The Resurrection of Christ
The solid truth of the resurrection is compared to the false claims of Mohammed through which he elevated himself in the eyes of his followers.
The claim of Mohammed about his night trip to the non existent
people follow Mohammed in his false, historically inaccurate, incompatible and
controversial claims? Why were they ready to support him like we saw in the
case of Abu Baker? We see people who took a leading role in Islamic leadership
lining up behind Mohammed. When he said something others would question, why
were they ready to lie in order to keep other Muslims from backsliding
and leaving Islam? What would Abu Baker gain by sustained Mohammed's false
claim which led the rest of his companions to trust Mohammed ?
The answer may lie in the prestige it gave Abu Baker. When he claimed to have visited Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem, and described the building, though we know that the temple had been destroyed in 70 A.D., as a good and loyal follower, he collaborated with Mohammed and the lie he told. Not only did this shed light on his dishonesty, but Abu Baker, through this trickery, was confirmed as a leader behind Mohammed, gaining him the title of Sadik, and making him the first indisputable believer behind his master. He gained his position only by adopting the same falsehoods used by his master, convincing and deceiving the naive and simple followers who did not question any thing Mohammed claimed. His followers were superstitious, not willing to think or question or search for what was historically and logically true.
When we compare the solid proofs of the resurrection with the claims of founders of religions, we see that the truth was not left obscure and hidden.
The founders of most religions claim to have seen visions and had experiences in secret, without anyone testifying to the veracity of what they claimed. Mohammed became, in the eyes of his followers, the greatest prophet in history by claiming he mounted the baraq, or winged camel, to visit a non-existent temple to preach to all the prophets gathered there. This incident and Abu Baker’s confirmation was the rationale for elevating Mohammed over the other prophets in the eyes of Muslims.
When we compare Mohammed's claims with the proofs of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we see how God makes the truth clear to the true seeker. The resurrection of Christ didn’t need to be “helped” by inventing untruth and collaborating with false witnesses such as Abu Baker.
After the death of Christ the disciples hid themselves in a room. Peter had already denied Jesus three times during the trial, swearing that he never knew Him. But then came the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It transformed the disciples into strong witnesses, ready to die for the fact of the resurrection. Why? Because the risen Jesus appeared to them on the third day after His death, and ate with them. In the gospel accounts, they independently testified to what they saw. They didn’t have to take someone else’s word for it. They met Jesus personally like Paul met Him on the road to Damascus.
The resurrection met the test for those who were seriously doubtful and skeptical.
Doubting Thomas was absent when the risen Christ
appeared to the disciples. Thomas said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of
the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into
His side, I will not believe.” He was not disappointed. After eight days His
disciples were again together in a room and Thomas was with them. Jesus came,
the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He
said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here and look at my hands. Reach your hand
here and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas
answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” So, we see that Christ dealt
with kindness toward Thomas who doubted His resurrection. Jesus helped him
weigh the evidence, and gave him faith to believe. On the contrary, Mohammed
killed those who doubted his claims.
Allow me to illustrate this for you. In 1953 Hillary and Tenzing, a British team, put their feet on the top of Mount Everest in the Himalayan Mountains. Thus, the highest point on earth had been trodden by man. No one today would say, “The top of Everest has not yet been discovered unless I put my feet on the top of the mountain.” Similarly, the resurrection was acknowledged by Thomas, a most skeptical and doubtful critic, who did not believe until he put his finger into the print of the nails, and put his hand into Jesus’ side where He was pierced. So, Thomas touched Him and was convinced the resurrection was true. Thomas, was representative of many doubters and skeptics through the years.
The resurrection dealt with the disappointment of His followers who saw Him crucified. It brought faith to people who were unaware the resurrection was a fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.
The resurrection of Christ was not an image
painted on a wall. It was not an hallucination or a piece of fiction. But the
risen Christ appeared to many people gathered together. He not only appeared to
them, but He sat with them and ate with them. He continued to appear to them
for 40 days, instructing them to evangelize the whole world, not with the sword
but with the same love He had already demonstrated on the cross.
He appeared in person on the day of the resurrection to two disappointed disciples, who had left the room before He appeared to the whole group that night. This happened on the way to the village of Emmaus near Jerusalem. As the disciples walked to Emmaus, He accompanied them explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament which foretold of His death and resurrection, but they failed to recognize Him.
