"According to the Scriptures ..."


by Doug Ward

The Gospels report that when Jesus was arrested and crucified, his followers became fearful, confused, and despondent. Their hopes that Jesus would deliver them from Roman occupation and return the Promised Land to the people of Israel had been dashed (Lk 24:21). Peter, who had previously stated his conviction that Jesus was the Messiah (Jn 6:69; Mt 16:16), watched the proceedings from a distance and three times denied any association with the condemned man.


The situation changed quickly, though, when the risen Messiah began appearing to groups of his disciples. Jesus showed them that he was indeed alive with a transformed, glorified body. They could see and feel the marks of the crucifixion visible on that body, and they shared food with him (Lk 24:36-43).


During these visits Jesus explained the meaning of his crucifixion and resurrection, equipping his disciples to spread the good news of salvation far and wide (Lk 24:44-49). Puzzling remarks that he had made previously (e.g., Mk 9:9-13) now became clear to them. Empowered by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, they began to "turn the world upside down" with the gospel message (Ac 17:6).


Prophecies of the Resurrection

With their minds opened to a fuller understanding of God's purpose and plan, the first Christians came to recognize that the resurrection of Jesus was announced throughout the scriptures of Israel, "in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" (Lk 24:44). In some cases the resurrection was the subject of a direct prophecy; in others, the prediction was typological, with someone's experience giving a preview of Jesus' life and mission.


In the five books of Moses, Joseph is a prominent messianic type. Joseph was rejected by his brothers and subjected to false accusations. He spent time buried in a prison, then was raised to become a savior for Egypt and the region surrounding it.


Moses is another type of the Messiah. His reappearance to lead the Exodus after forty years in obscurity in Midian can be viewed as a kind of resurrection.


There is a direct prophecy of the resurrection in the sleeping lion of Judah who is to be raised up by God (Ge 49:9). The image of the sleeping lion is repeated in the oracles of Balaam (Nu 24:9), which contain several additional messianic references (see especially Nu 24:16-19).


Jonah is one type of the Messiah in the prophetic books. The three days he spent in the belly of the great fish (Jnh 1:17) prefigure Jesus' time in the tomb. Jesus' disciples remembered that he had pointed out this connection in advance (Mt 12:38-40), and after his resurrection they could grasp what he meant.


The resurrection is implied in the great prophecy of the suffering servant in Isa 52:13-53:12. This prophecy, which is known for its clear statements on the atoning death of the servant, begins and ends with references to the servant's exaltation. God's servant "shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted," we read in Isa 52:13. Isa 53:12 adds that the servant "shall divide the spoil with the strong" as a result of his death. Clearly, then, the servant's death is not the final word. Jesus taught his disciples that he was the subject of this prophecy (Lk 22:37), and they frequently referenced it in the New Testament (Mt 8:17; Jn 12:38; Ro 15:21; 1 Pe 2:22-25).


David, an ancestor of Jesus, is the leading type of the Messiah in the Writings. The words of his psalms of lament, especially Psalms 22 and 69, prefigure Jesus' time on the cross.


David looks ahead to the resurrection in Psalm 16, where he thanks God for the "beautiful inheritance" he has received (v 6), an inheritance featuring the promise that a king from his line would rule forever (2 Sa 7:13-16). He is confident that God will grant eternal life to both him and this coming king. "For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption," he declares in verse 10.


The Hebrew word for "holy one" in Ps 16:10, hasid, refers to "one to whom God is loyal, gracious, or merciful" or "one in whom God manifests his grace and favor."1 David himself was such a person. He is elsewhere called a hasid in Ps 89:19, part of a passage that considers David in his role as servant of God, anointed king, and ancestor of the coming Messiah. In Ps 16:10, then, hasid encompasses both David and the future messianic king.


Proclaiming the Resurrection

For the apostles Ps 16:10 was a key piece of evidence in their message that Jesus was the promised Messiah, a descendant of David whose resurrection had been prophesied a thousand years in advance. Because He was resurrected on the third day after his death, he indeed did not "see corruption." Summaries of sermons by both Peter and Paul recorded in the book of Acts highlight this verse (Ac 2:24-32; 13:35-37).


The apostolic proclamation that Jesus "was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Co 15:4) sparked great interest among their audiences (Ac 13:42-44) and led many to commit their lives to God and the risen Messiah (Ac 2:37-41; 8:26-39). The same Gospel message continues to change lives today.


1Walter C. Kaiser, The Uses of the Old Testament in the New, Moody Press, Chicago, 1985, p. 33.

Issue 35


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On 22 Apr 2021, 17:17.