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Burial of Jesus

Cleansing the Unclean: God’s Infinite Presence Through the Cross

St. Paul teaches us that “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews…” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Crucifixion is a stumbling block as the Law proclaims, “anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (Deuteronomy 21:23).

The awaited Messiah was expected to remove the curse of the Roman occupation rather than become a curse himself. Jesus of Nazareth certainly didn’t meet this common Jewish expectation. He was a meek Messiah who conquered hard hearts rather than Roman occupiers. But I want to focus on the entombment as a contributor to our salvation being yet another stumbling block.

Torah’s Background: Barriers and Categories  

After the Fall, the world turned toward a series of divisions. The once united world has become compartmentalized. The Fall began with Eve averting her eyes from God to the fruit of materialism and self-advancement. Adam and Eve then move their eyes egotistically toward themselves and see that they are naked. I doubt that in the presence of God, they were concerned with themselves whether they were naked or not.

The human race was no longer able to see God as it lost the purity and simplicity it once possessed. Since the Fall, everything existed in division or duality: good and evil, secular and spiritual, etc.

The Law of Moses was God’s way of accommodating this limited and compartmentalized vision dividing foods and places to clean and unclean categories—and even people to Jewish and Gentile categories. The Jewish people believed that the land belonged to God and that heaven and earth are full of God’s glory. However, their daily lives—in following with the Torah’s laws—reflected a barrier between clean and unclean, Jewish and Gentile.

In the Law of Moses, God prohibits the priests of Israel from making for God “an altar… of hewn stones” (Exodus 20:25). The hewn and carved stones resembled the unclean pagan altars.  

Jesus Cleansing the Unclean

When Jesus was executed on the Cross,

“Joseph [of Arimathea] bought a linen cloth and, taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of rock” (Mark 15:46).

Jesus comes from the wooden Cross perceived as cursed and is placed as the slaughtered Passover Lamb in a tomb hewn in stone as if slaughtered on a pagan altar that no Jewish priest would venture to build.

From a legalistic perspective, Jesus descends from one level of uncleanness to an even lower one. From a Christian perspective, Jesus is assuming all our uncleanness—that is our sins which we offered on the altars of Satan—in order to heal us.            

Christ is Risen and raised us with Him. He did not raise us by distant means. Rather, Christ raised us by descending to our uncleanness that He may bring us upward toward His unparalleled purity. Christ raises us daily without being ever ashamed of us. Let us reciprocate His love and never be ashamed of proclaiming that Christ is Risen!   

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