THE GOSPEL: JESUS' BURIAL
Let’s read verse 4 to continue learning what Paul has to say about this good news.
Jesus Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures, and next, he was buried. This might seem like a strange thing for Paul to include here. I mean, Jesus’ death is cosmically significant because it saves his people from the penalty of their sins, and Jesus’ resurrection is going to undergird the entirety of Paul’s argument in the chapter. But what exactly does Jesus’ burial accomplish here?
But context will show us that Paul has good reason for mentioning it. See, the Corinthian church didn’t seem to have a problem agreeing with Paul about Jesus’ death. And they probably didn’t really have a problem agreeing with Paul about a certain kind of resurrection of Jesus. Where they took issue, most likely, was in the fact that Jesus’ resurrection body, in particular, had any continuity with the body he died in. You can see this if you skip ahead to verse 35, where Paul anticipates what he knows the Corinthians’ objection to his resurrection argument will be. He writes: “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’” The Corinthians’ objection to the idea that the dead are raised seems to center on their understanding of the body. Whatever their understanding of resurrection, it seems to have included a firm break between the body that comes before death and the disembodied state that they supposed comes after.
So it’s important for Paul to link the death and resurrection of Jesus by following the body. Jesus didn’t just die on Friday, then appear mystically or metaphorically on Sunday. No, he lay in the tomb on Saturday. He was buried. The Jesus of Good Friday is the same as the Jesus of Easter Sunday.