Solid Snippet Article #014
Who is This King of Glory Part 3: The King Has Won
OT Prophecies of Christís Death and Resurrection
The darkness choked Him as He set His feet firm in the house of the High Priest. Here finally was the moment, the hour for which He was born. Shrouded in religious rightness and precision, the foul priest spat as he pointed his finger, ďBlasphemer! You call Yourself the Son of God? How dare you commit such idolatry!Ē The crowd of likeminded automatons condemned him as the din of the group rose beyond whispers into condemnation. The time had come. For this purpose, all of human history had run its course. But now in the wee hours of that fateful morning, Jesus stood down His accusers and stood His ground.
As the whip slashed across His body, Jesus lost count of them. Each stroke cut a new stripe and fresh blood gushed and crawled out of his body. Thoughts and vision blurred together, pain and trauma united in friendship and wracked His whole person. His mind began to wander. He felt the sand underneath Him and flashed back to His first disciples leaving their nets to follow Him. This was for them. He thought of all of the people in the crowd watching in silence and between shouts for His crucifixion. This was for them. He thought of those striking Him with a whip that splits and grabs His flesh, exposing the innards of His body to the elements. This was for them. History stood still as it culminated in the death of our Lord.
Several Messianic prophecies, including one very interesting section, speak to this very sight of Jesusí death. I have created an image of Jesus in the midst of His trial and beating on Thursday morning early. However, the divine element of the prophets is that my story is a recounting of an event that has already occurred. The detail in my depiction comes from other accounts of this historical event. But the prophets spoke in details of this event hundreds of years before Jesus was even born. And they hit the nail on the head. Let us discuss some of these prophecies concerning the death and resurrection of our Lord, King, and Messiah.
Within the book of Isaiah, we find four Servant Songs devoted to giving images of the coming Messiah. These four songs are recorded in Isaiah 42:1Ė4, 49:1Ė6, 50:4Ė11 and 52:13Ė53:12. This article will focus on them first, and then on a few other messianic passages which, even if not recorded in the prophetic books, shine prophetic light on Jesusí death, burial, and resurrection. First, let us note the first three Servant Songs of Isaiah.
The first of the Servant Songs (42:1-4) promises that the Messiah will bring justice upon the earth through peace. He will bring justice by the power of Godís Spirit and will bring it to all of the nations. This speaks of the grace in which He will bring justice, not by brute force, but through a strength that accurately and precisely administers justice. The second song (49:1-6) shows the humility of the servant in His humble birth and genealogy. He is no one special and sees it as a great honor to return Israel and the rest of the nations back to God. He knows His divine purpose and is specially chosen and trained for His role in Godís divine plan of redemption. The third song (50:4-11) becomes even more specific, speaking to the unswerving obedience of the servant of God. It brings to mind the imagery of that dark night when soldiers with torches approached Jesus, Judas the betrayer with them, to seize Him unlawfully. This song depicts the servantís acceptance of the pain and disgrace that were not deserved yet piled upon His innocent form. He faces the full brunt of punishment for sins and crimes everyone knows He has not committed.
Although these first three Servant Songs are not as clear and well defined, now we turn to one of the most accurate portrayals of Isaiah, a picture of Christ on the cross and of His trial. The uncanny accuracy and imagery form a testimony to Godís divine hand in the events. God in His sovereignty provided a glimpse, a foretaste, of the moment the world received reconciliation through the perfect sacrifice of His Son. The last of the Servant Songs displays the longest portion and the most detailed account of all, found in the infamous chapter of Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
This text is so rich in its depiction of the suffering of Christ, the servant of God who would restore the relationship between the Father and His children, those who believe in Him through Christís sacrificial death. Let us momentarily comb through this passage together. First, in verse 13, we see that Jesus will be lifted up. This is a reference to the way He will die, the method of the cross. Those who died this criminalís death would be placed high up in the sky so that the Romans could make an example of him as a thief. It also has redemptive qualities as Jesus pointed out in John chapter 3 with His explanation of the lifting up of the metal serpent that saved Israel from the poisonous serpents during their disobedience in the desert (John 3:14-15, cf. Num 21:4-9).
