“For as yet they did not understand the Scripture that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9).
Where do the Old Testament Scriptures say “He must rise again from the dead?” Many aspects of the life and ministry of the Messiah had specific prophetic predictions in the Old Testament. But search for a direct prediction of this essential event in the Old Testament and you will come away empty handed.
Jesus certainly predicted His own resurrection, although the disciples struggled to clearly understand Jesus’ own words as well (Matt 16:21–28).
Missing the Forest for the Trees
Hidden in plain sight in the Old Testament are the countless examples of God’s deliverance of His people from their various hard circumstances. The Exodus was God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian captivity. God used Samson to deliver Israel from the Philistines. God delivered King David from the hand of King Saul. However, all of these “deliverances” were temporary and God’s people and their chosen deliverer still died.
Deliverance of the Righteous
During a time of trouble, Israel’s King David asserts to God, “You have tried my heart. You have tested me and You find nothing. I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. . . My steps have held fast to Your paths. . .I have called upon You. For You will answer me, O God. Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech. Wondrously show Your faithfulness to me” (Psalm 17: 3–7). David was taking God at His word that God would certainly deliver the righteous from times of trouble (cf. Ps. 91; esp. Ps 91:15). David classified himself as one of “the righteous” and expected deliverance. God did deliver him from the hand of King Saul.
The Ultimate Trouble
However, King David was not delivered from the ultimate trouble—death (Acts 2:29). For he could not assert nor maintain his innocence throughout his life until the end. In fact, another Psalmist recognizing the ultimate trouble of death laments, “What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Where is your faithfulness, O Lord?” (Psalm 89:48–49).
While the Psalmist questions God by asking, “Where is the Lord’s faithfulness to deliver?”, God’s very sobering answer is that His faithfulness to deliver will be toward the faithful one. In that answer, all of humanity is immediately robbed of any hope for deliverance from the ultimate trouble. For there are no faithful ones.
The Only Righteous One
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s grand and glorious display of His approval of His Son. God delivered Jesus from the ultimate troubles—physical death (the grave) and spiritual death (separation from God the Father) because His Son was the only faithful One. Not only was His Son perfectly faithful to His Father to the point of death, the Son, in addition, suffered vicariously on behalf of humanity. Truly the Father delighted in His Son. Thus, God’s resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the culmination of all of the Old Testament patterns of God’s deliverance of the righteous one— or more specifically, The One. In the Psalmist’s words, God did indeed, “wondrously show His faithfulness” to the ultimately troubled one (Psalm 17: 3–7).
Your Hope In Jesus’ Resurrection
God’s deliverance from the ultimate troubles is amazingly available to you and me, the faithless ones, by faith in The Faithful One. That is the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!