“ And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar
35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.” (Luke 18:31-43)
And the third day he rose again according to the scriptures. That is how we say it in the Nicene Creed, What Jesus says here : we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” Jesus explains to the disciples what this means. Everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. He will be handed over, he will be beat, spit upon and crucified, but on the third day he will rise again from the dead in accordance with scripture, in accordance with what has been written about the son of man in the prophets.
The point of the Nicene Creed saying that on the third day he rose again according to the scriptures, is not that the New Testament records Jesus rising again on the third day, but that in rising on the third day, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament scriptures. In fact, “according to,” might have at one time been a valid translation of the Nicene creed from the Greek and Latin in which it was originally recorded at the councils. The English language changes from time to time. I suspect most people today read this and think much the same way we would say today, according to the Associated Press, “Panetta is fighting defense spending cuts.” That is if you want to read the story, you can find it in any of the papers that syndicate the associated press. So on the third day he rose again according to the scriptures, means if you want to read the story go read it in the scriptures, and probably even more so we think of the New Testament gospel recordings. But that isn’t the point. The point of the Nicene Creed, is that Jesus rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, thus fulfilling them, thus proving that he is the Christ, the anointed one, the one promised from of old who would be our savior.
See the story of Christ does not happen in a vacuum. The story of Jesus Christ happens in the context of the Old Testament. His life, his righteous life that lived the law in every way that we could never fathom, also fulfilled the law and the prophets. The whole life of Christ is a fulfillment of the Old Testament, a reliving of the whole story, in such a way that the story of the Old Testament finds its full meaning and purpose in Christ, and apart from Christ loses its significance.
People don’t understand this. There are actually wrong ways to read the Bible, and there is one right way. Jesus tells the Pharisees that they read it wrong, because they do not realize that it pertains to him. John 5:39 Today, people quote it without understanding any of the significance this statement, and therefore render it meaningless. Christians today, read the scriptures in the same way the Pharisees did. And then try to use them politically the same way the Pharisees did, and become frustrated when others dismiss them in the same manner of the Sadducees and Romans, all three of whom conspired together to kill our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In short they use it as a book of laws, and not only the Old Testament but so they treat the New Testament. For instance, hardly anyone realizes that the Old Testament is so called because it records the Testament God made with Abraham, the Testament of Circumcision which was then fulfilled with Christ’s Circumcision. Or the New Testament is not actually a body of writing but the Testament Jesus Christ left with his disciples the night that he was betrayed, the testament offering the forgiveness of sins in the Body and Blood of Christ which he gives in the bread and the wine. Instead they treat it as if it was a book of laws promising prosperity for any nation that aspires to fulfill it. People enter into arguments about public policy, quoting it as if anyone who hears it should bow to it regardless of whether they believe Jesus Christ died and rose again for their justification, their salvation or not. The Bible has never been about setting public policy, this wasn’t its primary concern even for Israel! Jesus Christ was its primary concern, and this concern is fulfilled in the life death and resurrection of Jesus, who himself was born of the virgin, being the woman’s seed of Genesis 3:15, who himself was circumcised, who himself was dedicated in the temple and therefore set aside as a sacrifice, who himself fled to Egypt, who himself returned to the promised land, who himself was beaten and spit upon that by his stripes we might be healed as Isaiah says, who himself died the death God promised Adam, and took the place of Isaac whom Abraham had promised to sacrifice, and who prophetically told Isaac God would provide the lamb for sacrifice, and finally rose again from the dead as even Jonah was spit out upon the shore after three days in the belly of a fish. For it is in Jesus that the prophecy of Hosea is fulfilled:
6:1 “Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
So it is that in him we have been raised on the third day, we who were buried into his death, in baptism that just as he was risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. Yes, raised up that we might live before him, stand in his presence, be reconciled to God. And so we do. Now we live before him, no longer in fear of judgment or death, but in freedom knowing our sins have been forgiven.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.