Last week we looked at the first part of 1 Corinthians and the first evidence that the Apostle Paul presents as evidence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, we are going to look at a second evidence that the Apostle Paul provided. Next week we will look at a third. Paul wrote,
I shared this quote from A. W. Tozer on Thursday night. He wrote,
God was able to put his plan in the minds of men hundreds of years ago because the timeless, eternal God see’s the entire scope of history from beginning to end in what Tozer calls, the ‘everlasting now.’
So, it shouldn’t surprise us to see historic records in the past pointing forward to events in the future. And it also should not surprise us when we see the fulfillment of the scriptures in the present. If God is who He says He is, then God should be seen everywhere. And He is seen all throughout the scriptures.
The ancients believed that Jesus fulfilled all of the prophesies about the Old Testament Messiah. And thus, they wrote what today we call the New Testament. And that New Testament serves as evidence to us that the prophesies were in fact fulfilled and Jesus is in fact the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one of God who takes away the sins of the world.
So, for our purposes today, we want to explore Paul’s statement that
1) Jesus Christ was buried,
2) he came back from the dead, and
3) I want to explore the implication of Christ’s ressurection, which is that He rose and became Lord over all.
And we want to do that from the Old Testament texts.
So, let’s begin with the first one. The scriptures teach that…
The Messiah would be Buried
This is an important point, today and for the early church. The concern is that people might try to say that Jesus didn’t really die, that he was still alive when they took him off the cross and put him in the tomb. So, then maybe the disciples snuck his body away and nursed him back to health and that’s how he appeared to have been resurrected. These are the sorts of arguments that people fabricate.
But, there’s absolutely no historic precedent for that argument, inside or outside of the Bible. What actually occurs in the scriptures is, Jesus has already been hanging on the cross all day, and then this:
There’s a significant emphasis on the actual death of Jesus. When blood and water pour out it is because you have already been dead some time and the red blood cells have coagulated so that the blood separates.
Jesus couldn’t have been more dead. And you can see John sees several prophesies fulfilled, that his bones would not be broken and so forth. But, let’s look at this significant one, that Christ really died. The death of the Messiah shows up in the two most important Messianic passages in the Old Testament.
In Psalm 22, the Psalmist writes in the voice of the Messiah,
Psalm 22:15 (CSB) — My strength is dried up like baked clay; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You put me into the dust of death.
I love the imagery here. Just as Adam was created from the dust of the earth and life was breathed into his lifeless body, the Psalmist imagines the Messiah returning to the dust of the earth as a euphemism, not to distract from, but to accentuate the reality of the Messiah’s death. He was buried in the earth. Returning to the dust.
The second passage is from Isaiah 53 and I prefer the King James tradition for the rendering of this passage. It says,
The wording is a little weird, but it’s preferable because of the implications it gives. First, it says that he made his grave with the wicked. The fulfillment of this prophesy came when Jesus hung beside two criminals on the cross. But, because he had done no violence and had never spoken deceitful words, he was with the rich in his death. That is to say, he was buried with the rich.
His body wasn’t burned or buried in a shallow grave. Rather, his body was to be anointed and laid in a tomb—actually, for Jesus it would occur the opposite way because of the Sabbath, but he rose before the anointing could occur.
It’s interesting, because, you can see some of the very specific details in the Old Testament come to fruition in the New Testament, and for Paul this was trustworthy evidence that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah of Israel. And it should be for us as well.
The second part of this is that…
The Messiah would Rise
…and this follows from the previous point, because if not for a very real death, then the ressurection is a rouse.
The Jews believed the Messiah would die a very real death and that he would rise from the dead. The interesting thing is, they never really used the words rise or resurrect. They didn’t say that the Messiah would rise. And that’s because the scriptures—Old and New Testaments—don’t focus so much on the event of the ressurection as they do on the state of the resurrection, although the event is mentioned several times in the New Testament.
Notice what Paul said to Timothy,
There were people who were teaching that ‘the resurrection’ had already occurred and by that, they did not mean that Jesus’s resurrection had occurred. They meant that the world had entered into a period of time, a new era, which was called the resurrection.
