And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: (Luke 24:46)
But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. (Acts 3:18)
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.(Acts 26:23)
Anyone that has read the New Testament knows that it says Jesus suffered and died a horrible death. The New Testament makes the claim in several places that Jesus told the disciples that the Hebrew Scriptures foretold that he (the Messiah) would suffer, die and rise from the dead on the third day. This is the complete passage found in Luke.
But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:36-48)
Here we see Jesus tell his disciples about two prophecies.
1. It benefited Christ to suffer.
2. Christ will rise from the dead the third day.
Aside from the strange way that he speaks about himself in the third person, what he says seems logical but is this actually correct? Does the Hebrew Bible contain these specific prophecies? What are we to make of this phrase, “ and thus it behoved Christ to suffer?” Isn’t it supposed to benefit the world that Christ suffered?
We have previously discussed Isaiah 53 and found it lacking any prophecies of Jesus’ suffering and death.
Because of this we are forced to look to other parts of the Hebrew Bible. Even if we did include Isaiah 53, which still isn’t a messianic prophecy, it still says absolutely nothing about being raised again in 3 days.
After looking in several Christian Bibles, I was surprised to see the only cross references to this passage are to other statements in Luke. There is no cross reference to any Hebrew Bible passage foretelling of any suffering or resurrection of any messiah. Could this be a dead end like the ‘Nazarene prophecy?”
There is one prophecy in the Hebrew Bible that does mention someone that will be raised on the third day. Let’s look at it and see who it is speaking of.
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3)
This has nothing to do with the messiah. It contains only plural pronouns and is speaking of a group of people. This is the only passage that remotely resembles anything that speaks of a resurrection on the third day. Could Jesus have been confused? And if so, why? Could Luke have not been able to read Hebrew well enough to understand that this passage was about a group and not a singular person? We may never know for sure.
What is going on here? What would cause someone to write down a prophecy reference that doesn’t exist? Luke indicates that he investigated all these things carefully. He was a gentile and probably had not been exposed to the Hebrew Bible or misread the Hebrew as I mentioned previously. Maybe he actually believed that there were prophecies that corresponded to the words of Jesus.
I ask you to verify what I am reporting to you. Read your Hebrew Bible to see if I am telling you the truth. Get the tools you need to search the Scriptures to verify what I am saying. There are many free tools available on the Internet to help you. 1 I challenge you.
This is an excerpt from my book, “Leaving Jesus.” It is available as an ebook ($2.99), an audiobook ($4.00) or a paperback ($7.49) at the link below.