Acts 26:22-25 – Jesus “Fleshed Out” as The Resurrection

2) THE RESURRECTION AND THE PROMISE

Summary of last week:
Luke 24:44–47 (ESV) — 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations…”

  • We looked at what Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms said about “the promise”.
  • We found it began as a promised offspring, land and nation and expanded to encompass a “continuously unfolding divine plan.”
  • We found that, from an OT perspective, there was not a central figure present known to the Jews as “The Messiah.”
  • But there was found a “shepherd”, “his salvation”, “his righteousness” and “Immanuel”, etc.
  • And we saw that Paul, Luke and the rest of the NT writers argued that Jesus was the fulfillment of all of the above and as such was anointed by God and so was “The Messiah.”

This leads us to today’s lesson, Part II, on how the death and resurrection of Jesus and relate to “the promises” of the Old Testament.

Today’s text:
Acts 26:22–25 (ESV) — 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” 24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.

What did Paul say about OT prophesy and the death and resurrection of someone in relation to “the promises”?

  • Not only did the NT argue that Jesus the Messiah was fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.
  • But they argued that His death and resurrection was also part of the Old Testament promises as we see in our text today.
  • Paul commended the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to verify his words, so we will too.

Now we need to investigate Paul’s claim that the OT said Jesus must suffer and that He would rise from the dead.
As we go forward, it may help us to know that even Jesus made the same claims that Paul and Luke were making in our text today.
For example, He said:

  • John 3:14 (ESV) — 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
  • John 5:45–46 (ESV) — 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

What the OT says about Jesus and his appointed suffering:

  • Psalm 22:1 (ESV) — 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
  • Psalm 22:14–18 (ESV) — 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
  • Isaiah 53:3–5 (ESV) — 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

What the OT says about Jesus and His resurrection:
The typical OT view of death is expressed in the following verses.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:19–21 (ESV) — 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return [dust is representative of Sheol]. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?
  • Psalm 104:29 (ESV) — 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
  • Job 7:9–10 (ESV) — 9 As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up; 10 he returns no more to his house, nor does his place know him anymore.
  • Job 20:11 (ESV) — 11 His bones are full of his youthful vigor, but it will lie down with him in the dust.
  • Isaiah 38:10 (ESV) — 10 I said, In the middle of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.

As you can see, there isn’t much hope expressed about the afterlife.

  • Life there unfolded “without purpose and without communication” – AYBD.
  • No contact with the living or with God.
  • Sheol was a place of no return from which very few have left.
  • Sheol was not a place of judgment, but a “place which awaited the living” – AYBD.

But there was present a hope that Sheol would be remedied through God’s power, love and justice.

  • 1 Samuel 2:6 (ESV) — 6 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
  • Isaiah 26:19 (ESV) — 19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
  • Psalm 16:10 (ESV) — 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
  • Hosea 13:14 (ESV) — 14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
  • Daniel 12:2 (ESV) — 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Initially, many of these verses of hope “used the idea of resurrection to express the national hope of the re-birth of the nation” – NDB.

  • But the NT writers made clear that these verses were, in light of Jesus suffering, resurrection and His own teaching, references to Jesus Christ the Messiah.
  • Acts 2:30–32 (ESV) — 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
  • Jesus Christ was sent by God and raised by God’s power, love and justice.
  • Jesus Christ’s resurrection made it possible that both the dead in Christ and the nation of Israel would be redeemed from Sheol.
  • Of course to us, the parallel seems obvious, but the Jew had a hard time with this concept.

Some of the barriers Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection posed for the Jews:
Barrier 1:
For death not to be an occasion of scandal and for it not to appear as an unacceptable occurrence, three conditions had to be fulfilled, as far as the Israelite was concerned” – AYBD.

  1. One needed to die “full of days” or in one’s old age not in “the middle of one’s days”(Gen 15:15; Job 42:17; Isa 38:19).
  2. One needed to leave behind descendants, especially a son (Gen 15 – Abraham & Isaac).
    1. Why a wife’s sterility was such a problem (1 Sam 1).
    2.  Why death of only son was such a problem (Amos 8:10).
  3. Funeral rites “had to be scrupulously observed” – AYBD (2 Sam 1:11–27; 3:31; Jer 16:1–9; Ezek 24:15–17).

Divine punishment against a guilty person was manifested precisely through a shortened life, the lack of progeny, and a corpse abandoned to wild beasts” – AYBD.

  • So surely the “righteous branch” and Israel’s deliverer, at the very least, would not have died young and had such an ignominious death and burial.

Barrier 2:
Deuteronomy 21:23 (ESV) — 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.

  • The specific way that Jesus died would have been seen as a rejection by God.
  • A savior-king ordained by God would not have died in such a manner.

The NT writers had answers to these barriers:

  • Galatians 3:13–14 (ESV) — 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The very reason Jesus could redeem is because he took on our curse and bore its shame and God’s rejection on the cross.

And the OT itself had foreseen the Jews rejection:

  • Psalm 118:22 (ESV) — 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
  • Isaiah 8:14 (ESV) — 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

POI – It is also interesting to note that scholars point out that a crucified savior would have also been offensive to “Greek sensibilities.”

  • Yet, importantly and remarkably, the NT writers never made any attempt to hide or play down the Passion of Jesus.
  • Paul, in fact, readily admitted that the Gospel was foolishness to the unbeliever and that the believer was a fragrance of death to the unbeliever.

A short, biblical summary of the relationship of the resurrection to the promise:

  • Hebrews 11:13 and 17-18 (ESV) — 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

Things to consider:

  • It is important to point out that the barriers or hang-ups were very much “cultural baggage” hang-ups that had so often plagued the Jews.
  • We must remember that we have them too, materialism, post-modernism, relativism.
  • All of these can cloud our ability to know and experience Jesus the way God intended as revealed in the Bible.