The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (RSV)
I’ve always wondered if the prophets and writers of the O.T. knew that what they were writing was a prophecy for the near future or something way beyond. Several of the Psalms have statements in them that are astounding. To appreciate it fully, I imagined that I’m David as I’m writing this Psalm. As I write praises to God and thanksgiving, suddenly these next two verses come to my mind and I write them down. Ps 16:9-10 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. (NIV) Whoa! Where did that come from? (Of course, Holy One is not capitalized so that I can recognize that it is a reference to the coming Messiah.) I have to stop and ask God, “Are you saying that I won’t decay after I’m in the grave? What does that mean? Will you resurrect me?” Now did God answer me and tell me that I’m writing about the coming Messiah or do I just keep on writing? Did I even comprehend that a Messiah was on the way or did that understanding come later? According to Peter, David did stop and start asking God a lot of questions. I certainly would.
Perhaps, as David I would think back to Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (NIV) I would sit back and understand that my Redeemer will have to suffer death but will be raised from the dead before He rots in the grave. I, however, will die and my body will decompose but somehow, I too, will be resurrected with a new body that will be able to see my Savior. Yes, my heart also yearns within me to see that day. It is all part of the hope that Peter has just mentioned.
Another great verse is Ps 110:1 The Lord says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (NIV) David must have certainly wondered about the beginning of this verse. Jesus used this verse to clarify unequivocally that the Messiah had to be a descendant of David and also God because David called Him “Lord.” My salvation is in Jesus because He is the only one who can satisfy the requirements of divinity as well as an earthly lineage of David.
My salvation is in one who can pay for my sins. Ps 49:7-9 No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him — the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough — that he should live on forever and not see decay. (NIV) Peter already talked about the security of our inheritance. When a son of Korah penned this Psalm, he was declaring that salvation can’t come from a mere man. Did he wonder how we could ever have eternal life if there was no way anyone could pay for it? Did he understand that Jesus, being God in the flesh, would be the only ransom, the only payment that would be able to give him eternal life? I’ll bet he looked at that verse and shook his head and kept on writing because he knew that someone in the future would see it and understand.
When Peter talks about the predictions of the suffering Christ, two passages come to mind. The first is Isaiah 53 Isaiah details the Jesus suffering and the reason for His suffering. My sins caused Him to be pierced. He took the punishment of my sins. He was assigned a grave with the wicked (the two others crucified at the same time) yet buried in a rich man’s tomb. All this even though He did nothing wrong. It was God’s will to do this to Him. He bore all our sins, not just mine. I have a hard time imagining what was going through Isaiah’s mind as he wrote this. Perhaps the Holy Spirit let him know that a future generation would need to know this to explain Jesus’ purpose during His first visit to the earth.
The second passage is Psalm 22. The details of the crucifixion were recorded here a thousand years before that horrible death was invented. His hands and feet were pierced. He can count His bones after the flogging. Even the detail that they cast lots for His clothing was written down. How could David not wonder about what he was writing? It certainly didn’t happen to him. Yet, the Holy Spirit must have let him know that this was a future event that had something to do with salvation, otherwise he would have crumpled it up and started over again.
This salvation that Jesus has purchased for me and everyone else is just too astounding to comprehend. Hundreds of years before Jesus, people were writing about it. It is so astounding that angels even wonder about it.