Summary: Jesus Christ is more than just the prediction of the Old Testament; Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT promise, promises God made to Abraham to send a Messiah into the world. This sermon explores Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the World.
JESUS: THE COMPLETE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE
Stephen H. Becker, M.Div.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
July 22, 2007
8th Sunday After Pentecost
Often when people think of the Old Testament, they think of it as a book about God’s creation of the world, about Adam and Eve, about Noah, Abraham, Joseph and Moses. Often it’s thought of as a Book that details God’s Laws for us, like the Ten Commandments. And all of this is, of course correct, but have you ever read or thought about the Old Testament as a book of Scripture about Jesus Christ? When you read the Old Testament in light of Jesus, in light of God’s promise to send a Messiah to save mankind from our sin, you can find Jesus all throughout the Old Testament. In fact, it amazes me how anyone, even today, can read the Old Testament and not find the promise of Jesus throughout it. Today in our reading from Acts, the Apostle Paul talks about just this; Paul preaches that Jesus is the complete fulfillment of the Promise of the Old Testament and that that promise is for YOU. Let’s open with prayer…
Listen to this passage of Scripture which describes the suffering of the One God sent to save us from our sins: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…He was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God…But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each one of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away…He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and caused him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering…After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge; my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities…because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Friends, what a wonderful description of Jesus’ life, mission, death and resurrection! How clearly we read how Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And what’s amazing about this passage of Scripture is that it was written about seven hundred years before Jesus’ earthly life and mission. What I just read to you is a prophecy of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection by the Prophet Isaiah, received by Isaiah through the power of God the Holy Spirit 700 years before Jesus was born! Yet, if I didn’t tell you that this was written 700 years before Christ, you might think that it was from any of the Gospels or perhaps from one of Paul’s letters. That is the miracle of the Scripture that God has given us: it teaches Jesus Christ from cover to cover. We call this the unifying theme of Scripture. In fact, whenever I read any passage of Scripture from either the Old or the New Testament, I always ask myself, how do I see the unifying theme of Scripture here? How does this passage—any passage—teach Jesus? Listen again to a couple of highlights here from Isaiah 53
• Verse 3: He was despised and rejected by men
• Verse 5: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. By his wounds we are healed.
• Verse 7: He was like led like a lamb to the slaughter.
• Verse 8: He was cut off from the land of the living
• Verse 9: He was assigned a grave.
• Verse 11: After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied
• Verse 12: He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah in a wonderful revelation saw the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. And he wrote about them. In fact, note that he even wrote in the past tense, meaning he was writing about events that he—Isaiah—saw prophetically.
So in our reading today from the New Testament book of Acts, the Apostle Paul explains in detail how Jesus is this perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament promise. And moreover, Paul teaches that Jesus, being this perfect fulfillment of prophecy, brings us that fulfillment as well. Having been a Pharisee, Paul knew very well of the hopeless condition of mankind. Paul knew what God told Adam in the Garden, that sin would bring us death, that sin would separate us from God irrevocably and permanently. And as a Pharisee, as an expert in God’s Law, Paul knew the Old Testament very well and so knew of God’s promise of a Messiah. Here in Acts 13, Paul is preaching to the Jews in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch that Jesus is this perfect fulfillment of the Messiah that all Jews knew was promised. Speaking of Jesus in verse 23, Paul says, “From this man’s descendants,” meaning the descendants of Jewish King David, “God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.” God promised Israel that He would send them a Savior. That’s a wonderful promise of salvation to Israel—God’s chosen people, but what about us who aren’t Jews, or aren’t descended from Abraham? In verse 26, Paul directs this Good News message at all who have faith. He says, “Brothers, children of Abraham AND you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.” Who are God-fearing Gentiles? They are any non-Jew who believes that Jesus Christ is the Savior. They are you and me. “It is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.”