Sermon: Christ Fulfills the Scriptures
Scripture: Matthew 5:17
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means that Jesus fulfilled what was written in the law and the prophets.
Theme: David and Isaiah
We turn to the Psalms, and there we also find great prophecies. For David was a prophet, at least according to Peter who spoke about one of his prophecies on the day of Pentecost, and he probably understood more about the significance of Christ’s coming than anybody else in the Old Testament period except Isaiah. Thus, we look at the twenty-second Psalm and there find an awesome description of Christ’s death by crucifixion.
Someone will say to me, ‘Do you mean that when David wrote this psalm with all of its colorful language—I am poured out like water, my bones are out of joint, my strength is dried up like a potsherd, they pierced my hands and my feet, they part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vesture—that he was clearly and literally visualizing a future crucifixion of God’s Messiah?” I do not know. I tend to think that perhaps this was the case. But we read of other Old Testament prophecies that the ones who wrote them failed to understand. In Daniel’s case we even have a record that the prophet prayed to God for understanding and was told that the things he had written were not to be understood in Daniel’s time but were for a future age. This may have been the case with David. But whatever the case, this psalm is a magnificent description of death by crucifixion—the best description in all literature, ancient or modern. And the significant thing is that it was written, not in the Roman era when crucifixion was practiced, or even years later by someone reflecting on what it must have been like, but a thousand years before the world had ever seen a crucifixion, and by David who thus, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, looked forward in faith to the one who was to come.
Moreover, it is not only the crucifixion that David pictured. He also foretold the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the fact that the body of the Messiah would not decompose during the time it lay in the tomb before the resurrection. He wrote, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol, neither wilt thou permit thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). On the day of Pentecost Peter quoted these very words to show that they had been fulfilled literally in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The final passage that I want to mention as a prophecy of Christ’s coming is probably the greatest single prophecy in the Old Testament: the Isaiah 53. It is great because it explains the significance of Christ’s death so clearly. What is that significance? When Jesus Christ died on the cross by crucifixion, he died not for himself but for you. He died for others. Thus, Isaiah says that “he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed… The Lord hath lain on him the iniquity of us all.” What is prophesied here is the fact that the coming one, the “seed” of Abraham who was first mentioned back in the earliest chapters of Genesis at the beginning of God’s dealings with the human race, was to die vicariously, for others, by which death they would be healed. This Jesus did. Thus, this prophecy among all the others was one that he came specifically to fulfill.
What does Psalm 22 show us about Christ? What significant point about this psalm is made in our study?
What do we learn about Jesus from both Psalm 16 and Isaiah 53?
Reflection: What other Old Testament passages can you find that prophesy something about the work of Christ?