What Prophesy Says About The Resurrection Of Christ

How can you be sure Jesus rose from the dead? This is a fact all true Christians readily accept. However, unbelievers generally regard the resurrection story as a myth. Is there any way we can prove the resurrection of Christ as a fact of history? Is there any evidence to back up our faith?

There are a number of approaches that can be made to prove the resurrection of Christ. One of the most remarkable evidences of the resurrection is what we will call the resurrection model. The resurrection model is the story of Christ’s death and resurrection prophesied in the Old Testament and also by Christ. In this study, we will see that Old Testament prophets painted a consistent and complete scenario of what would happen in the events of Christ's death and resurrection. Furthermore, we will discover that Christ prophesied his own death and resurrection in a way that exactly matches the scenario depicted in the prophets. We will examine this resurrection model as built in the prophets, as told by Jesus, and what actually took place. From this examination we will build a case for the historical fact of the resurrection of Christ.

The Resurrection Model From The Prophets

In this section of our study, we will examine the writings of three different prophets; David (in the Psalms), Isaiah and Zechariah. Many other prophets could be used to strengthen the case, but with limited space we will use just these three. David lived about 1000 b.c. He was a shepherd boy, a musician, a warrior and finally, king over Israel for the last forty years of his life. Isaiah was a prophet of God in the land of Judah around 750 b.c. Zechariah prophesied after the Babylonian captivity around 500 b.c.

All their writings are well preserved in ancient manuscripts, translations and historical writings. There is no reasonable doubt that there was once a David, an Isaiah and a Zechariah who wrote the things ascribed to them. Even though these men's lives were separated by centuries, culture and circumstance, they all paint a consistent picture of what would happen in the death and resurrection of Christ. This collective prophetic picture constitutes our resurrection model.

1. In Psalm 22:6 David says of Jesus, "But I [am] a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." According to Isaiah in Isaiah 53:3 "He is despised and rejected of men...he was despised, and we esteemed him not." These men prophesied Jesus would be rejected by his generation. This is the first piece in our resurrection model.

2. The second piece is found in Psalm 35:11 where David says, "False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge [things] that I knew not." This is the prophesy that witnesses would lie about him and falsely accuse him in order to get him crucified.

3. Next, the prophets said he would be delivered to the Gentiles to be killed. In Psalm 22:16 David says, "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet." The words "dogs" and "assembly of the wicked" refer to the Gentiles, indicating the Gentiles would have part in crucifying Jesus.

4. The fourth element of the resurrection model is the fact that Christ was scorned and mocked. This is found in Psalm 22:7-8 where David says, "All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, [saying], He trusted on the LORD [that] he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him." Also note Psalm 35:16. "...With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth." These and many other verses depict a consistent picture of his shame and suffering.

5. The fifth component of our resurrection model is that he was spat upon. In Isaiah 50:6, Isaiah prophesied of Christ, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting."

6. Number six is his manner of death, the fact that he was crucified. This manner of death is implied in Psalms 22:16 where he said, "they pierced my hands and my feet." This, of course, was accomplished in crucifixion.

7. The seventh component in our resurrection model is the prophesy that Christ's suffering would take place at Jerusalem. In Zechariah 9:9 the prophet says, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." This says the Christ would bring his salvation (vicarious death) to Jerusalem.

8. The final segment in our resurrection model is David's prophesy of the resurrection of Christ in Psalm 16:10 where he says, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." The holy one of Israel, Christ, would not be left in his tomb. Instead, he would rise from the grave victorious over death.

The Resurrection Model From Jesus

Christ built the same picture of his resurrection as did the prophets long before him. Great details of these events are mentioned in the following passages and in many other places.

1. In Luke 17:25 Jesus said of himself, "he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."

2. In Matthew 16:21 he referred to those who lied about him when he said, "...he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes..."

3. In Matthew 20:19 he spoke of the Gentile's part in his crucifixion. He said, "And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify [him]."

4. This reference also mentions the fourth element of our model, that Jesus would be scorned and mocked.

5. Luke 18:32 says he would be spat upon.

6. The above reference in Matthew 20:19 confirms that crucifixion would be his manner of death.

7. In Luke 18:31 Jesus said these things would take place in Jerusalem.

8. Finally, in Matthew 17:23 Jesus prophesied, "...the third day he shall be raised again."

Throughout his ministry, Jesus consistently built the same resurrection model found in the prophets. This in itself is remarkable, that several independent prophets, separated by centuries, would construct a consistent story and then Jesus comes along and builds the exact same model of events. What is even more remarkable is the fact that this model was exactly fulfilled!

What Actually Happened

It is a matter of historical record that Jesus was crucified. Not only do we have the testimony of the four gospel writers, we also have record from other historians, both Christian and non-Christian. Suffice to say that the gospel accounts recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are consistent with the record of Roman and Jewish history from the first century. Here is what their record says took place.

1. In Matthew 27:23 the people of Christ's own generation rejected him as they, "...cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified."

2. In Matthew 26:59-60 it gives record of the false witnesses saying, "The chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, [yet] found they none. At the last came two false witnesses."

3. In Matthew 27:2 he was delivered to the Gentiles, "when they had bound him, they led [him] away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor."

4. In Matthew 27:27-31 we read of how they mocked Jesus. "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band [of soldiers]. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put [it] upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify [him]."

5. The above reference and Matthew 26:67 records how "...they spit in his face..."

6. Matthew 27:35 confirms that crucifixion was the manner of death which he died.

7. Matthew 27:33 and the context verifies that this all took place at Jerusalem and Golgotha, a hill just outside the city.

8. Matthew 28:6-7 The angel said of Jesus, "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead..."

The prophets and Jesus constructed a resurrection model prophesying these and many other events. In every detail they were all historically fulfilled. The model predicted Jesus would be rejected by his generation, and he was. The model predicted he would be lied about, and he was. The model predicted the Gentiles would be directly involved in his death, and they were. The model predicted he would be scorned and mocked, and he was. The model said people would spit upon him, and they did. The model predicted he would die by crucifixion, and he did. The model said this would happen at Jerusalem, and that is where it all took place. In every detail the predictions of the prophets and Jesus were fulfilled. The fulfillment of these first seven points is verified in history, in and out of the Bible. Why should we then believe the last prediction did not come true? If Christ and these prophets could independently foresee these events exactly as they were to take place, why could they not also foresee the resurrection? In fact they did, and the resurrection is just as true as their other things prophesied.

Skeptics might say Jesus could have read the prophets and based his predictions on theirs. Then push the Jewish and Roman officials to kill him. However, if he were an ordinary man, there were many events beyond his control. He could not make them lie about him. He could not force them to mock him or spit on him. He could not make them crucify him. The elements of the resurrection model were too specific and dependant on others for an ordinary man to manipulate. Since these events would be beyond the control of an ordinary man, Jesus was obviously no ordinary man. The same power that allowed him to foresee and control the events of his death also allowed him to come out of his grave, victorious over death. The resurrection of Christ is a fact of history well supported by strong evidence. You can serve Christ with the assurance that he arose from the dead.