This was a false teaching, because, the resurrection is taught—Old and New Testament—as a perfected state. And thus, we will not be in the resurrection until all things are made new, which we read about in Revelation 21. But, notice the way Paul talks about the resurrection. It’s not an event. It’s an era in time. The resurrection is heaven or the afterlife if you prefer to think of it that way.
So, as we look to the Old Testament scriptures to find the resurrection, what we are really looking for is the afterlife.
So, let’s look at these passages. King David wrote,
Decay is a death word. The Psalmist does not believe that he will go to Sheol, which carries the idea of an eternal place of condemnation, but instead will forever rest securely with the Lord. Because of His faithfulness to the Lord, Yahweh, the Psalmist believes he will never see decay, but rather experience everlasting life.
The Psalmist of Psalm 49 wrote,
Here we see the principle of redemption, salvation from the eternal grave. The Psalmist believes that God will take him away from Sheol.
Asaph seemed to believe that to be taken away from Sheol meant entering into the Glory of Yahweh, God. Afterlife meant being in the eternal presence of God.
Notice this prohibition in the law given by Moses:
Notice Moses didn’t say, ‘Don’t do silly meaningless things like trying to contact the dead.’
No, Moses believed the dead were in a very real place, an afterlife, and it is very possible to contact them. It is because we are actually able to contact the dead that Moses provides this prohibition.
And it’s not just the dead in Sheol that can be contacted. Notice this bizarre episode.
Saul, the first King of Israel goes to a necromancer to try to summon Samuel, the last judge of Israel. She summons him and says this:
Samuⲉl was somewhere if the necromancer was able to summon him.
There is clearly an afterlife in the Old Testament. That’s why the metaphor of sleep exists. Instead of saying someone died, often they said that they slept or rested because they believed that they would rise again in a new life, eternally with God. Death is permanent so they used the idea of sleep or rest because death is not permanent. There is a life to come.
For example, when King David died, it was written,
So, the question is, where does the Old Testament say that the Messiah will experience the resurrection?
I have two answers. The first is, Why wouldn’t he if everyone else does?
That’s true enough, but if the Messiah took the transgressions of the world upon himself when he died, then he would be abandoned to Sheol and not get to enter into the presence of the Father. When we refer to Jesus’s resurrection in the New Testament, we see Him escaping hell, escaping Sheol, so Where does that happen?
There are a few shadows in the Old Testament, but they are merely that, shadows. The resurrection was left a mystery so that the Devil and the powers of darkness would not know what God was doing. They thought they won the war when Jesus died on the cross, but then Jesus rose from the dead, turning the tables on them.
But there are shadows. One prominent shadow is in the final verses of Isaiah 53, a passage we have looked at last week and this week already.
It’s pretty clear. Even though the Messiah dies in anguish, taking the sins of the world upon himself so that the people of the earth might be accounted righteous before God, the Messiah will have prolonged days—long life—he will prosper according to the will of the Lord, and he will be satisfied.
See, the Old Testament doesn’t say that the Messiah would rise from the dead in certain terms. But, again, that’s because the resurrection isn’t so much an event as it is a state of being. And it’s pretty clear that the Messiah’s state of eternal being is in the presence of God the Father.
And that makes sense because the Old Testament is very clear that…
The Messiah would be Lord
That just rings so true with the way that Jesus is talked about in the New Testament. For instance, Paul says,
Notice the distinctly Jewish language Paul uses to refer back to the Old Testament. He calls Jesus the Christ, which is the Greek word for Messiah or anointed one. The Christ took on the form of a human man and was born into this world where he lived a perfect life of obedience to God the Father, so much so that he went to death, he died a horrible death on a cross. He suffered just like the Messiah of Isaiah 53.
And because of the Messiah’s obedience, Jesus was exalted, raised to life and raised up to heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father where he was seated upon the throne. That means that Jesus was given the right to rule and order all created things in the physical universe and in the heavenly realms. Jesus was given the supreme name, the name above all other names. There is no higher authority than that which was given to Jesus. Every single being on earth and in the heavens will bow before him and they will confess that Jesus, the Messiah, is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is the King who rules forever, and we see that clearly in a number of places in the Old Testament scriptures.