Finally, He entered into a house with them, and sat with them at the table. He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. The Bible says their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. Then He disappeared from their sight. They said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” This was before His appearance to a larger group that same night.
The risen Christ appeared to many people and interacted with them for forty days. It’s impossible to consider His resurrection as an abstract or hallucinatory experience or any thing other than reality.
When a historical figure sits and eats with a
group of 12 people many times during a forty-day period; when He trains them
for a task they will perform; when His presence alone convinces them of the resurrection,
we would never suggest they met with His shadow, or that the group was
hallucinating. A hallucination doesn’t interact with people or eat or sit with
A person experiencing a hallucination, usually by a negative, wicked spirit, sees the spirit in each direction he looks because the hallucination is in his mind. Mohammed spoke in that regard when he said that in every direction he looked he saw Gabriel. This was not an angelic apparition. Angels, when appearing to the prophets, were seen by the prophet or the person to whom they appeared in the direction in which they appeared or stood.
Those who are experiencing hallucinatory visions due to negative spirits, usually are also affected by a type of schizophrenia. Medical science proves that a person who suffers many hallucinations may end up with a form of schizophrenia. The biography of Mohammed mentions Mohammed suffered a severe condition. His wife and close companions describe various symptoms. He used to think he was doing a certain thing without doing it.[ii][ii]
one of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Because schizophrenia at that time was
not diagnosed, his close friends thought that Mohammed was charmed by the Jews.
But the severe symptoms continued for more than six months. Mohammed's disease
had to do with the many hallucinations he experienced.
On the other hand, the resurrection was seen and experienced by the early disciples. It was not just the experience of one person who claimed to see it in secret. The founders of other religions, such as Zoroaster, Mani, and Mohammed all claimed to see angels while they were alone, but the resurrection of Christ was attested to by all the disciples and the large group which joined them. There was not just one appearance, but continuing appearances of the risen Christ during the 40 days before His ascension.
The risen Christ, before He went to heaven, appeared to five hundred Christians in one group. Of these people, many were alive when the Christian message reached other parts of the ancient world. At the time Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, most of them were alive. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 15:6, “After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.”
Paul could not say this if the experience was not real, famous, and well-known to many Christians. Many of those five hundred may have been seen by the Corinthians themselves, since those who saw the risen Christ reported their encounters with Him not only in Judea but in many parts of the Roman Empire.
The risen Lord appeared not just to His followers, but to one who was among the most aggressive antagonists of the Christian faith.
After the ascension of Christ to heaven, He appeared to Saul, who, after his conversion, became known as the Apostle Paul. Saul, before his conversion, was a great persecutor of the early church. Here’s the account from Acts 22:4-11. Paul says “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, to be punished.
“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near
Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you
“So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ The people with me saw the light but didn't hear the voice.
“So I said, ‘what shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’
“And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.”
Because of the appearance of Jesus Christ to him, Paul became a fervent apostle testifying to the Jews and Gentiles about the resurrection. From a position of great honor in Judaism, Paul became a humble servant of Jesus after the risen Christ appeared to him. Paul was persecuted and was stoned many times for Jesus’ sake, until his martyrdom in Rome. Paul’s testimony that he saw the risen Lord is important because he was an enemy of the Christian faith. He came to faith not through someone’s preaching the Gospel, but through Jesus’ appearing to him in person.
The truth of the resurrection contrasts with the illogical excuses invented by those who wanted to hide it.
After seeing the risen Christ, none of His
disciples withdrew or turned back from their assertion that He was alive. The
apostles of Christ became martyrs as a result of the truth they witnessed.
It is one thing for the followers of Christ to support Him, but in this case, even the enemies of Christ testified that the tomb of Jesus was empty. But lacking the truth, they had to find an excuse, no matter how illogical. They said the disciples of Christ came at night and stole the body. How could a few disciples plagued by fearfulness and cowardice suddenly become so bold and courageous? When they accompanied Jesus during His trials the night before the crucifixion, they all denied Him. To escape the Romans, they hid themselves in a locked room. It is inconceivable that only a day later, they could be transformed into brave fighters against the Romans and the Jews. It doesn’t make sense that they would risk their lives to challenge the soldiers who were guarding the tomb. They knew they couldn’t prevail against the well-armed guards.
