By David R. Ferguson
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 the Apostle Paul writes, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” It may come as a surprise to some of you, but if you would try to find the passage in the Old Testament that says specifically, “The Messiah will be raised from the dead on the third day,” guess what? You’re not going to find it. But it’s positively true, nonetheless, that according to Scripture, the Law of Moses does make this prophecy, just as Paul says. But to find it requires study, which is exactly what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 [ESV], “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Remember how John cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” in John 1:36 when he saw Jesus walking one day? Paul showed how Jesus fulfilled the Passover in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 [ESV] when he wrote, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Jesus not only was our Passover, but He was also the Firstfruits! And Paul ties the firstfruits specifically to the resurrection: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20 [ESV]). In verse 23 [ESV] of that chapter, Paul writes, “But each in his own order: Christ the Firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ.” No wonder, then, that Paul wrote so confidently about the resurrection occurring on the third day according to the Scriptures! No wonder that Jesus stated this so emphatically time after time! Christ rose from the dead as the Firstfruits of those that slept. He was the antitype of the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day that the wave sheaf was to be presented before the Lord, which was the third day following Passover (Leviticus 23:5-11)!
It is my continued hope and prayer that the Lord will bless you and your family!
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lakelandchurchofchrist/ or firstname.lastname@example.org