On the Lord’s day, following the resurrection of Jesus, two of the Lord’s Disciples were walking from Jerusalem to their hometown of Emmaus. The name of one of them was Cleopas (Luke 24:18). Cleopas and his companion were despondent and disillusioned because of the death of Jesus. They had heard reports of an empty tomb and of Angels telling some of the women disciples that Jesus was “risen from the dead.” They were perplexed, however, not knowing what to believe. All they knew for sure was that Jesus had been crucified and died. Their dream of a Messiah who would reign upon the throne of his father David—the vision that had inspired them for three long years of Christ’s ministry—was over. While they were making their way homeward, Jesus apparently comes up from behind them as they walk, only they do not recognize him. “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” He asks them.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”
Rather then commiserating with them, this stranger chides them for their slowness to believe all that the prophets have spoken. “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” He asked them. Then, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:13-27).
Now that was a sermon I would’ve liked to have heard. It was our Lord’s own testimony concerning his resurrection. What Old Testament texts did he use? We cannot fully know the answer to that question, though we have strong indications of what some of the texts were, due to the way they were later used by the early disciples in their preaching. One text, I think we can be absolutely sure of, is Psalm 16:10: How do I know? Because it was used by both Peter and Paul in their preaching.“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.” (Psalm 16:9–10, NIV84).
During this year’s Advent season, we have been looking at Christ in the Psalms. Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5:39, NIV84). Since the Jewish Tanakh testifies about Jesus, it behooves us to look at the Old Testament Scriptures to see what they say about our Savior. What we discover is that all of the major events in the life of Jesus were prophesied in the Psalms.
- The first great event in the life of our Savior, is of course, his supernatural conception which is hinted at in the Psalm of the Incarnation—Psalm 40.
- The second great event in the life of our Savior was his temptation in the Judean wilderness. That event is recorded in the Psalm of the Temptation—Psalm 91.
- The third great event of the life of our Savior was his death at Calvary. For this we turn to the 22nd Psalm—The Psalm of Crucifixion.
- The last great event—actually a series of events—in our Savior’s ministry was his Burial, Resurrection and Exaltation. For this event we turn to the 16th Psalm—The Psalm of the Resurrection.
One this Christmas Day, I want us to look at a passage that defines for us as believers, The Reason for the Season.
I. THE PSALM OUTLINES THE PATHWAY OF FAITH OUR SAVIOR LIVED
- like all Messianic Psalms, these verses are most fully realized in the life of the Christ
- Jesus told His disciples: " ... “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work." (John 4:34, NASB95)
- that work is to establish the Kingdom of God by dying for a Kingdom People
- "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17, NASB95)
- "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." (1 Timothy 1:15, NASB95)
- I wish I had time this morning to comment on them
II. THE PSALM OUTLINES THE PATHWAY OF LIFE OUR SAVIOR OFFERS
- while I believe that vv. 1-7 of this Psalm are Messianic, they are also representative of King David’s life as well as many other great Saints of the Old Testament
- vv. 8-11 are definitely Messianic, and are clearly quoted as so by both the Apostles Peter and Paul in their preaching
- verses 9-11 make up the heart of the Apostle’s early gospel proclamation
- ILLUS. Dr. J. Vernon McGee, pastor and bible expositor best known for the “Through the Bible” radio program, says of this passage: “There are several liberal expositors who say that Psalm 16 has no reference to the resurrection of Christ. But Simon Peter said that Psalm 16 refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I am taking his word for it.”
- we see four truths about Jesus’ final days on Earth:
- Jesus’ reliance upon his father (16:8)
- Jesus’ rescue by his father (16:9)
- Jesus’ resurrection to his father (16:10)
- Jesus’ reign with his father (16:11)
A. THE LIFE OF CHRIST–HIS RELIANCE ON THE FATHER
- in verse 8 we have the life of Christ: “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
- that, my friend, was the pathway He followed down here, and it is the pathway I want to follow, and it’s the pathway I pray you will follow
- through the pen of King David we hear the voice of the Messiah speaking
- Jesus asserts without any equivocation that He has kept the LORD always before Him
- in the New Testament, we hear Jesus repeatedly say that his heart’s desire is to be in total obedience to the will of God the Father—to totally rely on His Father in Heaven
- ““My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34, NIV84)
- “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38, NIV84)
- “but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. ... .” (John 14:31, NIV84)
- what ever word is used, the implication is this: There will never be a time when the Anointed One looks away from the Lord because his faith and hope will remain unshakable
- even in Gethsemane, when He prayed, “Father, if it be your will, remove this cup from me ... “ His faith and hope remained unshakable
- even at Calvary, when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” His faith and hope remained unshakable because He also knew Psalm 22:24
- “For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” (Psalm 22:24, NIV84)
B. THE DEATH OF CHRIST—HIS RESCUE BY THE FATHER
- in verse 9 we have the death of Christ: “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.”
- He died upon the cross at a place called Calvary, knowing that God the Father would raise Him from the dead
- accordingly, His flesh rested in hope
- ILLUS. One of the great works of the Christian faith was written by John Owen in the late 17th century. He was a preacher, teacher, university professor, politician, and one of the greatest intellects of his day. He wrote many works, but his most famous is entitled “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.” I love the title! It reminds us that all those who die in Christ will not be hurt by the second death spoken of in the Scriptgures—which is eternity in hell.
