“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death...” Romans 6:4
Though many Christians realize and acknowledge they have been crucified with Christ, they have not realized the important element of also having been buried with Christ.
Under Roman rule, Jesus died as a criminal, and His body would have been the possession of Roman authorities, denying family any claim or access. For those crucified, it was normal practice to incinerate their bodies in the Valley of Gehenna, just outside the city walls of Jerusalem. But in Jesus’ case, Matthew 27:57-58 tells us, “As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.” With the help of Nicodemus, Jesus was buried in Joseph’s tomb. This was not an incidental detail. In the heart and mind of God, Christ’s burial was predetermined with a purpose; so much so, that as Paul says, not only have we been crucified with Christ, but we are buried with Him through baptism into death.
In the interim period of a person having died and been buried, they are often talked about in the present tense, but once they are buried, it is in the past tense. There is a finality about being buried that brings closure, and so it is with our sin. Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers sin no more.” When we die in Christ, our sin is buried with Him, and God remembers it no more. Paul tells us in Romans 8:1, “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When we come to the cross of Jesus, God holds nothing against us. For a Christian to still feel condemned is not the voice of the Holy Spirit, but of Satan. Revelations 12:10 calls him “the accuser of our brothers and sisters” and he stands before God accusing us day and night. Our sin having been buried with Christ and forgiven is an accomplished fact, but many feel undeserving, and have yet to realize their sin is actually gone. They continue to interact with the guilt of past sin, but to keep resurrecting it will impede spiritual growth.
We know enough about ourselves that give plenty of reason for making us undeserving of forgiveness and of knowing God, but every one of those reasons was nailed to the cross with Jesus. They were taken to His grave, and that is where we need to leave them. Being buried with Jesus closes the book on our sin, and liberates us to live in the power of His resurrected life.