I was re-watching the first episode of the new NBC series ‘A.D.’, and noticed something I missed the first time through. Caiaphas refers to a prophecy that the Messiah would rise from the dead on the third day. He mentions this prophecy in requesting that Pilate place a guard at the tomb. His reasoning is that some of Jesus’ followers might steal the body and claim resurrection as fulfillment of that prophecy.
My focus recently in my spiritual studies has been to try to understand things from the perspective of first century Jews. I have come to realize how much error there is in many Christian churches because we don’t understand how the people Jesus was addressing, those first century Jews, would have understood and taken those things He was preaching. I believe this is a big part of why there are so many very different Christian denominations. We all interpret what we see through our own lens, rather than viewing it from the lens that Jesus and His contemporaries were seeing it through.
But this one line in this show made me think. I knew Jesus himself had predicted that he would suffer, die, and rise again on the third day. And I was aware of the old testament prophecies of the ‘suffering servant’ Messiah. But I had never heard anything about Hebrew prophecies prior to Jesus which stated that the Messiah would rise from the dead after 3 days. In fact, I’ve heard theories expounded to the effect that that was only something cooked up by Jesus’ followers to explain away his crucifixion. But if first century Jews already had reason to think that the Messiah would be killed, and then rise from the dead after 3 days. . . well that changes everything.
And so I did an online search – simply using the words, “Messiah Rises”. I was stunned to find this:
Israeli scholar says 1st century Jews awaited Messiah who would die & rise again. Argues “third day resurrection” an idea that pre-dates Jesus.
Thank You, Father.