“If Chapter 13 is the great ‘love chapter’ of the New Testament, [Chapter 15] is its great ‘resurrection chapter.’”[i] The physical resurrection of Yeshua from the dead, is the most important historical fact that our faith is founded on. With it, we have hope for the future, without it, we are, of all people, the most pitiful.[Read 1 Cor. 15:1-20] [ii]
Significance of this passage
When we started talking about the Letter to Corinth, we mentioned that the date of “Paul’s missionary stay in the city of Corinth is one of the most certain in NT chronology.”[iii] Based upon archaeological evidence and Dr. Luke’s eyewitness testimony, Sha’ul visited Corinth from March 51 AD to August/September 52 AD. He then stayed in Ephesus between early Summer 53 AD to late spring 56 AD. This would put the writing of this letter in 54 AD.[iv] Why is this important with regards to this chapter we just read? Well, Sha’ul states in (Vs. 3) that he had spoken this teaching of (Vs. 3-8) to those in Corinth, and that he had received it earlier. from the Apostles. The reason that the date of this letter, and the date that Sha’ul shared these principles with those in Corinth are so important, is that there is no time for myth and legend to enter the story. The Resurrection formed the basis of the faith in Yeshua from the very beginning. Next, Sha’ul makes is completely clear in this chapter, that without the resurrection of Yeshua, there is no hope of salvation, nor is there any reason to follow Yeshua. (Vs. 12-20) make it explicitly clear, that without the physical resurrection of Yeshua from the dead, we, of all people, are the most pitiful.
Messiah Died for our Sins According to the Scriptures
(Verse 3b) states that the Messiah would die for our sins according to the Scriptures. How many people know of a scripture that this might be referring to? … Firstly, the shedding of blood is essential in providing our means of atonement as it says in (Lev 17:11). However, this was the shedding of an animal’s blood, not a human’s. So where do we get the idea that the death of an Anointed one “the Messiah” would atone for anyone? Well there is a “redemptive analogy found in Judaism … that the death of the righteous brings atonement to the world.”[v] Michael Brown shows in Volume 2 of his series Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus that Orthodox Judaism teaches through the Torah and Jewish Tradition that “the death of the righteous serves as an atonement for the sins of other men, ‘as an expiation for the sins of the nation or the world.’”[vi] Now that we understand that this is “not some new doctrine that the ‘Christian church’ created,” but rather a “thoroughly Scriptural and … Jewish” concept, we can go into the different Scriptural passages that point to the death of Messiah.
I want to cover this passage first because, not only is it the most well know passage that refers to the Messiah suffering, but is also the passage of Scripture that brings more Jewish people to trust in Yeshua than any other. This passage is the 4th servant song in Isaiah, and here we see a Suffering Servant acting in a priestly role. “The phrase ‘cut off’ strongly suggests not only a violent, premature death but also the judgement of God. (Ge 9:11, Ex 12:15)”[vii] We also see that the death he dies is not for himself. Rather the Messiah dies for the “transgression of my people – the stroke was theirs.” He had “done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” Finally, I want to point out from this passage, that Adonai considered the death of this suffering servant as a guilt offering which refers to (Lev. 5).
Both Peter (Acts 2:27-31) and Paul (Acts 13:13-41) refer to this Psalm in their sermons about Yeshua. David is writing by the Ruach and declares that his soul will not be abandoned or left in Sheol, which means “the grave,” no would he “see decay.” Peter states that David was obviously dead and buried there in Jerusalem. But prophetically David saw one of his descendants who would die but who’s body would not see decay and who would not be left in the grave.
The entirety of this Psalm speaks of the gruesome death of someone righteous. How do we know that this passage is even prophetic? Does this passage only talk about David? Why not? Did David suffer like this? Was he glorified like this? What about the son of David?
Yeshua quotes the first line of this song while He hung on the cross. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” Even though the method of crucifixion was not developed for hundreds of years after David, but what is described here could have been written at the foot of the cross. The Psalmist speaks of his bones being out of joint, his heart failing, his tongue clinging to the roof of his mouth. Each of these have been medically shown to be results of the Roman scourging and crucifixion process. Here is Yeshua on the cross, with the soldiers gambling for his clothes at his feet, abandoned by his followers, and alone. I cannot read the passage without coming to tears for the price that He paid. Not only do we see that death was prophesied for the Son of David, but we see that it was a painful heart wrenching death.
In this passage David once again agonizes over the rejection of Messiah. Yeshua applied Verse (4) 5 to himself because He was hated without a cause (Jn 15:18-27). This is interesting because the Rabbis teach that the reason for the destruction of the Second Temple was “Baseless Hatred.”[viii] Matthew (27:34,48) and Mark (15:23,36) also record how Yeshua was given vinegar to drink as is stated in Verse 22.
Daniel gives the time that a Prince Messiah would come to: “Bring and end to transgression, bring sin to an end, atone for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up vision and prophesy and anoint the holy of holies.” It is difficult to calculate the exact date of when the decree was given to rebuild the second temple and none of the Apostles quote this passage. However, there are several parts of this prophesy that we can be assured of. Firstly, the Messiah must come before the destruction of the second temple and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, as spoken of in (Vs 26). Secondly, the role of this Messiah will be a priestly one, and yet he is called a Prince. We see that this princely messiah would deal with sin as a priest would. This priestly prince follows the pattern set by David. The author of the letter to the Hebrews picks up this theme in relation to Yeshua as the High Priest in the heavenly realm “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4, Heb. 5 – 7).
In looking forward to a time when all Israel, in particular Jerusalem, would return to Adonai, the prophet Zechariah sees and interesting vision. Zechariah declares that all the inhabitants of Jerusalem would look upon Me (referring to Adonai, Vs 2) whom they have pierced. So, the question arises, how can we pierce Adonai? Without blinking, the Prophet switches tenses and says that, “they will more for him as one mourns for and only son … a firstborn.” This switching of tenses is often used in the Torah, when Moses is describing the manifest presence of Adonai. Times like the burning bush (Ex. 3), the discussion of Abraham about Sodom with the third being who turns out to be Adonai (Gen. 18).
This verse is quoted by both Matthew (26:31) and Mark (14:27) in reference to the dispersion of Yeshua’s talmidim after he had been arrested. The concept of the good shepherd was always a reference to Adonai (Eze. 34, Zach. 10:1), however, Yeshua personalised this and declared, “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11) But Zechariah declares that the shepherd would be struck or killed.
Application and Conclusion
All these passages point out that the Messiah, the Son of David, the Suffering Servant and the Good Shepherd must die. We must understand that both the death and the resurrection were foretold by the prophets, hundreds and thousands of years prior to Yeshua dying. Next week we will cover the Scriptural prophesies of the Resurrection. I know that we have only covered half the story, Yeshua’s death. But without His death, there is no Resurrection. Islam teaches that Yeshua never died on the Cross, and we must understand that these passages in Scripture demand that the Messiah must die for the sins of the world. Yeshua is the ultimate righteous remnant of one who laid down His life as a guilt offering to cover all of our sins.
[i] Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern, pg. 484.
[ii] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[iii] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., Vol 11, Verlyn Verbrugge, pg. 247.
[iv] Ibid. pg. 248.
[v] Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Vol 2, Michael Brown, pg. 154.
[vi] Ibid, pg. 155.
[vii] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., Vol 6, Geoffrey Grogan, pg. 801.