The Redeemer came to reunify the created to the Creator. Like the Good Shepherd that goes after the one lost lamb, He came so that all the lost have freedom to choose life. Life not given at first breath, but by means of faith in the One who died in our place.
But is there proof for our belief that Jesus is the Messiah and that he was resurrected from the dead?
Today, I hope to strengthen the minds of those of you who answered yes, and guide those who would answer no to the question above. We will look at one aspect of the proof of Jesus being the Messiah via the Old Testament prophecies and another for the proof of His resurrection from an eyewitness account.
First, in Isaiah 53, the prophet, Isaiah, prophesied about Jesus, the Messiah, 700 years before His birth and 733 years before His cruel death on the cross.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Today, the response to Isaiah 53 for the Jewish and rabbinical theologians is that the Suffering Servant described in Isaiah 53 was not referring to the coming Messiah, but to the nation of Israel. The first Jew to propose that Isaiah 53 is referring to the nation of Israel was Shlomo Yitzchaki, more familiarly known as Rashi (c. 1040-1105). According to Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek in their book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (2004), there are at least three reasons why Isaiah 53 cannot be referring to the nation of Israel:
- First, unlike Israel, the Servant is sinless. (53:9) If Israel is sinless, then why did God give the Jews a sacrificial system? Why did they have a Day of Atonement? Why did they constantly need prophets to warn them to stop sinning and to come back to God?
- Second, unlike Israel, the Suffering Servant is a lamb who submits without any resistance whatsoever (53:7) History show us that Israel certainly is not a lamb–she lies down for no one.
- Third, unlike Israel, the Suffering Servant dies as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of others (53:4-6, 8, 10-12) But Israel has not died, nor is she paying for the sins of others. No one is redeemed on account of what the nation of Israel does. Nations, and the individuals that comprise them, are punished for their own sins.
(Geisler and Turek, 2004, pp. 333-334)
Who alone in all of human history can match the description of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53? None but Christ alone.
Secondly, as we consider the claims of the disciples and apostles that Christ indeed rose from the dead, let us look at Paul. Paul is one of the primary proofs of the resurrection of Jesus. Let’s consider Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Acts 9.
Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9:4)
It is imperative that we distinguish this is Jesus addressing Paul for two reasons (verse 5).
First, this is pertinent in the revelation that when a Christ-follower is suffering, Christ Himself suffers too. What is done to the Body of Christ, the church, is done unto Jesus Himself. The Bible clearly tells us that persecution of Christ-followers is to be expected and that we should rejoice in our suffering. Saul of Tarsus, later called Paul, was a persecutor of the early church “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” (Acts 9:1)
Secondly, it is imperative that we note this is in fact Jesus talking with Paul because he is another eyewitness of the risen Savior. More specifically, an eyewitness by a professing enemy of the gospel following the ascension of Jesus into heaven. (See Acts 26) Paul’s conversion is significant in this fact as he was a primary witness of Jesus. Paul did not come to be a Christ-follower from a secondary retelling of the gospel; rather, he encountered the risen Savior himself.
The Old Testament prepares the way, and the New Testament documents the prophecies fulfilled. Now we who remain are looking to the clouds and eagerly awaiting His second coming.Leave a Comment