But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose it happened as the critics say. Would not the Jewish authorities chase the disciples to see where they had put the body of Jesus and severely punished them? The Jewish authorities would certainly have traced them and found the body to prove that the claim of the disciples of Christ was false. But the authorities never did so, because they knew the disciples had not stolen the body.
When the guards returned to their superiors, they told the authorities what happened that morning at the tomb. They said, “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending out of heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.”
It’s evident that the Jewish leaders wanted to hide the news about the resurrection. We read about this in Matthew 28:12-15, “When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them, His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept. And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will appease him and make you secure.’ So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
These incidents show us that the tomb was empty as the authors of the Gospels wrote. Through the years Christians rejoice in the fact so many people saw the risen Christ and the empty tomb. Although religious leaders lied and guards were bribed to spread falsehoods among unbelieving Jews, their excuse was not reasonable. Jesus is the Christ, and He has risen from the dead.
The resurrection of Christ is a fact ascertained by the disciples of Jesus and a great number of believers reaching 500 in one setting. This stands in stark contrast to the claims of the founders of religions like Mohammed’s who claimed they saw things in secret without presenting one witness to testify to what they claimed.
Can the truth be bound in claims? Can claims contradict history, as when Mohammed claimed to have visited the Temple of Solomon although it didn’t exist in his time? It is time for our Muslim friends to distinguish between the truth of the Bible and the historically false claims of Mohammed.
We continue our study on the resurrection of Christ. We focused on the fact of the resurrection. The risen Christ appeared to the disciples many times within a 40-day period, eating with them and explaining their mission to evangelize the world. He appeared to 500 people gathered together in one place on one occasion. Therefore, we conclude the resurrection of Christ is a fact testified to by many who saw Him after His resurrection.
This is contrary to the claims of Mohammed and the founders of other religions, who claim to have experienced super phenomenal signs in secret without anyone ever testifying that what they claimed was really true. Previously, I mentioned as an example that Mohammed claimed to have mounted a winged camel to travel one night to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Although he claimed the temple existed during his lifetime, we know the temple was destroyed by the Romans around the year 70 A.D. It couldn’t possibly have been in existence at the time of Mohammed.
It’s one thing to hear from witnesses proven to have lied and quite another to examine statements made years earlier that forcast the events before they happened. Now we’ll focus on some of the prophecies about the resurrection. Since it was foretold by Jesus and by Old Testament prophets, this implies it was a divine fact planned by God long before it occurred.
Christ foretold His own resurrection
During His public ministry, Jesus told His disciples He was going to die and be resurrected from the dead on the third day. Matthew 16:21, says “From that time forth, Jesus began to show his disciples, how He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
Before He ever experienced the cross, Jesus said His death and resurrection was to be a great sign given to His generation. Luke 11:29-30 says:
And when the multitudes were assembled, He began to say: “This evil generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given to it, except the sign of Jonah, the prophet. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation.”
In Matthew 12:40, Jesus tells us more about this sign. He says:
“ For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it. They repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, someone greater than Jonah is here. ”
While many of Jesus' Jewish contemporaries refused to believe in the resurrection, the men of Nineveh did believe the prophetic symbols predicting both the coming cross and the resurrection. He was the One who is greater than Jonah because He created Jonah.
The same signs given to the people during Jesus' day are given to us today. The cross and the resurrection are signs telling us that judgment will be applied to those who deny that Jesus Christ was raised to life, the third day after His crucifixion.
Jesus also spoke symbolically about His resurrection in John 2:19
He said to the Jews: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said: “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered what He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
Since the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was telling the Jews: “ It’s true you are going to kill me in an effort to destroy my body, but I am going to raise my body on the third day as a sign that I am the everlasting divine Son of the Triune God.”
The resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament
Our rise to a new, spiritual, victorious life was promised to us in the Old Testament as a consequence of the resurrection of Christ.
Not only did Jesus promise His resurrection, but our resurrection to a new, spiritually victorious life was promised in the Old Testament as well. Hosea prophesied a spiritual resurrection for all believers. We read in Hosea 6:2:
After two days He will revive us. On the third day He will raise us up.
Man can not be victorious because the human nature is unable to live according to God’s spiritual requirements. But Hosea gives us a promise that a radical change will happen. This change, we are told, will take place on the third day. You can see that this is in reference to the resurrection of Christ, who rose from the dead on the third day.
