The Resurrection of Christ: Part 6
Dr. Rafat Amari
The Resurrection of Christ in Isaiah chapter 53
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 that 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 a reference 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 were 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 died, 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 did not 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 people 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 religious authorities 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 religious authorities, 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 is 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 that 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 humankind’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 humankind, even though we fell into sin and transgression.
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 cannot 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 cannot act as though a sinner never sinned. He cannot 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 humankind 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 humankind’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 humankind’s unrighteousness, and the work that He accomplished brought forgiveness to humankind and declared him acceptable before God.
Copyright 2006 by Dr. Rafat Amari. All Rights Reserved.