- "Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6, ESV)
- we are living in an era where medical science is advancing by such leaps and bounds that the average physician is hard pressed to keep up with the technology
- today, it seems that much of the human body can either be replaced, repaired, regenerated, or transplanted
- most of our joints can now be replaced or rebuilt with steel and plastic
- laboratories can now take a few cells of skin from a burn patient, place them in a special nutrient solution and laterally grow, in a few short days, large patches of skin that can them be grafted back onto the patient
- I read an article just this week about the revolution in medicine taking place with adult stem cells: They are now actually working at growing new organs
- some of you here this morning see clearly through the corneas of others
- limbs can be reattached
- hearts, lungs, kidneys, and livers can all be transplanted
- yet, with all our advances, man is powerless to prevent that which fills his heart with dread
- we can repair the body
- we can prolong life
- some will try to cheat death
- ILLUS. Some of you have heard about Cryonics: This is the process of freezing and storing the body of a diseased, recently deceased person to prevent tissue decomposition so that at some future time the person might be thawed out and brought back to life upon development of new medical cures for whatever ails them. The Cryonics Society of New York, has taken as its motto, "Never say die!"
- “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14, NIV)
- according to this passage, our lives are like the morning fog that hangs low in our Osage valleys early in the morning
- it is here for but a short time
- when the sun rises high in the sky the mist quietly melts away and we hardly even remember its presence
- death does not discriminate
- it comes for the righteous and the wicked
- it comes for the good and the bad
- it comes for the spiritually clean and the spiritually unclean
- it comes for those who offer sacrifices to God and for those who do not
- it comes for those of advanced years and it sometimes comes for the young
- we are ultimately powerless to prevent our death
C. THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST—HIS RESURRECTION TO HIS FATHER
- in verse 10 we have the resurrection of Christ: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [that is, the grave]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”
- the reason verse 10 is such a clear prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection is the startling claim found in its second half
- the first part is strong and impressive but not startling
- it is a declaration based on faith that God will not abandon the Psalmist to the grave
- this is a rock-solid statement of faith, but it could have been spoken by any one of the Old Testament saints
- in fact, Job says something very similar
- "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!" (Job 19:25-27, ESV)
- it says, “nor will you let your holy one to see decay”
- ILLUS. When our bodies die they almost immediately begin to decay. As soon as the blood stops flowing through our veins, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the cells of our body, those cells begin the decaying process.
- God preserved our Lord’s body from corruption while he was lying in the tomb and then breathed life back into it on Easter morning
- this is why this psalm can not apply to David or to any other human being—even though the rest of this psalm can—and why it is a prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus
- “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption." (Acts 2:29-31, ESV)
- it is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Sheol, which was used in the OT for the grave, for the “netherworld,” and to describe the disembodied state
- Sheol did not so much indicate a geographical location as the condition of the dead—the separation of the soul from the body
- it was used to describe the condition of everyone who died, whether believer or unbeliever
- this is why the Apostle’s Creed is confusing to some Christians
- the 5th statement of the creed—referring to Jesus—reads: He descended into Hades. On the third day he rose again
- what our Christian forefathers were attempting to say is that Jesus really died, attested to by the fact that he was really buried, and laid in a tomb
D. THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST—REIGNING WITH HIS FATHER
- in verse 11 we have the ascension of Christ: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
- I won’t say much about his one tonight since we will look at Psalm 68—the Psalm of the Ascension next Sunday
III. LESSONS FROM PSALM 16
A. AS CHRIST DID, WE MUST FULLY PLACE OUR RELIANCE ON GOD
- “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” (Psalm 73:25–28, NIV84)
- I trust that this is the confession of your heart “In God I have everything I’ll ever need or want”
- ILLUS. Before becoming king, George VI, who was a committed follower of Christ, attended a Brethren assembly in London, enjoying weekly the fellowship of the saints there. After he became king he had to discontinue this practice but he remained a devout believer in the Lord Jesus. In the course of his duties George VI came to Canada and his official visit brought him to British Columbia. The Canadian officials thought that King George might like to meet a native born Indian chief. The one chosen for the honor was a well known and influential Indian known as Chief Whitefeather. Chief Whitefeather was asked to sing something for the kind and, needless to say, the officials assumed he would sing a native war song. But the Chief was a Christian who had something else in mind. One can picture the surprise of the officials when, upon their meeting, Chief Whitefeather began to sing: ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I’d rather be His than have riches untold, I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand- than to be the king of a vast domain Or be held in sin’s dread sway; I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.” The stunned officials waited to see what King George VI would do. The king went over, took Chief Whitefeather by the hand and said: “I’d rather have Jesus, too.”
- God was everything; everything he ever wanted, everything he ever needed
- this ought to be the confession of our hearts
B. THOSE WHOSE HEART DESIRE IS TO DO GOD’S WILL ARE TRULY OF CHRIST
- “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Matthew 12:50, NIV84)
- the Psalm teaches us that Jesus kept the LORD always before Him
- this must also be our heart’s desire
- in fact, it is evidence that we have had a true conversion experience!
C. WE DO NOT HAVE TO FEAR DEATH—OUR RESURRECTION IS ASSURED
- “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” (1 Corinthians 15:20–23, NIV84)
Conclusion. Christmas is not merely about a baby born in Bethlehem. It is about a Savior who has come into the world! He was born to ultimately become a sacrifice for the sin of sinners. Ancient Jewish texts tell us that most of the sheep that were raised in the vicinity of Bethlehem were destined to become sacrifices at the Jewish Temple just six miles away. No wonder that John the Baptist would proclaim Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!