The Bible tells us when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He became the first fruit of those who will experience resurrection, as we read in 1 Corinthians, 15:20
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The resurrection of Christ gave us life, because the spirit of the risen Christ has been given to those who believe in Him so that they can conquer their weakness and the Adamic dead nature in which they live. Therefore, it is written in Ephesians 2:6, “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ. ”That’s why the resurrection of Christ foretold in the Old Testament points to the resurrection of all believers.
It was prophesied that the body of the Christ put in the grave would not suffer corruption, neither would His soul remain in Sheol.
In Psalm 16:10 there is a clear prophecy about the resurrection of Christ:
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
The “Holy One” is a divine title. The psalmist is prophesying about the death of the Divine One whose body reaches the grave. The Psalm tells us that God the Father will not allow this divine person to remain with those who died in the Old Testament, neither will He allow His body to undergo corruption like other humans who die. Corruption of our bodies is a consequence of the curse when sin was brought into the human race. But Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is sinless, so the curse of sin has no power over His body.
Peter, the apostle, quoted this prophecy from Psalm 16 in Acts 2:29-32 on the day of Pentecost to prove the resurrection of Christ. He said :
“Men and brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, God would raise up Christ to sit on His throne. Seeing this before, He spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither did His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”
The resurrection of the Messiah is a common theme of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Every time a book of the Old Testament describes the atoning death of Christ, it’s followed by references to His resurrection. His return to life is honored because He was willing to die as a ransom for the sins of mankind.
Consider Psalm 22 as an example. It describes the sufferings of Christ on the cross. In verses 7 and 8 we read a prophecy about the Jews ridiculing Jesus while He was on the cross. It says:
“All those who see me, ridicule me. Theyshoot out the lip. They shake their heads, saying,'He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him. Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him.’”
This was fulfilled exactly. When Jesus was crucified, the Jews ridiculed Him, and said to him in Matthew 27:43, “Let’s see if He is the Messiah. Let God rescue Him and deliver Him. ”
The psalm describes how horrible His death was. Suspended on the cross, He feels His bones pulled out of joint. Unable to move any part of his body, shortly all his joints are exhausted. Because the blood is diminished, gradually His heart becomes weakened until He feels as if it has melted within his chest. The next step is severe dehydration which precedes death.
Psalm 22:14,15 describes the experience of the suffering Christ and His death on the cross:
“I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax. It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.”
The next verse, 16, specifically alludes to the cross, when it says the soldiers pierced His hands and feet. The verse specifies that the crucifiers were gentiles when it describes them as “dogs” because Jews, at the time of Christ,
considered Gentiles to be dogs. Here is a prophecy which says the ones who will pierce the Messiah will not be Jews. In fact, the Jews who insisted that Christ be crucified used the Romans to do the job.
The text continues:
“For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet.”
In verse 18 the psalm prophesies about something that happened after Christ's hands and feet were pierced and He was put on the cross:
“They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
In the Gospels, you will find the role the Roman soldiers played. John 19:23-24 says:
When they had crucified Jesus, they took His garments, including the tunic, and made four parts; each soldier was given a part. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves: “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. ” Therefore the soldiers did these things.
Although the Psalm was written hundreds of years before the crucifixion, it accurately describes of the scene at the cross. The psalm declares that the Messiah, after His crucifixion, will lead the church, called the "great assembly," and will glorify the heavenly Father through the church that will be born as a result of His sufferings. This is a clear indication of His resurrection after His terrible death on the cross. We read these words in Psalm 22: 24-25:
“I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You. My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him. ”
The next verse tells us that seekers of truth will be satisfied as the result of the death and resurrection of Christ:
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!
The poor intended here are the poor in spirit, the ones who feel their need for the Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 5:3: “
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 27 shows the result of the death of the Messiah. From all parts of the world, people will turn to the risen Messiah and worship Him:
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.
Verse 29 says the strongest nations of the earth, called the “prosperous of the earth, ” will benefit spiritually from the death of the Messiah and will worship Him. It says:
All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive.
The last clause, “even he who cannot keep himself alive, ” refers to those who do not have part in the blessed eternal life because they failed to believe in the death and resurrection of the Messiah. One day they, too, will bow before Him in fear. This will happen on the Day of Judgment, when they will stand before Jesus Christ as righteous the judge of all.
