Andrew & Anne Fountain - Jesus' Burial, with some Insights from Archeology

  • We believe the Bible because it is God’s word, but nevertheless it is encouraging to our faith so see the strength of the evidence.
  • Plus it helps us to visualize and conceptualize what actually happened at a real place and date.


Sermon Outline - Jesus’ Burial, with some Insights from Archeology

Images used for teaching purposes —Pictorial Library of Bible Lands (Used by permission)

Please note that for copyright reasons, none of the images appear in the notes below.

1. Intro and read 2 passages

John 19:31–40

  1. Then, because it was the day of preparation,
    so that the bodies should not stay on the crosses on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was an especially important one), the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to have the victims’ legs broken and the bodies taken down.
  2. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who had been crucified with Jesus, first the one and then the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out immediately. 35And the person who saw it has testified (and his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth), so that you also may believe.
  3. For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of his will be broken.” 37And again another scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
  4. After this, Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus (but secretly, because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission, so he went and took the body away. 39Nicodemus, the man who had previously come to Jesus at night, accompanied Joseph, carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about seventy-five pounds. 40Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the aromatic spices, in strips of linen cloth according to Jewish burial customs. 41Now at the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb where no one had yet been buried.
  5. And so, because it was the Jewish day of preparation and the tomb was nearby, they placed Jesus’ body there.

Luke 23

  1. Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man,
  2. who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
  3. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
  4. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in the rock, where no one had ever yet been laid.
  5. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.
  6. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid.

NET Bible

2. Anne: Tombs and burial – archeology

Rock-cut tombs

  • Cut into solid rock
  • Some were quite extensive
  • Two types:
    1. End-ways (short tunnel)
    2. Side-ways (bench)

John 20

  1. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.
  2. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.

Grave cloths

The discovery of textiles in the Jerusalem area is rare due to high levels of humidity that do not usually allow for the preservation of organic material. Insects probably caused the few holes (less than 0.5 cm×0.5 cm). The textiles are carbonized and were also damaged by the relative humidity of Jerusalem and by body fluids.

Because they were arranged in layers (when the body was wrapped) and stuck together, it is impossible to separate them without causing damage. The loculus extended for 1.6 m. Some parts of the body were covered with a number of textile layers. The head of the deceased was also covered with remains of a 16×16-cm2 textile that was found adhered to the hair in one layer and apparently surrounded it.

3. The Jerusalem Factor

The Jerusalem factor

  • Hardly anyone denies that Jerusalem was the birthplace of the earliest Christian preaching
  • They also agree that it started very soon after the death of Jesus
  • This would be the least-likely place to teach the resurrection, if Jesus’ grave, a short distance away, was still occupied
  • A brief walk could solve the matter for any questioning person
  • 1000’s of eye witnesses whose testimony you could compare

4. Anne: Where did this happen?

Location of the Tomb

  • Must be outside of the city
  • Near the crucifixion site
  • Rock-cut
  • Bench-type
  • New (so no other bodies in there)
  • Closed by a stone


  1. “Gordon’s Calvary” (1882)
  2. Traditional site: Under the Church of the Holy Sepulchre



Image source: Anne Fountain

Map zoomed

Map zoomed

Image source: Anne Fountain

5. The earliest Gospel message

Acts 18

  1. Paul stayed on in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching God’s message to the people.
  2. While Gallio was governor of Achaia, some of the Jewish leaders got together and grabbed Paul. They brought him into court
  • Roman historical records tell us that Gallio was governor for only a year, in 51–52A.D.

1 Corinthians 15:1–9

  1. Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand,
  2. and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
  3. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
    That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
  4. and that he was buried,
    and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
  5. and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
  6. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time,
    most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
  7. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

NET Bible


  • Even the skeptic Bart Erdman says you can trace this to one year after the cross:
  • Jesus died/raised between 30–33A.D. (from dates of Pilate & Tiberias)
  • Paul met up with Peter around 35A.D. to make sure they had the same gospel
  • Paul was preaching this in 51–52A.D.

E. P. Saunders

(One of the world’s leading historians, an unbeliever)

  • Right out of the gate all of the basic teachings about Jesus were in place
  • The very earliest preaching was the cross, the resurrection, and the divinity of Jesus
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3–4
    ”That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
    and that he was buried,
    and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”

What difference does it make?

  • “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
    and that he was buried,
    and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”
  • Rock of Ages
    “Be for sin the double cure
    Cleanse me from its guilt and power
  • Guilt of sin ==> his death
  • Power of death ==> his resurrection
  • Most people who don’t follow Jesus have a reason: and it’s not the facts!
  • What about you? What is your plan for death?

Updated on 2020-07-05 by Andrew & Anne Fountain