27 “For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.” (Acts 13:27–31)
The Old Testament prophecies concerning the Servant of Yahweh, otherwise known as the Messiah, are fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is the main point of the Apostle Paul’s message to the synagogue attendees in Pisidia Antioch.
The people and the rulers in Jerusalem did not recognize nor understand the oracles from their own prophets. This was true even though the Old Testament prophets were/are read every Sabbath Day in the synagogues. Why did the Jewish people misunderstand who Jesus was and what He came to accomplish on the cross? Why do they misunderstand who Jesus was even to this day?
To begin with, most Jews then, and now, were expecting a political/militaristic Messiah as their deliverer. Jesus, however, came from a poor family and was an itinerant preacher or rabbi.
Additionally, they could not understand how one who died on a cross, could be the Messiah because He was obviously cursed by God. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 says, 22 “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.”
What the Jews obviously forgot was the biblical doctrine of substitutionary atonement. This was an atonement not only pictured by the Passover (Exodus 12) but also by the daily sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7).
Galatians 3:10-14 says, “10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Concerning Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement, I Peter 1:23-24 says, “23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
How do we know that God the Father found Jesus’ substitutionary atonement acceptable? This is what we will examine when next we meet.
Soli deo Gloria!