Details of the coming Messiah are given in Isaiah, including the family he would be from and unmistakable signs that could not be duplicated. The nature of his character and aspects of his ministry were written down, 800 years before he was born. Today we will look into the passages of Isaiah that describe the crucifixion and even consider if the resurrection was foretold.
I’m not going to copy and paste all of Isaiah 53, but you should read Isaiah 52:13 through the end of chapter 53. After linking to Bible Gateway you can easily choose another translation or put two or three side by side for comparison. Some well known, often quoted prophetic statements include: his servant acted wisely, shall be high and lifted up, marred beyond human semblance, grew up with no form or majesty; no beauty, He was despised and rejected by men. All of these attributes could easily apply to the Jesus we read about in the Gospels. But then on the cross: he has borne our griefs and sorrows, smitten by God and afflicted, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, with his wounds (or by his stripes) we are healed. They made his grave with the wicked, although he had done no violence. As you continue to read Isaiah 53, a clear picture is drawn of how the crucifixion satisfied God’s wrath even as Jesus was silent before his accusers. Finally in 53:12 “…he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for transgressors.” Read through it a couple of times. All of these details far exceed the possibility of coincidence when we study the details of the crucifixion, an event recorded in all four Gospels, and other passages written by Peter and Paul. The New Testament Book of Hebrews begin with the work Jesus did in his incarnation and goes on to connect the dots of how he fulfills for Christian believers the work of Old Testament priests. Everything they did back then was illustrative of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
Is the resurrection prophesied? There is no doubt the resurrection is foretold in the Old Testament. What about in Isaiah? Look at the whole of Isaiah 53 and notice how the verb tenses change in verses 10-12. The last lines of verse 10 say he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. His death and burial are described in past tense, even in this prophecy of future events. But verse 10 begins to look ahead to things he will do. He will make many to be accounted righteous in verse 11. He shall bear their iniquities. In verse 12, he bore the sin of many is in past tense, referring to the work finished on the cross, but makes intercession is present tense because it is work still being done in this present time. Jesus is seated at his Father’s right hand where he ever lives to make intercession.
This series of posts is about finding Messiah in Isaiah but while we’re on the subject of the crucifixion in the Old Testament… think about Jesus’s final words. We have very few statements recorded that Jesus actually spoke while on the cross but one of them is My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? This is often interpreted as Jesus lamenting over the fact that he is alone for the very first time, God turning his face away as the sin of the world was placed on him. But this teaching is not scriptural. God does not sin and is not tempted to sin, but when does the Bible ever suggest God does not look at us? He loved us while we were yet sinners according to Romans 5:8. Read Psalm 22, the source of Jesus’s statement. What if Jesus was calling the words of the Psalmist to mind, which he often did during his preaching and teaching ministry. Isaiah and Psalms were the scriptures most often quoted by Jesus. Psalm 22 begins in despair but the tone changes when David realizes all God has done and how good he is. The short chapter takes us on a journey beginning with despair but ending in rejoicing. The mood changes in the middle just like Isaiah 53. Jesus knew the crucifixion wasn’t the end of his story. Jesus is claiming the truth of scripture and offering encouragement to his followers! Even while on the cross he continues to do the work of ministry; not just the work of redemption but encouraging believers to not lose heart but rather trust in God. Rejoice because God is in control. That’s what Jesus was really saying. God knew what would happen before, during and after the crucifixion way back when David and Isaiah were writing. For that matter, he knew before the foundation of the world was laid.