The King Has Won
OT Prophecies of Christ’s 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, “Blasphemer! You call Yourself the Son of God? How dare you commit such idolatry!”
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 Jesus’ death. I have created an image of Jesus in the midst of His trial and beating on early Friday morning. 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 42:1–4, 49:1–6, 50:4–11 and 52:13–53:12. We will focus on them first, and then on a few other messianic passages which shine prophetic light on Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
First, the Servant Songs of Isaiah. The first of the Servant Songs (42:1-4) promises the Messiah will bring justice upon the earth through peace. He will bring justice by God’s Spirit and power to all nations. This speaks to his grace in bringing justice. He doesn’t use force, but through strength that accurately 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 God’s 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 servant’s 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’s trials and him on the cross. The uncanny accuracy and imagery form a testimony to God’s 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 and 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 Christ’s sacrificial death.
Let us momentarily comb through this passage together. First, in Isaiah 52:13, Jesus will be lifted up. This is a reference to the way He will die, by the cross. Those who died this criminal’s 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).
Isaiah 52:14 continues with 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 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.
Isaiah 52:15 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,), would sprinkle the nations and remove their sin and guilt so that they could have right relationship with God.
The mystery with which all of human history, 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 (Isaiah 53:1). At the time, they hurled insults at Him, but in this picture, they have just realized 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 associated with those who only know heartache and grief. There was no esteem to be given to Him. Jesus was nothing special. He didn’t parade Himself around as the Messiah. He was humble and was not seen for who He really is.
Isaiah 53:4-6 shows 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 God’s judgment.
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, salvation, and deliverance are all tied up in the same act of sacrifice. Jesus made all of these things possible for us.
Isaiah 53:7-9 maintains 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.
He 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 God’s judgment, why He prayed so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. Isaiah is even accurate in speaking of Jesus’ grave, the tomb of a rich man. He was crucified along with thieves, along with the wicked as part of God’s judgment.
Finally, in Isaiah 53:10-12, we discover a few more elements to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. First, Isaiah plainly states that the successful sacrifice pleased the Lord’s 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 us 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 Jesus’ 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 God’s 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 Christ’s 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 Christ’s 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 (Psalm 22: 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 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 God’s 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!
If you’ve enjoyed this trek through some of the most important prophecies of Jesus’ death and resurrection, leave a comment and tell me some of your insights into the Scriptures.