Jesus Fulfilled the Scriptures at His Resurrection

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4).

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article where I explained how Jesus fulfilled various OT Scriptures at His crucifixion. I invite you to read the article or take some time to look up these verses which connect to events on the cross: Ps. 22:18, Ps. 22:1, Ps. 22:7-8, Ps. 31:5, Ps. 69:21, Exo. 12:46 and Zech. 12:10. I also wrote a series of articles on how Jesus fulfilled prophecies of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. However, I have never explored how the OT portrays that the coming Messiah would conquer death.

Seeing how Jesus fulfilled OT prophecies concerning God’s chosen one are powerful faith-builders. They demonstrate God’s sovereignty when you discover how He carefully laid out the OT Scriptures to point to Jesus. I invite you to explore this topic with me as we take a deep dive into God’s word. 

Jesus predicts His own death and resurrection

Jesus knew that He would die and rise from the dead. He told His disciples this on many occasions. Here is a list of passages where Jesus mentions He would die and rise again: Matt. 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:18-19, 27:63; Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:33-34, 14:28; Luke 9:22, 18:31-33, 24:6-7; and John 2:19-22.

However, this is not what I mean when I say that Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures. In the Bible, the term “Scriptures” always refers to the Old Testament. When Jesus rose from the dead, this confirmed that He knew all that the Father had planned for Him. But that is not considered fulfillment of Scripture.

Jesus’ post-resurrection explanation of OT fulfillment

In Luke 24:26-27, we read an account of two unnamed disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus. Jesus walked with them for a while, but they did not recognize him. He chided them for their lack of understanding the Scriptures. He explained how He fulfilled prophecies, starting with Moses.

Perhaps he may have been referring to Gen. 3:15, where God declares that the serpent will bruise the heel of the Eve’s offspring, but that he will crush his head. This statement was a consequence of the Fall in the Garden of Eden after Adam’s sin is the first hint of the gospel. Even though Satan appears to have struck Jesus on Good Friday, His victory on Easter crushed Satan. Exodus 12:46 describes the Passover lamb who had no bones broken and whose blood protected the Israelites from God’s wrath. 

A little while later, in Luke 24:44-45, the eleven remining disciples are assembled together, and Jesus suddenly appears to them. He gives them words of comfort, emphasizing that “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Oh, how I wish I could have heard that discussion!

In the previous section, I shared two verses that pointed to Jesus’ crucifixion from Moses’ books of the Law, known as the Pentateuch. I had also mentioned how Jesus fulfills Scripture from the book of Isaiah, chapter 53. However, since much of what the prophet Isaiah writes concerns Jesus’s suffering on the cross (see Isa. 53:4-12), we have to look elsewhere for prophecies concerning Jesus’ resurrection.

The last of three major sections of the Hebrew Bible that Jesus listed in addition to the Law of Moses and the Prophets was the Psalms. This is the biggest book of what is known as the writings, which cover the Psalms, the wisdom books (such as Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes), and several others.

In the book of Psalms, in what we call a “Messianic” psalm, we find the only OT reference that seems to point to the resurrection. This Scripture that Jesus fulfills is confirmed in two places in the NT.

The early church highlights how Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures

In a sermon given on Pentecost, Peter quoted Ps. 16:8-11. (See Acts 2:24-28.) David declares, “you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful (or holy) one see decay.”

The Apostle Peter takes time to carefully explain his reasoning in Acts 2:30-31. He emphasized that David was a prophet who could see ahead. He remembered that God has promised that one of his descendants would be on the throne as king. David spoke here, perhaps not knowing what he was speaking of, that the Messiah would not see decay in the grave and that he would rise from the dead.

Tremper Longman III concurs. In his commentary on the Psalms, he indicates that Peter taught “that David himself died and was buried, so he must have had someone else in mind, namely Jesus Christ.” 

Paul also cited Ps. 16:10 in Acts 13:35. He basically uses the same logic that Peter used in his sermon, that David was not referring to himself. Longman writes, Paul “applied it to Christ, who was raised from the dead and thus was a fulfilment of the promise that ‘you will not let your holy one see decay’.” 

What are the implications?

After reading all of these OT Scriptures and Gospel verses, you might be wondering, “What do I need to do with all of this information?  Is there anything implied that I must do to apply these truths?

I do not believe that these passages were intended to lead us to change how we think, speak, or act.  These connections between the OT and NT are meant to make us amazed at God’s holy word, and amazed with the Word, Jesus Christ, who against all odds perfectly fulfills hundreds of OT passages written thousands of years before He was born. Without a doubt, we can trust and follow Him.

I encourage you commit yourself to take every opportunity to notice the countless connections between the Old and New Testaments and learn to enjoy being in God’s presence as you study His holy word.

About the author:


Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 41 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of the bookImmanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. Russ received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth minister. He served 20 years on active duty. Russ works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Since 2015, he has written 175 articles on faith and work topics. Nearly 90 of these have been published over 160 times on several Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, The Gospel Coalition, and Christian Grandfather Magazine. (See complete list of published articles on Linktree.)

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