Born-again Christians identify themselves with Jesus in his crucifixion, burial and resurrection. We stand on this, by reference to particular two scriptures (among others). The first scripture is First Corinthians 15:1-4 which says:
“Brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand; by which you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.”
And the second, also written by Paul, is Galatians 2:20 which says:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
This first scripture, is from a letter written by Paul to the Church in Corinth in or around, the year AD56. At that time, the New Testament did not exist and the phrase which Paul uses at the end of the extract “according to the Scriptures” refers to what the Christians call, the Old Testament; the Jewish Bible Canon, or The Tanakh. Paul, described as “one of the greatest teachers in all the annals of Judaism” was Jewish, “of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5) and was very familiar with the texts of the Tanakh of the Old Testament.
What does ”according to the Scriptures” mean, and where does it say in the Old Testament, that Jesus died for our sins?
First of all, Jesus himself said in His own words, in Matthew 12:40 “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This is a reference by Jesus back to an Old Testament prophet Jonah, and is in keeping with the Hebrew way of teaching, through word pictures. Jesus here is referring to Jonah 1:17 “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
However, there is only one place in the Old Testament where the three days of death, grave and resurrection are specifically mentioned. This in Book of Hosea, as the Prophet himself says in Hosea 6:1-2
” Come, let us return to the LORD; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him.”
In context, we can see that what has been struck down, what has been killed, will, after two days, or on the third day, be brought back to life. This is just what happened to Jesus. This is the portion of Scripture to which Paul was referring, in First Corinthians 15:4.
But we need to look more clearly at Hosea 6:1-2 for there is more there than we may notice at first reading. While the Hosea 6:1-2 scripture is clearly all about Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection after three days, God does not say “He will raise Him up” but “He will raise us up.”
It is quite clear here that we are identified with Jesus in His crucifixion, His death and burial and His resurrection. It is exactly as Paul says in Galatians 2:20 which says: “I have been crucified with Christ.” But not only have we been crucified with Chris, we have died with Him, been in the tomb with Him and been resurrected, with Him!
Then Hosea goes on to say “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3). Again we find a Hebraic word picture which we need to understand. “His going out is as sure as the dawn” is a prophetic reference to the resurrection of Christ which aligns with John 8:18, where Jesus says “I am the Light of the world.” Jesus is ‘the dawn,’ Jesus is ‘the light’ and His resurrection was the dawn of a new age, when authority over the earth was won back by Jesus from Satan.
Next Hosea says: ”he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Again in the prophetic, rain, especially spring rains, are used many times throughout the bible to refer to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. And again, this prophetic word from Hosea aligns with the New Testament, for the Holy Spirit comes only after Jesus is resurrected. The sequences, the steps, are correctly aligned with the New Testament historic reality.
If we have received Christ, cast off our old man and put on our new man, then we can be assured that as Romans 6:6 says “our old man is crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.” All born-again Christians need to remember that last phrase: “from now on we should not serve sin.” We need to live our lives accordingly, demonstrating our new man to a fallen world, that we may be living testimonies for Christ and His Kingdom.