Verse 14 continues with a description, a depiction of Jesus in the midst of His brutal and bloody beating. By the time He was hanging on the cross, He had been so disfigured and beaten by the soldiers that He was beyond recognition. He indeed merely portrayed the form of a human being, but rather must have looked even monstrous in form, the disgust of the people evident in their snide remarks and hatred. He was taking on the sin of the world, and it would not surprise me if He looked like a hideous monster by the time He was hanging on that tree. Verse 15 goes beyond that of the third song in proclaiming the victory of God over His enemies of sin, death, and eternal separation from Him in Hell. Jesus, the sprinkled one (Messiah means anointed or splattered, sprinkled one), would sprinkle the nations and remove their sin and guilt so that they could have right relationship with God on the basis of His Person. The mystery with which all of human history, that of how God would restore His relationship with all of His creation, was now displayed and revealed for all to see.
As we enter chapter 53, the chorus of Israel speaks out in historical account of their image of Jesus as they watched Him on the cross. At the time, they were hurling insults at Him, but in this picture, they have just come upon the realization of His Messiahship. So they respond with surprise and explain why they had missed Him. He was not special and did not stick out to them in any way, much unlike their first king who stood head and shoulders above the rest. He was not the savior they were looking for. Beyond this, He did not live a luxurious lifestyle, but was instead associated with those who only know heartache and grief. There was no esteem to be given to Him. Jesus was nothing special. He didnít parade Himself around as the Messiah. He was humble and was not seen for who He really is.
Verses 4-6 show how Jesus sacrificially took on the sin of the world. He bore all of the sins and sicknesses of humanity upon the cross. He died in our stead, filling the place that was meant for us, taking the judgment of God that was meant for each of us. Jesus suffered the judgment of humanity and God, stood alone rejected by earth and by heaven as He bore the weight of the sin of the world. He took on not only our sins but our diseases. With every stripe came the authority of Jesus to heal completely. Our healing and salvation and deliverance are all tied up in the same act of sacrifice. Jesus made all of these things possible for us.
Verses 7-9 maintain the humility of this suffering Servant. Jesus refused to complain, to retaliate as He was punished and murdered for our sins. He was slaughtered as a Passover Lamb for each person in the world. Jesus also suffered being cut off from His people. He did not fit in with anyone here on earth. He stood alone in every aspect. This must have been why it was so hard to take the cup of Godís judgment, why He prayed so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. Isaiah even is accurate in speaking of Jesusí grave, the tomb of a rich man. He was crucified along with thieves, along with the wicked as part of the judgment of God.
Finally, in verses 10-12, we find out just a few more elements to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. First, Isaiah plainly states that the sacrifice was a success in that it pleased the Lordís will. The crushing of the suffering Servant Jesus left the will of God appeased. Also in this verse rests the hint of resurrection. It says that after he has made the offering, reminding one of the account in Matthew that says Jesus offered up His own spirit, and the place correlated in John when Jesus Himself says that no one takes His life, that He lays it down and takes it up again, we see here that once the sacrifice has been offered, the victory of God will arrive. The Lord will prolong His days after death and will see His offspring, or the result of His sacrifice, the saints who have believed on His offering. His sacrifice opens the door for the rest of those who believe to be accounted righteous.
The last verse of this song indicates Jesusí current position, also given by the New Testament that He makes intercession for you and for me now until the time of the culmination of Godís victory. He sits at the right hand of the Father and because of His sacrifice, He has the right to receive the inheritance of Heaven as the Prince to the throne. And we will also see that same inheritance through the eternal life given in His death and resurrection. All of these insights come out of the servant songs of Isaiah as they move from general to specific. And there are also other prophecies throughout the prophets concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Not only do we find inklings of Christís death and resurrection within the prophetic books, but because the entire Old Testament was written concerning Christ, to look forward to Him, there are other passages and even entire structures that bear meaning upon His death on the cross and resurrection. A glance at a few of these will further our understanding of prophetic and programmatic shadows of Christís sacrifice in the Old Testament literature.
In the book of Psalms, for example, the psalm quoted by Christ on the cross (Psalm 22) states that they took His garments and cast lots for them (verse 18). Other words from the cross that Christ spoke come out of Old Testament texts as well. One of the most interesting elements of Old Testament times was the sacrificial system at the end of the Law. No one could follow the Law, so a sacrifice had to be made to make up the difference, so that a holy God could live amongst an unholy people. Jesus made that ultimate sacrifice that paved the way for reconciliation of the relationship between God and humanity. His death and resurrection gave the authority and ability to become Godís children, to share in the suffering and victory of Jesus over sin, death, Hell, and evil. We now can live in His grace and live for His victory, joining in the triumph of our King!