Psalm 22:30 prophesies that the death and resurrection of the Messiah will be spiritually good news for all generations, “Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. ”
The Psalm concludes with verse 31 which says the righteousness of the Messiah and the importance of His death will be handed down to future generations. It Says:
They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.
The people intended here are not only future generations in general but the people who will be born-again through their faith in the redemptive death of Christ. The psalm prophesies that the work of Christ will be the central belief of the church, which will be born spiritually as a result of faith in the death and resurrection of Christ.
Has the Christ who’s death was foretold, become the Christ you’ll see in heaven? He can be, if you will accept His death as the atonement for your own sin.
“To as many as received Him, to them, He gave the authority to become children of God. ”
Accurate theological descriptions of the death and resurrection of Christ are found in Isaiah chapter 53
We already examined some of the Old Testament prophecies which told us about the resurrection of Christ. I would like to continue our study by focusing on the accurate theological descriptions found in Isaiah, chapter 53.
Although Isaiah lived in the 8th century B.C., he prophesied the death of the Messiah, and explained why it was important that He suffer and die for our redemption and salvation. In Isaiah 53:4-5 we read:
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Notice that Isaiah says, “He was pierced for our transgressions.” This is clearly an allusion to His death on the cross by which He paid for the transgressions of the world. The wounds caused by the crucifixion are visible signs that we can now be spiritually healed from sin and given peace with God. Although our sins put us in continual animosity against God, Christ reconciled us to God through the atoning death of His Son.
You may ask what we did that made us enemies of God. Verse six gives us the answer. It shows how we went astray from God. Everyone has formed his or her own philosophy in life, and has his or her own religious thought. Isaiah says:
All we as sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins.
Straying from God is more serious than you might think. God calls it sin. Notice that the consequences of our sin was put on Him. He was our substitute to fulfill the justice of God. Our estrangement from God was so serious that it required Christ to die. But He did die, willingly.
Isaiah 53:7 tells us that Christ did not resist the cross when it says:
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
He didn’t resist because He knew He had come to die as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
John the Baptist, came to prepare the way before the Lord, as was prophesied in the Old Testament. When he saw Jesus, he said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus could easily have avoided the cross and escaped His persecutors with one word as simply as He calmed the tempestuous sea. But He refused and He said, “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled?” By this he was alluding to His atoning death.
In Isaiah 53:8, the prophet said:
He was taken from prison and from Judgement. Who shall declare His generation?
Isaiah was predicting that the Jews of Jesus time would fail to recognize the importance of His death:
In His humiliation, His judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death.
Verse 9 gives us more details about the Messiah’s death and burial when it says:
And they made His grave with the wicked and with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.
When we turn to the New Testament and read about the crucifixion, we see two thieves crucified with Jesus, making His grave with the wicked. We also see the second portion of the verse fulfilled when the Jews and Romans condemned Jesus to die as an evildoer though no sin was found in Him. Finally, when we read the Gospels, we find that He was buried in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a secret disciple of Jesus. Because he was afraid of the Jews, Joseph asked Pilate if he could have the body of Jesus to give it a proper burial. When Pilate granted permission, Joseph took the body of Jesus, and buried Him in Joseph’s own tomb.
How could God love His own Son, yet allow Him to die as the penalty for our sins?
The symbol of the sword in the Old Testament represents the justice of God. In many prophecies it descends on Christ. One example of the sword of justice is found in Zechariah 13:7 which says:
Awake, Oh sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My eternal companion, declares the Lord of hosts. Strike the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered.
The shepherd here is Christ who cares for us. He is described as the “eternal companion” of the Father because He is the third person of the Trinity, existing from eternity past. Yet, Zechariah prophesied that God, the Father, would order the sword of divine justice to come down on Christ even though they were united from eternity. Zechariah predicts the Person who shepherded all creation would die by the sword.
Zechariah’s words are supported by chapter 53 of Isaiah. God, the Father, saw His beloved Son placed on the sacrificial altar as a substitute for sinful humanity. He was paying the penalty that divine justice required. That’s why the Father was pleased to treat Him as the substitute for sinful humanity. Divine justice was satisfied when God placed on Him all the castigation which sinful people should have suffered. We see this clearly in the 10th verse:
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He has put Him to grief. When You shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see his seed, He shall prolong his days and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
The sword of divine justice fell, and God, the Father, accepted it as the solution for mankind's dilemma and future. Christ became flesh to be sacrificed for the sin of humanity. He became the substitute, demonstrating once for all that God loves mankind, even though we fell into sin and transgression.
