How do we know that Jesus was someone and something different than the numerous religious leaders or founders of religions that have appeared on the stage of world history over the centuries? Last week, we saw one way that he is different: unlike Buddha, Mohammed, or Zarathustra, Jesus rose from the grave after his death, appearing and talking to his followers at length. In this week’s liturgy, we examine another remarkable piece of evidence for the uniqueness of Jesus: the fact that his suffering and resurrection were strikingly foreshadowed by the sacred writings of the prophets of Israel, hundreds of years before his earthly sojourn.
The Nicene Creed stresses: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The inclusion of this line the most widely-used and recognized statement of the Christian faith should cause us to realize: the fact that Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection fulfilled the oracles of the prophets is central to the Gospel message. Moreover, in the early Church, it was of considerable apologetic and evangelistic power, because no other religious or political leader could claim to have fulfilled ancient prophecies in the way that Jesus had.
1. Our First Reading is Acts 2:14, 22-33: