It Was All Predicted
April 4, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Lloyd Gross
IT WAS ALL PREDICTED
by: Rev. Lloyd Gross
What an irony! Herod ruled by Jesus' leave, yet his henchmen mocked Jesus, crowning Him with thorns. With a small hand gesture Jesus could turn the lot of them into rocks, but He waived His prerogatives as King of Creation. He merely commended His soul to His heavenly Father. The mockers had their day. The Lord's disciples were disappointed.
There was no doubt that Jesus was dead. To verify the fact, the centurion pierced Him through the chest with a spear. He had done that in battle many times, to men who had far more to live for. Why should it bother him now? All he knew about Jesus was that everybody hated Him, and that it was about religion. He sighed. What a thankless job this was! Such a stupid day, a poorly-organized execution! First they wanted Jesus to die slowly, as an example to anyone who would make similar claims. But as the Sabbath approached they changed their minds, they wanted Pilate to speed it up. They needn't have gone to the trouble. Jesus was already dead. The executioners broke the thieves' legs so they couldn't push up and exhale. They suffocated soon afterward. But Jesus had to fulfill all the prophecies, including the one in Psalm 34 that none of His bones would be broken. The spear thrust would have finished Him off if there had been any life left in Him, but when blood and water flowed out there was no doubt.
The two disciples Jesus met on the road knew that. Now they were feeling sorry for themselves. They had lost their faith. As they plodded slowly toward Emmaus they considered themselves totally defeated. They did not have the same kind of doubts our neighbors have. These men did not doubt that the resurrection was possible. Only the Sadduccees doubted that. Their problem was that they didn't expect the resurrection to happen with Jesus. They saw His death as a curse, a curse on message and Messenger alike, and consequently upon their own hopes and dreams. Life would go on, but its flavor had departed. Zeal to accomplish great things for the Messiah now appeared to be nothing but gullibility to a con man.
It was probably comforting to have another traveler walk beside them. They did not recognize the Risen Lord. So He spoke to them about the Bible. They were Jews; Moses and the Prophets were part of their education. They had memorized much of the Hebrew at an early age. This new companion brought it back to them, showing them that what they had experienced had all been predicted. Jesus showed them how He is the main theme of the Hebrew Scriptures. He began with Moses - not the story of Moses, but the Torah, the books of Moses which start with creation, the flood, and the patriarchs. He continued with the Prophets until He had shown them the unmistakable promise - that the Messiah would gain the crown by carrying the cross. There was Abraham at 100 years of age, by divine power begetting the son God had promised him. So Jesus would be born of promise in a miraculous way. The Ten Commandments included the Sabbath. That forced inactivity on Saturday foreshadowed the day that God would be dead. In First Samuel He could point to the Song of Hannah, the prophet's mother. The Church still uses that song today, we call it the exultavit cor meum. Consider what Hannah said: The Lord kills and makes alive. He sends to the grave and brings up again. What did that mean? Those are the Spirit's own words, words in the Old Testament that teach about the next life.
Imagine the field day the Lord must have had when He came to Jonah. Then there were the Psalms, where we find phrases like: You would not leave Him in the grave, nor would you suffer your Holy One to see decay. How can that not teach the resurrection? Then there is Psalm 118: the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Not only is that about raising the dead, but it explicitly says the Messiah will be rejected, yet somehow would return to establish His kingdom. That was a Bible class taught by the very One who fulfilled it. The disciples began to take comfort. Luke quotes them as saying their hearts burned within them. All was not really lost.
These passages call us to faith as well. There are no angels standing here compelling us to believe. We can see that God made promises and fulfilled them. God has proved Himself to be worthy of our trust. Jesus will be our teacher too as we read Moses and the Prophets. All of what had been written in former times was fulfilled in the New Testament. Many of our neighbors think it's impossible. But we know it was all predicted. In time God fulfilled it. Especially, we want to see how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 53. Remember that Isaiah lived 700 years before Jesus was born. Yet nowhere do we have such a clear statement about the Suffering Servant who would make atonement for sins. Now that chapter does not end with doom. Verse 10 tells us that, "He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days." Isaiah predicted that Jesus would completely succeed in His mission. The cross was part of that success -- yes, not failure, success. Jesus made atonement for the sins of the world and lived to enjoy it. His kingdom was not cursed. It came about the way it had to, as it had been ordained. That is what St. Paul means in I Corinthians 15 when he says that Jesus died and rose again, "according to the Scriptures."
At supper time Jesus broke the bread. The two men recognized Him. Then they realized why He had spent the day giving them such a detailed Bible class. God had revealed His entire plan. What had been an unhappy day became the greatest day of their lives, a day that changed them forever.
It's a great day for us, too. The Suffering Servant has taken away our sins. He has made us to be counted righteous. As the great teacher of our synod, C. F. W. Walther wrote in his Easter hymn: O where is thy sting, death, we fear thee no more; Christ rose and now open is fair Eden's door; for all our transgressions His blood doth atone. Redeemed and forgiven we now are His own.
You and I are the offspring Isaiah said Jesus would live to see. We are part of that greatly extended family, including all who are born again of water and the Spirit, all who died and rose again in the washing of regeneration that cleanses us from sin. Yes, God who raises the dead did not leave His Son in the pit, nor does he abandon us. He quickened His Son to complete His victory, and he quickens us to follow, trust, and love Him who redeemed us all. May all who hear this know Him in the breaking of bread, and abide with Him. AMEN.