We've noted before that the Gospel as described in 1 Corinthians 15:1–8 consists of four statements:
- Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3)
- He was buried (1 Corinthians 15:4)
- He rose the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4)
- He was seen by many witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5–8)
We noted before that the burial of Christ is frequently overlooked in so-called Gospel preaching, but 1 Corinthians 15 makes it a fundamental part of the Gospel. We're not preaching the Gospel if we don't talk about the burial of Christ.
I mentioned C. A. Coates' excellent article "The Son of Man lifted up and buried." Coates points out that burial in Scripture carries the idea of hiding from sight.
The first time we read about burial in Scripture is Genesis 23, where Sarah has died, and Abraham buys the field of Ephron the Hittite to bury her there. Notice Abraham tells the sons of Heth, "give me a possession of a sepulchre with you, that I may bury my dead from before me" (Genesis 23:4, repeated in v. 8). Here's the idea of burial in Scripture: Abraham wants to "bury my dead out of my sight" (KJV, ESV, and NASB).
At the Crucifixion, the Pharisees were afraid to let the bodies of Christ and the two malefactors remain on the crosses for the Passover. They were applying Deuteronomy 21:22–23. If a man was put to death by hanging, his body wasn't to remain hanging overnight: it had to be buried the same day. Why? Because a hanged man is cursed by God. When we consider this in the light of Genesis 23, we realize that the man who is cursed of God needs to be removed from God's sight.
Notice Galatians 3:13 quotes Deuteronomy 21:23, applying it to Christ hanging on the Cross. We understand the how of Christ's death is important: Christ Himself pointed out He was to be "lifted up" (John 3:14). It's very important that Christ was "lifted up" to die: He was made a curse of God for us.
When we consider Christ buried, we remember that He bore our sins "in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). The same body that bore our sins was buried, taking our sins out of God's sight. They have been buried "from before [His] eyes" – God doesn't see them anymore.
So we recognize the finality of our forgiveness rests on the burial of Christ.
But of course there's more. Romans 6:4 tells us that we have been "buried with Him by baptism". Colossians 2:12 repeats the statement almost word for word. We have died with Christ, we have been buried with Christ.
We have been buried out of God's sight.
We don't bury a man who's not dead. Burial means we've given up on someone. Burial means we expect no more out of someone.