Advent 4 Midweek Sermon, 2016
Luke 24; Hosea 6:1-3
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt
In Acts 17 and 18, we read the Paul and Apollos proved that the Christ was Jesus (cf. Acts 17:2-3; 18:28). To do so, it says that they used the Scriptures.
Of Paul, it says, “He reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3).
Of Apollos, it says, “He powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (Acts 18:28).
We need to remember that the only Scriptures they had are what we refer to as the Old Testament.
So, what Old Testament Scriptures prove Jesus to be the Christ? What can we point to?
You can find lists of prophecies that Jesus fulfilled.
You can read each chapter and see for yourself how it foreshadows or describes Jesus.
But, for me, it was, for a time, difficult to think of one verse that explicitly foretells, for example, the resurrection.
In the first lesson tonight, from Luke chapter twenty-four, Jesus says this: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).
Isaiah’s suffering servant is the go-to verses regarding the suffering of Christ. Isaiah chapter fifty-three verse five reads, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
And regarding the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, that’s the cycle Israel’s in constantly: first they enjoy God’s favor, then they ignore God unto terrible consequences, then they repent and enjoy the steadfast love of God. We read about this in the Psalms and the Prophets and everywhere.
But where does it say that the Christ will rise from the dead on the third day?
Jesus says “Thus it is written…” but where is it written?
I didn’t know this until a couple years ago, it came up in a pastors’ bible study. There’s one verse in all of the Old Testament that specifically prophecies the resurrection on the third day. Tonight, it was our second reading, from Hosea chapter six.
“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. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:1-3).
That’s it. That’s where it’s written that Jesus will be raised on the third day. The obvious problem, though, is that that verse is talking about Israel: “Let us return…he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up…he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up.”
Lots of other verses talk about the Resurrection.
This one is the only one that talks about the Resurrection on the third day.
Since it’s about Israel the people, how can it be about the Christ, Jesus?
The answer is this: Jesus is Israel reduced to one.
What I mean is this:
All of humanity, God’s creation, waited for the Christ and, because of sin, needed Him. Needed salvation.
From out of all humanity, God chose the Jews as His peculiar people to be peculiar publicly, so that all of humanity would know where the Christ was to be born.
Israel’s persistent unfaithfulness had the result that out of all the Jews, out of all Israel, only a remnant recognized the Christ, followed Him, and believed in Him. From John chapter one, we read, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11).
And so before Christ and after Christ there was a faithful remnant. After Christ, that faithful remnant grew into the Church. And God sent the apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching (cf. Matthew 28:28).
Looking at the big picture, then, this is what we see:
From Creation to Christ, everything went from big to small, funneling down until the time the Christ was born.
Humanity, to Israel, to the faithful remnant, to Christ.
From Christ to today, everything goes from small to big.
Christ, to the remnant, the disciples, to the Church, to all the world, all humanity.
Israel, then, refers to the Church. And the Church refers to Israel.
Jesus is the center of both. Jesus is what Israel looks like. Jesus is what the Church looks like. Jesus is what faithful Israel was waiting for. Jesus is the priceless treasure of the Church that we have all received.
Jesus is Israel reduced to one.
So when it’s prophesied that Israel will raised on the third day, it’s true, because Jesus was raised on the third day.
In this sense, what’s true of Jesus is true of you.
By faith, in Christ, you are nothing but pleasing to God.
By faith, in Christ, you are perfect and holy and righteous and innocent. You are God’s well behaved child, in whom He is most content.
By faith, in Christ, you will be raised from the dead and live with Christ forever.
And do you see how all of that is true of Israel before Christ?
By faith in the coming Christ, all Israel was pleasing to God.
By faith in the coming Christ, all Israel was perfect and holy and righteous and innocent.
By faith they were the children of Abraham, in whom God was most content.
By faith in the coming Christ, they will be raised from death as the Christ will be raised.
Israel and the Church are the same, because the object of their faith is the same: Jesus the Christ.
We are all children of the same promise: God reconciled the world in sending us the Christ who suffered, and died, and on the third day rose from the dead. Thus it is written.
And to the same effect, thus Paul has written:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:3-11).
In Christ, before Him or after Him, the promise of the resurrection is yours. Because Jesus is Israel reduced to one. The Church reduced to one. As He lives, so will all Israel. So will all the Church. So will all believers in Christ.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!