Prophecy of Suffering
Since it is Easter week, how about we examine a few prophecies that Jesus would have fulfilled this week, namely through his suffering. There are many passages that speak about the future Messiah’s (that is Jesus’s) suffering. Psalm 22:1-2, 43, 41:9, 69:9, Isaiah 52-53, and Zechariah 11:12 are just a few passages that speak to some of the suffering. In them, it is clear that Jesus will face the Father turning His back on the Son. He will also face betrayal and abandonment from his closest friends. He will be spat upon, mocked, and beaten. But even with all that, he will not have any bones broken. After all the scourging, clothes being ripped off, and crown of thorns, Isaiah 52 explains that Jesus would be so disfigured that he would not even look human. The Messiah was going to have to come, be abused, and ultimately die for mankind.
But why did Jesus have to die for mankind? I mean, in the Old Testament, they made sacrifices to God that were supposed to wash away the people sins for a time, right? Let’s take a quick look at the sacrificial practices of that day. According to Leviticus 1:5-6, they were to flay the offering. That basically means they skinned it. The Hebrew word there carries the picture of stripping clothes. Deuteronomy 17:1 and Leviticus 22:24 explain that the sacrificial lamb or ox were to be without blemish or deformed. They were to be whole, clean, unbruised and healthy. Leviticus 17:11 explains the importance of blood in the sacrificial process. The blood of the sacrifice would be sprinkled on the altar, put on the horns of the altar of incense, and sprinkled in front of the veil of the sanctuary.
Did you notice something there? The sacrifices were skinned, pure, and blood put on the altar. Go back to the Isaiah 52-53 passages and read through them slowly. They explain that the Messiah would essentially be skinned. If one was to read through Matthews account of the crucifixion, they will see Jesus being flogged, beaten, a crown of thorns placed on His head, and then a robe put on and ripped off. When the Romans would whip someone with the flagrum (also called scourge and contained small bones, glass, and metal attached to a number of leather strands), it was meant to quickly remove skin from the person. Essentially, it is flaying the back (and if it wrapped around the shoulders, chest, and stomach). Jesus lived a sinless life and as such was without blemish and pure. Again, He fits the description for a sacrifice that would take the place for the sinner. Finally, His blood was spilt to cover the sins of mankind.
Isaiah 53:7 speaks about how Jesus was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He was silent. He did not argue for his sake. He kept his mouth shut in order that people everywhere, from Adam and Eve until the last one is born, are able to be in the presence of God. In John 1:29, John the Baptist proclaimed “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” when he saw that Jesus was coming his way. Heb 9:12 explains that Jesus went into the Holy place, not by the way of the blood of goats, but by His own blood. The end of chapter nine explains that the blood of the goats, sheep, and ox were not perfect. The priest had to go sacrifice annually for the nation. Christ Sacrificed himself once, unlike the priests of old, because he was the perfect lamb.
Isaiah 53:9 explains that He will die with the wicked, but buried like a rich man. When Jesus died on the cross, he was hanging next to two criminals. He died a criminal death. But instead of being buried as history shows those who are condemned to crucifixion (left on cross for a long period of time, buried in shallow graves, left for wild animals and birds), he is buried in a new tomb. All four gospels explain that Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus and buried Him in Joseph’s tomb. Joseph does not have much known about Him. What is known, is that he was on the Sanhedrin council, was rich, and was a good and righteous person (See Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:43-45, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42). He did not give consent (see Luke’s gospel) to the death of Jesus. He was a disciple of Jesus, although not one of the 12, and it is possible that he was a secret disciple, like Nicodemus.
But that is not where the story ends. Jesus fulfilled many prophecies about his suffering, death, and burial. But, more importantly, He did not stay dead. He rose from the death, and as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 “conquering death and sin.” In the book by Lee Strobel The Case For Christ, he gives an account of a conversation between himself and Dr. Craig Blomberg. In this conversation Lee asks about a bodily resurrection. Blomberg pointed out that the Jews believed the bones were the primary object of the resurrection (Strobel, 210-211). The Jews would not have believed that Jesus rose from the dead, if His bones were still in the tomb. Thanks be to God who allowed Him to rise bodily, and who will one day give those who believe a bodily resurrection changing this corruptible body for an incorruptible one.