Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”
So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites. Genesis 23:1-9, 17-20 ESV
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Matthew 27:57-66 ESV
When people died in ancient Egypt, even if they were very poor, their bodies were embalmed, or mummified. They Egyptians believed that there was a life after death, and that it was very much the same as life on earth. They believed that a people couldn’t enjoy that life without having their bodies preserved. People were also buried with dishes, musical instruments, dolls representing people, and other things so that they could enjoy their life after they had died.
When Sarah died, Abraham showed his faith in God’s promise to give his family the land. Up to this time, Abraham had never owned any land in the area where God had called him to live. But when Sarah died, he bought his first piece of land as a family burial plot. This showed that he believed God’s promise that his family would find its home in the land of Canaan.
When Jesus died, he also didn’t own a burial plot for himself, but a rich friend named Joseph of Arimathea gave Jesus his own tomb, and took care of Jesus’ body. He showed his love for Jesus in that way, but also that he didn’t expect Jesus to rise from the dead. The religious leaders thought that maybe Jesus’ disciples would steal Jesus body and tell a lie that he had come out of the grave. They set a guard of soldiers to watch and make sure that didn’t happen.
Nothing could stop Jesus from coming out of the tomb on Easter morning! His resurrection conquered death for his people once and for all. When we lay the body of a Christian person to rest, it’s the same kind of burial that Jesus had. The body will only rest in the grave for awhile. Someday, when Jesus returns, all the dead people will come out of their graves, and those who believe in Jesus will live in his new world with him forever!
Dear Jesus, thank you for conquering death. Please help us have faith that death isn’t forever for anyone who believes in you. Amen.