 days and then coming back to life and coming down off the cross? The example for us would not be the same. Our practical identity with Him is the tomb where we are dead to the world.
We cannot identify with what Christ did on the cross. It was his cross is not your cross. He told you to pick up YOUR cross and follow him. Calvary was his cross. His cup of suffering. YOU HAVE YOUR OWN CROSS: Mt 16:24 Jesus said to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up HIS cross, and follow me. But our cross leads to our grave where we can identify with Him.
Ro 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: This is a voluntary action on our part. A decision.1 Pe 2:11 says abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; dead body don’t respond! Be dead to the world by resigning yourself to God in patience and perseverance. You cannot be resurrected unless you are dead.
Salvation was accomplished on the Cross but the work was continuing for 3 days and 3 nights who his body was in the tomb.
Jesus had to go somewhere where he could not take his fleshly body.
For Christ – He descended, Sheol was the place departed souls went. Jesus announced and liberated the waiting faithful. Hebrews 11:XX All these died without receiving the promise.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Hades greek Sheol Hebrew) , neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption (decay).
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts (Hades/Sheol) of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
The burial of Christ identified Him with humanity, brought closure and certainty of his death to family, followers and mockers alike, secured his human body while he descended to the lower parts of the earth and gave the resurrection validity.