Having looked at the centrality of the resurrection, we will now consider its certainty. The two are, of course, related. If the resurrection is vital to our faith, then we need to be sure that it really did take place. So it is vital that we spend a few months looking at evidence for it from the Scriptures. We will do so in a very simple way: evidence from before the event, then at it, and finally, afterwards.
Paul reminds the Corinthians, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Cor 15:3-4, KJV). The “Scriptures” to which he refers are what we now know as the Old Testament. The Lord Himself spelled this out even more specifically as He spoke to His disciples after He had risen from the dead: “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me … Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:44, 46, KJV). We will look at some of the testimony from the Old Testament, under the three headings given by the Lord in the above reference.
David wrote: “My flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psa 16:9-10, KJV). This was quoted by Peter in his message on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:25-32), and Peter showed that David could not have been writing about himself, for evidently he is “both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day” (v29, KJV). He is equally clear that David “being a prophet … spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption” (vv30-31, KJV). Paul, in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia, also quotes from Psalm 16, and shows that it is fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ (Acts 13:35-37).
There are also many Psalms in which the resurrection of Christ is implied. For example, in Psalm 22, there is a great contrast between the first part of the Psalm, which speaks so graphically of the sufferings of Christ, and the second part, which speaks of great glory. In the first part He could say, “Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death” (v15, KJV), but only a few verses down the Lord Jesus (and it certainly is the Lord Jesus, as Hebrews 2:11-12 states) says, “I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee” (v22, KJV). The only way this could be possible is for Him to have risen from the dead. Another example is the verse quoted so often in the New Testament: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool” (Psa 110:1, KJV). This necessitates a risen Christ.
The books of the Old Testament prophets also show that the resurrection is essential. We will have to content ourselves with one example: another famous “suffering and glory” chapter – Isaiah 53, where the phrases “He was cut off out of the land of the living” (v8, KJV), followed closely by “He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand” (v10, KJV) means that He must rise from the dead.
Not only do the prophets foretell the resurrection, there are pictures of it in their writings also. The Lord showed this, speaking of “the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:39, 40 with Jonah 1:17, KJV). Here we see that the Lord Jesus Himself confirms that the story of Jonah’s sojourn in the fish was not only a real event, but that it was also a sign of His death and resurrection.
We can go right back to the first book of the Bible for other pictures of the resurrection. Take the offering of Isaac in Genesis 24. The writer to the Hebrews says Abraham “offered up his only begotten son … Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb 11:17, 19, KJV). The word, “figure,” is usually translated “parable,” and it is not difficult to discern of what it is a parable. The reference to him offering up his “only begotten” draws our minds to the One Who “spared not His own Son.” The conclusion that Isaac’s figurative resurrection is a picture of Christ’s actual resurrection is inescapable.
We can go back even further, for a less obvious but very precious picture. We read that, after the Flood, “the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat” (Gen 8:4, KJV). At the institution of the Passover, the Lord changed this month to the first month of the year (Exo 12:2) and instructed His people to keep the Passover on the fourteenth day of that month (Exo 12:18; Lev 23:5). As the Lord Jesus was crucified on this day, this means He rose on the seventeenth day – the anniversary of the day the ark came to rest on Ararat. That the Flood pictures the death and resurrection of Christ is confirmed in 1 Peter 3:18-21. So here, in Genesis, we have a lovely picture of the resurrection of Christ, a type which was fulfilled on the anniversary of its occurrence. How accurate and beautiful God’s Word is!
These cases, and many others, show that the resurrection of Christ is firmly grounded in the Old Testament.