By Sam E. Stone
Two passages form the basis of today’s study. The first is from Psalm 110, one of the most quoted psalms in the New Testament. It points readers to the coming Messiah. The other text is part of Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, where the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Christ’s resurrection is clearly shown.
David wrote Psalm 110. When his prophetic message was given, Israel was a relatively small and insignificant nation. God assured his people that he would send a great king who would be their ruler one day (2 Samuel 7:4-16). Jesus made certain the interpretation of this psalm in Matthew 22:41-45. There he indicated that he himself is the second of the two Lords mentioned in this psalm. David spoke of Israel’s king, and it later became clear that Jesus is that king.
H. C. Leupold wrote, “When it is claimed in verse 2 that the Lord will extend this scepter ‘from Zion,’ this merely states the fact that Christ’s kingdom did take its beginning from among the Jews and in the congregation established at Jerusalem for ‘salvation is of the Jews,’ John 4:22.’ The historical starting point of the kingdom of the Christ is here correctly designated.”
James E. Smith added, “With irresistible logic Jesus argued that the word ‘Lord’ implied one superior to David. Of his successors only Messiah would be his superior.”
Jesus would serve as priest as well as king. He is not part of the Aaronic priesthood, however, but instead is after the order of Melchizedek, performing a service that cannot be replaced (see Hebrews 7:1-17). As Leslie S. M’Caw put it, “It is indissoluble and cannot be altered (Hebrews 7:16), and it is inviolable and cannot be replaced as was Aaron’s (Hebrews 7:24). In other words, it is forever.”
Acts 2:22-27, 29-32
In Acts 2 Luke recounted what took place on the Day of Pentecost that followed the resurrection of Jesus. The apostles were all baptized by the Holy Spirit and began to speak in various languages. Peter explained to the crowd that this was what had been foretold centuries earlier by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16-21).
J. W. McGarvey wrote, “The hearers . . . now see that the whole of this amazing phenomenon is subservient to the name of that Nazarene whom they had despised and crucified . . . Never did mortal lips announce in so brief a space so many facts so terrific to the hearers . . . . It is the first public announcement to the world of a risen and glorified Redeemer.”
As he preached, Peter summarized the life and ministry of Jesus. He also reminded his hearers of their responsibility in causing his death on the cross. “But God raised him from the dead” was his confident assertion. Then Peter began quoting from Psalm 16:8-11. This is another messianic psalm in which David declared his complete confidence in God’s protection.
The makeup of the crowd that day must certainly have included many who had been in the city of Jerusalem just days before for the Passover feast. That was the time when Jesus had been accused, mistreated, and finally killed. They had to be reminded of their role in his death, even as they now learned of his bodily resurrection from the grave.
“Great as the miracles of Jesus were, they would have accomplished nothing had He not risen,” suggested L. Edsil Dale. “His Deity was declared in his resurrection. . . .
Every other miracle was a preparation for this final victory over the grave.” Peter continued quoting Psalm 16 (see also Acts 13:35), as he convinced his audience of Christ’s resurrection.
The Old Testament’s messianic prophecies could not have been spoken about King David. “His tomb is here to this day,” Peter reminded them. Instead David understood that God “would place one of his descendants on his throne.” Although it is true that Jesus had died, what God then did makes all the difference: “He was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.”
God’s plan had been fulfilled. He intended for the Messiah to be raised from the dead. Peter concluded, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.” Even today every Christian should be able to testify to the resurrection of Jesus with the same confidence, joy, and trust of the apostles.
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.