In 1962, missionaries named Don and Carol Richardson went to New Guinea to bring the Good News of Christ to a group of people known as the Sawi. The Sawi was a headhunting, cannibalistic tribe who used the skulls of their victims as pillows. He wrote a book about his experience called Peace Child. He began his work among the Sawi by reading through the Gospel of Matthew. But to his consternation when he got to the part of Judas betraying Christ, everyone cheered. He did not realize that their culture was one built around treachery.
The one who was the most devious was the one who had the most respect in their tribe. The missionary searched for every possible means to explain the greatness of God’s gift of truth and pure love to a people whose values were based on deceit. Then one day, he witnessed a solemn ceremony between two warring tribes. One of the chiefs walked over to the other and handed him a child. In fact, it was the chief’s own son. Their custom had been that peace could come between two tribes only if the chief of one of the tribes would give his son over to the people of the other tribe. He was called the “peace child.” The chief would place his own son in the hands of a people who hated him and had been his enemies. It was the only way to bring peace between them. Richardson saw in this act the perfect bridge to help these people understand what God had done.
God had given his “peace child” into the hands of a hostile world in order to bring the hostility between us to an end. The angels said at his birth: “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”
(From a sermon by William D. Brown, “CHRISTMAS” 7/31/2008)
That is humble, isn’t it? But that is the Gospel.
As we continue in Isaiah 53 we come to verse 9. We see a passage where our Savior was willing to be identified with criminals. More than that, our Savior was not a criminal. Our Savior was and is pure and spotless. He was and is sinless. In the story I just read, it is one thing to hand your child over to the enemy. It is another thing to do so when your child is sinless. Your child is perfect. Your child has done no wrong at all.
Turn with me to three passages, the first is a prophesy fulfilled in Jesus:
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.
Let’s talk about these.
Jesus was humiliated in death by being crucified as a common criminal. This was in the crucifixion and in the expected normal burial of someone crucified.
Ask yourself, how far will you go in humility for Jesus? (Phil. 2:3-4 and Jesus’ example in verses 6-11)
We’ll unpack that.
- Jesus was crucified with criminals and assigned a grave with the wicked.
- This is because as crucified He would not be entitled to a grave. He would be left on the cross to rot and then thrown in the valley of Hinnom. Listen to what MacArthur says:
Jesus was crucified between two criminals, Luke 23:33; Matthew 27:38. And here would be the normal disposition. They would die on the cross of asphyxiation, and they would leave Him there. Leave Him there dead and rotting, leave Him there for the birds to pluck out their faces. And they would leave them there like road kill for animals that could climb up the cross to chew their flesh. They would leave them there for the purpose of warning everybody who was watching of what happens to people who violate the Roman power and the Roman law. That’s what was planned for Him. Eventually they would have taken the rotted corpses down and thrown them in a dump.
The Jerusalem city dump was in the Valley of Hinnom; you can go there today. It’s not the dump anymore but the Valley of Hinnom on the southeast side of Jerusalem was the city dump, and it was a fire that never went out, a constant fire there. It is a very interesting place, historically. It was the place where apostate Jews and followers of Baal and other Canaanite gods burned their children to the god Molech. You find that back in 2 Chronicles 28:33. Jeremiah talks about it, Jeremiah 7. But this was the place where they offered babies to Molech.
It was there that King Ahaz sacrificed his sons, 2 Chronicles 28. It is the place that Isaiah identifies at the end of his prophecy as the place where the worm never dies. And Jesus said it’s a depiction of hell, in Mark, where the worm never dies…Mark 9. And he says that three times. Horrible place where they threw what was left of the corpses. The rabbis describe it as a perpetual fire to consume the filth and the cadavers that are thrown there. So He was executed with criminals. He would end up like criminals.
But God wasn’t going to let that happen. Psalm 16 says that He would not allow His Holy One to see corruption. God would never let that happen. So verse 9 says there’s an amazing turn. “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death.” How did that happen? He was with a rich man in His death because all along there was a man by the name of Joseph from a place called Arimathea.
This man Joseph had become a disciple of Jesus Christ quietly, and he was very rich. Matthew 27:57, “In the evening there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate, asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate ordered it to be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out in the rock and he rolled a large stone against the entrance to the tomb and went away.” He should have been road kill; He should have been in the dump and He ends up in a brand new tomb owned by a rich man. Just exactly what the Holy Spirit reveals to Isaiah was going to happen.
Why? Why? Why was that important? It tells us at the end of verse 9; this is most interesting. “Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” That’s just a way of saying He was holy on the inside and the outside. Because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. There was nothing in His mouth of a sinful thing, sinful nature. There was no behavior of a sinful nature. And because of His holiness, because as Hebrews says He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, because He was the sinless, spotless Lamb without blemish, the Father never allowed Him to end up in the dump.
So why that? It is a small testimony to His…listen…sinless perfection by His Father and the first small step of His exaltation, the first small step. Even before His resurrection the Father is saying, “I will not allow any further humiliation.” There can be no more humiliation. It’s as low as He can go, to give Himself to death, even the death of the cross, and that’s where the humiliation ends. And this is the first small step up. God honors Jesus in His burial because there was no sin inside, no sin outside. And in a few hours on the third day, He comes out of the grave, and, eventually, in His ascension all the way up. A sweet testimony of the fact that the humiliation was over.
- So, we can see what was normal about crucifixion and burial. That was what would have been expected of Jesus’ death.
- Imagine being a disciple and expecting that of Jesus, your discipler’s burial.
- But let’s go to the next part of the passage.
- But, Jesus did no wrong so He was given a rich man’s grave.
- Just know, we already talked about the grave, so I do not want to park there. I want to say that that is the providence of God.
- God knew what His Son would go through and He knew that His Son, Jesus our Lord was innocent. That is my next focus.
- Could Jesus have been our sacrifice if He was not innocent? No, He could not. Turn to Exodus 12:5 and see what was expected of the Passover Lamb. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect,and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.
- Two things which I did not write:
- The worth of salvation depends on the worth of the Saviour. If He were sinful like every other man, then His death could pay for no more than His own sins. Just as the Passover lamb had to be proved to be without blemish before it was slain (Ex 12:5–6), so the life of our Lord proved Him to be the perfect and sinless sacrifice for our sins.
- In the Old Testament they always had these bulls and goats as sacrifices. They had to be pure without default but they were not good enough. So, God sent His Son.
- One writes: “it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4), a better sacrifice is required (Heb. 9:23). Only the blood of Christ, that is, his death, would be able really to take away sins (Heb. 9:25–26). There was no other way for God to save us than for Christ to die in our place.
- How far will you go in humility for Jesus? (Phil. 2:3-4 and Jesus’ example in 6-11) Let’s unpack this, but first let’s read the text.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
- Am I willing to serve in lower class areas?
- Think of all those Saints who have been humbled for Christ. Think of all those Saints who worked in the lowest of the areas, even though they are capable to be in mansions. I must be willing to live that Phil. 2:3-4 attitude.
- I must be willing to look out for other’s needs beyond my own even if that means humility on my part.
- I must be willing to serve in jails.
- I must be willing to serve in food pantries and homeless shelters even if that means dropping my social status and being identified with those I serve.
- I must be willing to get dirty for Jesus.
- William Borden: “No reserves, no retreats, no regrets.”
His body is no longer buried. Let’s remember as we focus on the cross, Jesus is Risen!
I think this video applies:
William Borden: “No reserves, no retreats, no regrets.”
Do you know Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972).
 Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 569–570.