đđ What was this dilemma ? God loves man, yet, God never fails to apply His justice when a man sins. Even a human judge seeks to provide justice. He can't absolve a criminal from his crime. How much more will God exercise justice when it is written in Psalm 89:14, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne?” God can't act as though a sinner never sinned. He can't absolve him from his iniquity. How can God, who is holy and hates sin, allow Himself to be in fellowship with sinful people?
Although God is love and demonstrated His love for the human creatures He created, His love and mercy never surpass His justice. Otherwise, the devil and his angels could accuse God of having accepted sin and forsaken justice.
But thank God, who pleads our case before the tribunal of heaven. His justice is on display by the angels of God and by the devil and his angels. God sent His Son in the flesh to condemn sin in human flesh. Jesus in His humanity lived in continuous perfection without committing sin, nor was there found in Him any spiritual or moral defect. He behaved blamelessly in all His ways. Ultimately, He became a substitute for mankind in order that He might endure the consequences of man's sin. Therefore, the loving Father was pleased to put the penalty on Him that every sinner was required to endure.
When Jesus accepted making His own righteousness a substitute for mankind's unrighteousness, and that the sword of divine justice fell on Him rather than falling on men and women, Jesus opened the way for the mercy, grace and forgiveness of God to rest on every person who believes in His redemptive work. The righteousness of Jesus became a substitute for mankind's unrighteousness, and the work which He accomplished brought forgiveness to mankind and declared him acceptable before God.
Isaiah prophesied that the Redeemer-Messiah would rise from the dead and become the head of a new spiritual movement, the church
But the story doesn’t end with Christ’s redemptive death. Isaiah prophesied that the Redeemer-Messiah would rise from the dead and become the head of a new spiritual movement, the church. This would satisfy God’s heart.
We return to the 10th verse of Isaiah 53:
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
Here we see Isaiah prophesying that the Messiah would die as a sacrifice for sin, then “He would see His seed and prolong His days.” This is a clear reference, to the resurrection which occurred three days after the death of Christ. The seed of which Isaiah spoke are people who believe in Christ. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus, who died for the sins and iniquities of men, became the head of a new seed. Although we are born from the seed of Adam who died in sin, Christ died and rose again to become the head of a new seed. Therefore, those who believe in His atoning death for their sins are born spiritually from Him. They take on a spiritual nature through the work of the Spirit of the risen Christ.
Isaiah prophesied the success of God's kingdom in the hands of Christ after His resurrection. Isaiah says, “And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” The good pleasure of the Lord is to call souls from every nation and tribe to spiritual fellowship with His Son. This good pleasure was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost and the church was founded in Jerusalem. Today, the work of the Lord continues to prosper and spread throughout the earth. Because of God’s wisdom and leadership, His kingdom will experience success on earth and in eternity.
In the 11th verse, Isaiah predicts that Christ, because of His atoning death, will see great fruits, “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.” This means He will see souls trust in Him and love Him. These fruits are “the labor of His soul” because He sacrificed himself unto death in order to redeem those souls.
Isaiah prophesied about the justification before God for those who will believe, and have a spiritual relationship with the Messiah as their redeemer.
Isaiah continues in verse 11:
By His knowledge, My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.
Justification means the one justified is seen by God as being without sin and therefore, without blame. How can a sinner who is wanted before the justice bar of God be considered righteous and be justified although he knows he is guilty? The answer is found in that Jesus paid for our sins. Jesus is righteous and without sin, defect or blame. Nevertheless, He paid the penalty for our unrighteousness when He died on the cross.
Consequently, there is no more liability to satisfy the justice of God for the sinner who puts his trust in the expiatory death of Christ. All its requirements of divine justice were met when the righteous Jesus was punished. He lay on the altar of the cross as the substitute for humanity. Therefore, the one who believes in Jesus the redeemer is seen before the court of heaven as one whose sins were placed on Jesus when Jesus died on the cross as the substitute. This is the justification that Isaiah spoke about.