The Lord told David,
In the first part of this promise that God made to David, God promises that he will have a son that will build the temple of God, which was built by Samuel in the city of Jerusalem.
But, in the latter part of the verse, God promises that David’s line will rule for eternity, forever. And this promise led the Jews to believe that the Messiah would come from the line of David. And Jesus did come through the line of David.
Matthew 1:1 reads,
Jesus is called here the son of David. The genealogy listed in further in verses 2-17 goes on to demonstrate that Jesus came from the line of David. And, thus, Jesus sits on the throne in heaven where he will rule forever.
The prophet Jeremiah goes on to say,
This is the same basic point, that David will have a son sitting on the throne of Israel for all time. Here Israel is used nationally to show the extent of David’s rule, but the Son of David, who is Jesus sits on the throne of spiritual Israel, which is the church—all of those who are citizens in the eternal Kingdom of God, a far greater Kingdom.
And probably the most profound place that we see the Lordship of the Messiah is through the Prophet Daniel. He wrote,
Many people read Daniel as if he is speaking of an event that is still in the future from our perspective.
That’s because it sounds a lot like some of the events in the book of Revelation, which we mistakenly assume is a book of future events. But, when you read the book of Revelation, you ought to be thinking, ‘Where have I read this before?’ I wouldn’t even read Revelation until you know the rest of your Bible well, because everything in Revelation points back to ideas from the Old Testament, most of which has already come to pass in the New Testament times.
So, this prophecy of Daniel was in the future for Daniel speaking from Old Testament times, but when we compare Daniel to Paul’s words that we already read in Philippians, you can’t miss the similarity. It’s pretty clear that Paul was thinking back on Daniel’s picture of the Messiah when he wrote Philippians 2. That makes this a past event for us. Notice…
It’s unmistakable that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament. It’s unmistakable that the early disciples saw Jesus as the fulfillment of every Old Testament prophesy regarding the Messiah.
For Paul, this is evidence.
How could Jesus come and accomplish every single prophecy regarding the Messiah and not be the Messiah?
They believed this so firmly that the disciples suffered and were put to death by horrific means because they refused to deny that Jesus is the Messiah. That we have so firm a history of the suffering of the early disciples should assure us of their conviction so that we too would believe that Jesus is the Messiah promised by God in the Old Testament. It serves as evidence for us today as much as for them.
And if you believe that, if you believe that Jesus is really the Messiah of the Old Testament, Then what are you going to do about it?
Because the scriptures say that the Messiah came and the Messiah dies for the sins of the world, and then he was buried in a grave and rose to new life, ascending to the heavens to be seated at the right hand of the Father where he became Lord over all the universe.
If that’s who Jesus is, then have you bowed your knee to him? Have you given your life for the service of the Lord Jesus Christ who sits on the seat of glory as ruler and judge?
If Jesus rose from the dead and you claim that He is Lord, then your life should reflect the Lordship of Jesus. It should be reflected in your obedience to God on a moral level. It should be reflected in your giving. It should be reflected in the way that you talk to people and in every area of life.
It has been asked many times, If Christianity became illegal in the US and you had to go before a judge under accusations of being a Christian, would they find enough evidence to convict you? Upon evaluating the way that you live, would the judge find you to be seeking the pleasures of this world or the pleasures of a righteous and holy God in heaven? Would they find you kneeling before the throne of grace or would they find you innocent of being a Christian?
Well, that’s the question. And it matters, because, if you are kneeling before the throne of grace, at the feet of Jesus, then when you die and you go to your new life, the afterlife, you get to be with Jesus in His Kingdom.
But, if your life suggests that you have rejected Jesus, then you simply go to Sheol, to the realm of the dead, the eternally dead, separated from Jesus and all of His goodness forever.
The lives we live now speak profoundly about our true beliefs and they speak profoundly about our eternity.