"According to the Scriptures"

The fact that Jesus died, was buried, and resurrected is the very foundation of salvation from sin. We can believe in these events even though we were not there to see them happen because of creditable, eyewitness testimony of those who did -- men who gave their lives telling the story because they knew it to be the truth. Our assurance is made even stronger when we realize all of the astounding details concerning these events took place according to the divine predictions of God in the Scriptures. As the apostle declared, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, 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" (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

The divine predictions given centuries before concerning what would take place were frequently referred to by the apostles when they preached the gospel. These references have been divinely recorded for our assurance and conviction. Let us consider some of the astonishing prophecies of the Messiah's death, burial, and resurrection.

Matthew tells us how Jesus was stripped, beaten, and mistreated (Mt. 27:27-ff). God foretold this over 700 years prior through the prophet Isaiah. "I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting" (Isa. 50:6). The scourging of Jesus, recorded by John (Jn. 19:1), was foretold in the Psalms. "The plowers plowed upon my back: they lengthened their furrow" (Ps. 129:3).

Crucifixion, the cruel type of death Jesus faced, involved the nailing of the hands and feet to a wooden cross. John tells of this crucifixion and how Jesus was mocked and stripped, lots cast for His garments, sour wine given to Him in His thirst, etc. (Jn. 19). Centuries before Jesus' crucifixion, David by inspiration uttered these Messianic words, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?...All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, 'Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him'...I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws...They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots" (Ps. 22:1-16; cf. Ps. 69:20-21; Zach. 12:10).

The fact that Jesus was crucified as a criminal along with thieves was no accident. The prophet Isaiah foretold how the Messiah would be "numbered with the transgressors" (Isa. 53:12). While on the cross the legs of the criminals were broken to hasten their death. The legs of Jesus, however, were not broken as predicted in the Psalms. "He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken" (Ps. 34:20; cf. Jn. 19:33).

Jesus was crucified as a criminal, yet, as God had predicted through the prophet He was buried in a rich man's tomb. "His grave was assigned to be with wicked men, yet with a rich man in His
death..." (Isa. 53:9; cf. Jn. 19:38-42).

The Messiah was also resurrected according to what had been predicted centuries before. The apostle Peter made several references to this fact in his sermon on Pentecost. "Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of His descendants upon his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay" (Ac. 2:29; cf. Ps. 16:8-10). Peter continued to also explain how David long ago in the Psalms spoke of how the Christ was to ascend to the right hand of God, quoting from Psalm 110:1, "The Lord said to My Lord, sit at My right hand until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet" (Ac. 2:34-35).

The fact that we not only have credible, eyewitness testimony concerning Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, but also have these and many more amazing detailed prophecies concerning these events leaves no excuse for disbelief (Mk. 16:16).

by Paul Smithson -- Via The Bulletin of the Church of Christ at New Georgia, August 14, 2005

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