Chapter 15 The Lord's Sufferings Predicted

All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me (Luke 24:44).

Since the sacrifice of God’s beloved Son was settled in the councils of the Godhead before the world began, the Old Testament is full of predictions of it. In the above words, the risen Lord is simply confirming His own teaching during His earthly ministry. Nothing which the Lord ever said had to be corrected or modified or changed. But He did have to open the minds of His disciples to understand Old Testament prediction (Luke 24:45).

The sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus should not have taken the disciples by surprise since they were somewhat familiar with Old Testament Scriptures. Indeed, they should have expected His passion. The pages of the Old Testament sparkle with the jewels of predicted redemption. They stand as a rich tree laden with the promises of God regarding it. We can stand there as on a God-given height of revelation, and from it view all that our Lord was to suffer.

The Lord Jesus is the theme of all Scripture. He is the light and luster of every page. To read the Old Testament aright is a sunlight walk with Him. To read it aright surely opens redemption’s plan. But the Jews did not read the Old Testament rightly. They read of His coming kingdom and glory, and understood that! They understood, for instance, Daniel 7:14: “And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

They expected that! But they were blind to the Lord’s humiliation, as in Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” They could not see that!

After His resurrection the Lord stressed this point: “All things must be fulfilled.” There was a Saviour to be given; thus a Saviour to be born; a Saviour who would make adequate sacrifice for sins, the only sacrifice that God would ever accept and call men to bring; a sacrifice that God would never refuse. Thus the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus are never spoken of in Scripture as a tragic mistake or an unforeseen accident. It was all God’s own wise plan to rescue man from Satan’s power, and it is all so clearly spelled out in Old Testament Scriptures.

True, there was man’s side to the cross. Psalm 22 tells us that He would be compassed about with “bulls”—the Jewish rulers; “dogs”—the Gentile forces of Rome; “lions”—the ferocious hosts of hell. There, too, is depicted man’s ribald mockery, derisive laughter, universal scorn. But behind all this there is “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). The crucifying of Christ expresses all the inherent hatred in man’s heart against God. But the purposeful laying down of His life was the manifestation of God’s utter and complete love for fallen man. There was a divine necessity for the cross; God had no other way of dealing with human sin. It was clear from the beginning.

Old Testament Predictions Spoken by Our Lord

When at Caesarea, our Lord said that “He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed” (Matthew 16:21). Then, in Mark 9:12, He said, “It is written of the Son of man, that He must suffer many things, and be set at nought.” Again, in Luke 18:31, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.”

Also, when Peter tried to stand in the way for our Lord’s defense in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked him with the words: “Put up … thy sword into his place… . How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:52, 54) In His walk to Emmaus with the two journeying there in postresurrection days, the Lord Jesus said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25-26)

Thus the Saviour’s sacrifice was written in letters of gold in the Old Testament. God’s redemption plan shines forth telling the story that God’s beloved Son would come and bear the sinner’s sins. All such Scriptures spring from the eternal Spirit of God, and display the sacrifice of God the Son in skillfully constructed symbols and forms.

Old Testament Predictions by the Apostles

Look at Peter’s declaration in Acts 3:18, “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled.” When Paul is chosen and appointed, there is this remarkable statement by him in Acts 13:27, “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him.”

Do we fully understand what that means? It means that the Old Testament Scriptures were read in Jewish synagogues every sabbath through centuries of time. The prophets cried of a death which would save from death, of a stream of blood which would cleanse away all sin, of a Messiah who would shelter them, hide them, and redeem them. But they did not get the message! When He came to earth, their vile corruptions raised their heads. Unbelief dragged the Jews down to earth’s mire. So they “killed the Prince of life” and, in doing so, fulfilled what the prophets said they would do: pierce His hands and feet, and make Him a curse by hanging Him on a tree. It was all written—even the minutest detail of His sufferings and death—in the pages and predictions of the Old Testament.

Now I have found the ground wherein
Sure my soul’s anchor may remain;
The wounds of Jesus for my sin,
Before the world’s foundation slain;
Whose mercy shall unshaken stay,
When Heaven and earth are fled away.

O Love, Thou bottomless abyss,
My sins are swallow’d up in Thee;
Cover’d is my unrighteousness,
Nor spot of guilt remains on me;
While Jesus’ blood, through earth and skies,
Mercy, free, boundless mercy, cries.

Charles Wesley