When Isaiah says, “By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many,” he intimates that the One who died on the cross was not the deity but humanity, since deity can't die. Though he has the divine nature as one person of the Triune God, yet He died as a man who was an obedient servant of God, a vicarious atonement. He became the representative before the justice of God. Isaiah tells us that we obtain justification through knowing the Messiah. When he says, “By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many,” he implies that justification comes by knowing Jesus personally and not just through an intellectual faith, without spiritual relationship with the redeemer who died and rose again to justify sinners.
The second part of the verse, “For He shall bear their iniquities,” confirms that Jesus paid for the sins of the world when He died on the cross. He hung there voluntarily as a representative of humanity in order that He might receive in His body the punishment which every sinner had to encounter.
Isaiah prophesied that the Father would grant honor to the Son, by making the fruits of His atoning death to be found among the richest and the greatest nations of the earth
The Father granted honor to the Redeemer- Messiah. The fruit of His atoning death can be found among the richest and the greatest nations of the earth. Isaiah said:
Therefore, I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
The Jews rejected Him and they esteemed Him not, as Isaiah told us in the beginning of chapter 53. They saw Him humiliated and disdained on the cross. Instead of seeing His suffering for their redemption, they despised Him. Isaiah expressed this in Isaiah 53:2-3:
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
With such an attitude toward the sufferings of Christ, the result was not limited to the unbelief of the Jews. The heavenly Father placed the fruit of the cross in powerful nations and among great people, as we saw in verses 10 through 12. History testifies to the veracity of Isaiah’s prophecy. Many citizens of the greatest and most powerful nations in history have believed in Christ, and trusted His great work for their redemption. The sign of the cross was graven into the crowns of Rome's emperors. Christ the redeemer has been venerated by some of the most powerful world leaders who led the richest nations on earth.
What was the reason for this honor? Isaiah says, “Because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors.” Jesus voluntarily accepted death because He knew He was the substitute for transgressors, and had to be treated as if He were a sinner. Though He was righteous, He bore the penalty for the sins of the world.
Isaiah prophesied about Christ’s intercessory role.
Isaiah finishes His prophecy in the last part of verse 12:
And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Christ died for the sins of whole world. But more specifically, His sacrifice is applied to those who place their trust in His great atoning death, especially for them. For those who fail to place their trust in His great redemptive work, but commit to another way, the death of Christ is ineffectual. The non-believer will face the divine justice, the wrath and the ire of God in the Day of Judgment. But whoever believes in Christ is saved and will not pass through judgment.
The 53rd chapter of Isaiah concludes with Jesus interceding for sinners who believe in His atoning death for their sins.
He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Though Isaiah prophesied these words in the 8th century B.C., they express the Gospel declaration today. When Christ died on the cross and was resurrected, He justified everyone who believes in Him, and He makes intercession for them before the throne of God.
Since the resurrection has a solid foundation in Scripture and history, it provides a basis for believing.
The book of Isaiah in its entirety, including the prophetic words of chapter 53, is found in the Greek version of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint. It dates back to the third century B.C. We also find Isaiah’s words in the Qumran manuscripts that date back to the second century B.C. These early versions add to the integrity of the Bible.
Another thing to consider is that the Old Testament was in the custody of the Jews, who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. They expected the Messiah to be a king who would liberate them from the Romans, not a redeemer who would die for their sins as He is portrayed in Isaiah. So how is it that the Jews would change their sacred books in favor of Jesus of Nazareth? In spite of the misunderstanding of the Jews concerning the mission of the Messiah, the prophecies about the death, resurrection, and deity of Christ still fill the pages of the Old Testament.
We have seen that the atoning death and the
resurrection of Christ has a solid foundation in Old Testament prophecy. We
have also seen how the Isaiah passage has its fulfillment in the New Testament
and points to Jesus as the Messiah. The historical facts are attested to by
first century writers.
Seeing Jesus as the Messiah predicted in Isaiah is more than an intellectual exercise. The church was strengthened by the fact they believed that Jesus rose on the third day, was seen by many including one group of believers numbering 500, and appeared to other well-respected people such as James, Jesus’ half brother, and Saul, who had been an antagonist of the Christian faith. The resurrection has a solid foundation the seeker can believe in.
Copyright ã 2004 by Dr. Rafat Amari. All rights reserved.