The Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, predicted that the promised Holy One would not remain dead, but would rise again. King David wrote this about a thousand before Jesus:
“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:8-11.
This prediction was fulfilled. The Apostle Peter refers to this passage in his first sermon in Jerusalem, on the Day of Pentecost which was fifty days after the Passover when Jesus died —
David said about him: ” ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. Acts 2:25-31
The Apostle Paul also refers to this when speaking at the synagogue (Jewish worship center) in Thessalonica —
As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Acts 17:2-3
In addition to this direct prediction, two apparently conflicting lines of Prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures are best reconciled by logical inference that the Messiah would be killed and then resurrected.
The first line of prophecy concerns the death of the Messiah. (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53) Psalm 22 contains rather a rather graphic description of death by crucifixion, a method of execution developed centuries later by the Romans. Here are some excerpts:
“1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 8 “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
Some think that Jesus actually recited this Psalm while on the cross because he also said “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The details following this phrase were certainly beyond the power of Jesus, if a mere mortal, to control. But the Gospels clearly show that these details were fulfilled.
The second line of prophecy predicts the Messiah’s long political reign in Jerusalem (Isaiah 9:6; Dan 2:44).
Isaiah 9:6 — For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor; Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Daniel 2:44 — “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
How can someone who died such a disgraceful death now become the Promised King over all creation. Note that the Jews of Jesus’ time were only looking for the political ruler, which is understandable under the Roman oppression they suffered. Unfortunately many missed the full story. In order to fulfill both parts of the prophecy, Jesus had to rise from the dead.
If I had lived at that time, I would like to think that I would have understood, but . . . . After His resurrection, Jesus stayed several weeks in order to explain it, so even His disciples and close followers didn’t get it at first.
After describing the crucifixion, Psalm 22 concludes on a note of triumph:
You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help 25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. 26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him– may your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, 28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. 29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him– those who cannot keep themselves alive. 30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. 31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn– for he has done it.
Yes, He has done it indeed. The sacrifice He made on our behalf is completed, God the Father accepted it on our behalf, and Jesus has returned to the right hand of the Father, with the promise to return at a future time and rule over all. Truly He is the Once and Future King.