I have stood by more than a few gravesides after a casket was lowered into the ground. I have visited the graves of long-dead relatives and longer-dead historic figures. There is an empty finality to a graveside, a realization of termination. The dates on the headstone are the bookends of a lifespan.
The grave of Jesus had the same feel. It was just as lifeless, in the truest sense of the word, and cold. The void felt by His loved ones would have been just as pronounced, if not more so. After all, they had thought He was the Messiah, the promised one who would set God’s people free. But then He was crucified and died. In an act of courage and kindness, Joseph of Arimathea sought permission to bury Jesus before the Sabbath—even more courageous because he was part of the very ruling body that just condemned Jesus to death. Mark 15:46 says, “Joseph took him down and wrapped him in the linen. Then he laid him in a tomb cut out of the rock and rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.”
So, it was over. The Son of God was laid to rest, a gentle act after a brutal death. It echoes of Lamentations 3:1–9, where the prophet writes of being encircled in bitterness, wasting away, walking in darkness, walled in by God. For it was God who brought this about.
Thankfully, Lamentations 3 does not end there. In verses 22–23, we read, “Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning.” God brought about the death of Christ to make this true. We are able to truly say “we do not perish” because Jesus perished in our place. We are able to look to new mercies because He took on judgment and pain reserved for us.
When we think of “new mercies,” we must not only think of the small pleasantness each day brings but also the redefining reality Colossians 1 tells us of. It describes Jesus as “the firstborn over all creation” (v.15). When we read this in the context of Jesus’s death and burial, it points to the promise of resurrection; He is the first of the resurrected into glory. A few verses later, Paul explains further, saying, “But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him” (v.22).
The death and burial of Jesus were essential to reconcile us to God. They were the only way. They gave every appearance of defeat, of loss. But this loss was the sacrifice that made way for the greatest victory.