By Tim Mize
Gathered as we are today to remember die Lords death, let us think for a moment about this truth and its significance, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures ~ Cor. 15:3).
This stress on scriptural backing goes back to the earliest preaching of the gospel, when the apostles first proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ. Those early audiences would have been skeptical. This Jesus was a nobody, a peasant man from a peasant town. He had wandered about for a time as a popular preacher, teacher, and healer, and even raised the hopes of some, but he had died a failure, executed by the authorities on a cross.
We might wonder how those preachers managed to persuade anyone to believe it. Yet they did, and with great success. They affirmed that humiliated, dying messiah was actually Gods plan, and they pointed to two things to prove it the fact that God had raised this Jesus from the dead, and the fact that the scriptures themselves testify that the messiah must suffer.
Their audiences already accepted the authority of scripture. They already believed, too, in its promise of a blessed future for Israel. More surprising would have been the suggestion that according to the scriptures these hopes were to be fulfilled through as humble a Christ as this. The apostles encouraged them to search the scriptures to see that these things are so (Acts 17:21, 10f).
What scriptures did they point to in support of such claims? First, there were those that describe the suffering of the righteous in general (such as Pss. 22 and 69). If these things are true of the righteous, how much more of the Christ, the Righteous One? Secondly, there were those that foreshadow particular events surrounding Jesus death (for example, Zech. 11:12-13; 12:10; Ps. 69:21; Isa. 53:9). Thirdly, there was Isaiah chapter 53, which speaks explicitly of the suffering and dying servant of God. Lastly, there were those that tell of the resurrection of Gods Holy One (Pss. 16:10).
So then, when we say that Christ died “according to the scriptures,” we mean that God has a plan, a plan that involves a blessed destiny for his people, which he has always had, has always been working out, and even now pursues. We mean that from time to time humanity has received manifestations of this plan at work, which affirm its reality and its goodness. Most of all, we mean that the death of Jesus stands as one such manifestation of this plan. Indeed, it stands as the supreme and climactic demonstration of the on-going, redemptive work of God (Acts2:23; 4:28; Gal. 4:40.
In a world of whirlwind change and unrelenting trouble, we need to hear this gospel. We need to hear that God has a plan that overarches all, and overrules alland that even now this same irresistible power that was demonstrated in the cross drives all things toward the happy end of the righteous.
The death of our Savior, then, was no accident, no mistake, and no afterthought. It was planned and worked out by God to demonstrate his love and work for our redemption. We can only wonder at what further demonstrations lie ahead.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 20, p. 7
October 21, 1993