By Tim Mize
Let us think for a moment about this truth and its significance, that Christ died for our sins “according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3).
This stress on scriptural backing goes back to the earliest gospel preaching. Those early audiences were skeptical. As they saw it, this Jesus was a nobody, a peasant man from a peasant town. He had wandered about as a popular preacher and healer, and had raised the hopes of some, but he had died a failure, executed by the Romans on a cross.
One might wonder how the apostles were able to persuade anyone. And yet they were, and with great success. They were able to show that a humiliated, dying Christ was actually the will of God. This they did by pointing to two things, that God had raised him from the dead, and that the scriptures themselves teach that the Christ must suffer.
Those first hearers accepted the authority of scripture. And they believed already in its promises of a blessed hope for Israel. More surprising would have been this suggestion that according to the scriptures, these hopes are fulfilled through so humbled a Christ as this. The apostles encouraged them to search the scriptures to see that it is so (Acts 17:2f, l Of).
To what scriptures did they point in their support? They pointed to those that depict the righteous in their sufferings (such as Pss. 22 and 69). If such things are true of the righteous, how much more of Christ, the Righteous One? They pointed to those that foretell specific episodes surrounding his life and death (for example, Zech. 11:12-13; 12:10; Ps. 69:21; Isa. 53:9). They held up Isaiah 53, which prophesies clearly of the suffering and dying of the Servant of God. And they cited those that speak of the resurrection of Christ (Ps. 16:10).
Truly, Christ died “according to the scriptures.” Let’s understand not only the fact, but the significance of this. If Christ died according to the scriptures, then God must have a plan that he has been working out through the ages. God does have a plan. It involves a blessed destiny for us, his people. It is a plan that is often hidden in its workings, but that he has always had, has always been working out, and even now pursues. From time to time God has uncovered it and allowed humanity to see it at work. The death and resurrection of Christ, foretold and testified of in scripture, stands as the supreme and climactic exhibition of God’s on-going, redemptive work for us (Acts 2:23; 4:28; Gal. 4:4f).
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 and overrules all things. And we need to be reassured that this same divine plan that displayed itself in the cross is governing all things toward our happy end.
The death of our Savior 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 XXXVIII: 5, p. 7
March 3, 1994