An event clearly foreseen by both Jesus
and the Hebrew prophets
An analysis by Dr. David R.
resurrection of the Messiah was well established in the Hebrew
prophetic scriptures long before the death and resurrection of
The Prophecies of David and
The most straight forward and best
known of the resurrection prophecies is the one penned by David
in Psalm 16:10, written a thousand years before the birth of Jesus:
"For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou
allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay."
On the Day of Pentecost, when Peter
preached the first Gospel sermon, he boldly asserted that God
had raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:24). He then explained
that God had performed this miraculous deed in fulfillment of
Davidís prophecy in Psalm 16. In fact, he quoted the words of
David in detail as contained in Psalm 16:8-11. Years later, Paul
did the same thing when he spoke to the Jews of Antioch in Pisidia.
Like Peter, he declared that God had raised Jesus from the dead
in fulfillment of Psalm 16:10 (Acts 13: 33-35).
The resurrection of the Messiah
is strongly inferred in another of Davidís psalms ó namely Psalm
22. The first eighteen verses of this incredible psalm describe
the suffering of the Messiah in vivid detail, even mentioning
the nature of His death: "They pierced my hands and my feet" (Psalm
22:16). Then, in verses 19-21, the suffering Savior prays for
deliverance "from the lionís mouth" (a metaphor for Satan). This
desperate prayer is then followed immediately in verses 22-24
by a hymn of praise in which the Messiah thanks God for hearing
His prayer and delivering Him. The resurrection of the Messiah
is clearly inferred between the ending of the prayer in verse
21 and the beginning of the praise song in verse 22.
The resurrection is spoken of more
pointedly in Isaiahís famous "Suffering Savior" passage in Isaiah
53. After prophesying that the Savior would suffer for our sins
and then be "cut off out of the land of the living," Isaiah states
that He "will see His offspring" and that God the Father will
"prolong His days" (Isaiah 53:5, 8 & 10). Isaiah proceeds
to reaffirm the promise of the resurrection in different words:
"As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see light and
be satisfied . . ." (Isaiah 53:11).
The Prophecies of Jesus
But prophecies of the resurrection
are not confined to the Old Testament. The New Testament contains
many of them in the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps the earliest one
is recorded in John 2 which tells the story of Jesusí first visit
to Jerusalem after the inauguration of His ministry. The Jews
asked Him for a sign to prove that He was the Messiah. Jesus responded
with a startling statement: "Destroy this temple, and in three
days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The Jews thought He was
talking about Herodís Temple, but John says, "He was speaking
of the temple of His body" (John 2:21). And John adds an interesting
observation: "When therefore He was raised from the dead, His
disciples remembered that He had said this; and they believed
the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken" (John 2:22).
Later, in His Good Shepherd discourse
recorded in John 10, Jesus stated that the day would come when
He would lay down His life on His own initiative. But, He immediately
asserted that just as He would lay down His life on His own authority,
He had the authority to "take it up again" (John 10:17-18).
At the tomb of Lazarus, right before
Jesus demonstrated His power over death by raising Lazarus from
the dead, Jesus said to Martha: "I am the resurrection and the
life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies" (John
Many times throughout His ministry,
Jesus spoke privately to His disciples about His death and resurrection.
For example, right after Peterís famous confession of Jesus as
the Son of God, we are told that "from that time, Jesus Christ
began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and
suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed, and be raised up on the third day" (Matthew 16:21
and Mark 8:31).
In Matthewís gospel it is revealed
that immediately after His Transfiguration, Jesus told His disciples
that they should not share the experience with anyone until after
He was raised from the dead (Matthew 17:9). Mark relates the same
story in his gospel, but he adds that the disciples "seized upon
that statement [that He would be raised from the dead], discussing
with one another what rising from the dead might mean" (Mark 9:9-10).
It appears that the disciples never fully comprehended the meaning
of Jesusí prophecies about His resurrection until after the resurrection
had actually occurred.
Even though the disciples always
seemed to be bewildered by statements about His resurrection,
Jesus continued to make the claim to them that He would be killed
and then resurrected on the third day (Matthew 17:22-23; 20:18-19;
26:31-32; Mark 10:32-34; and Luke 18:31-33).
In speaking of His resurrection,
Jesus often resorted to the use of a powerful symbolic prophecy.
He called it the "sign of Jonah." When the Jews would ask Him
for a sign (that is, a miracle) to prove that He was the Messiah,
he would respond by saying, "An evil and adulterous generation
seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the
sign of Jonah" (Matthew 16:4). On at least one occasion, He defined
exactly what he meant by this rather enigmatic expression: "Just
as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea
monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights
in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).
The resurrection is also symbolically
portrayed in the life of Joseph. His brothers betrayed him just
as Jesus was betrayed by His Jewish brethren. Josephís brothers
then threw him in a pit and told his father that he was dead.
Jesus actually died at the hands of His brethren. But Joseph was
rescued from the pit in a symbolic resurrection that pointed to
the actual resurrection of the Messiah. Later, Joseph presented
himself to his brothers, and they received him as their savior,
just as Jesus will one day reappear when the Jewish people are
willing to look upon Him who they have pierced and cry out, "Blessed
is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Zechariah 12:10 and
One of the most beautiful and moving
portrayals of the resurrection in symbolic prophecy can be found
in the life of Abraham when he was told by God to sacrifice his
precious son, Isaac. As Abraham was ready to plunge the knife
into his son, an angel restrained him, and his sonís life was
given back to him as a symbol of the Messiahís resurrection. The
writer of Hebrews recognized the symbolism of this story when
he wrote: "He [Abraham] considered that God is able to raise men
even from the dead; from which he also received him [Isaac] back
as a type" (Hebrews 11:19).
The Fact of the Resurrection
These prophecies were fulfilled
when Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead. His triumph over
the grave certifies that He was who He said He was ó namely, the
Son of God (Acts 13:33).
Jesus has overcome death, the great
enemy that is feared by all mankind (Hebrews 2:15). He has therefore
been given authority over both death (the body) and Hades (the
spirit). Jesus Himself proclaimed this great truth to John on
the island of Patmos: "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the
last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive
forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades" (Revelation
One day soon Jesus will appear in
the heavens. He will bring with Him the spirits of those who have
died with their faith placed in Him. He will resurrect their bodies
in a great miracle of restoration, and then He will reunite their
spirits with their bodies, giving them glorified bodies that will
be perfect and immortal (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians