(For an explanation of “Ordinary Time,” please see “Introducing Ordinary Time” under the tab: “Ordinary Time, Year One: The Gospels.”)
Preaching the Resurrection, Continued
Peter continues preaching. He moves from the event of our Lord’s life, death, and resurrection on earth, and in the here and now of the eyes and ears of his listeners, and moves to the Old Testament Scriptures which the resurrection fulfills. You see, these were Jews – people of the Book. Everything they knew about God, His will, His ways, and the coming of the Messiah, was written in the Law and the Prophets, that which we call the Old Testament, or what some call the Hebrew Bible. Anyway, if anyone was going to proclaim that someone was the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one of God sent by Him to redeem His people, well then there were qualifications that man had to meet to indeed be the Christ.
Now what is intriguing about Peter’s sermon is that, to my knowledge, no one had ever claimed rising from the dead to be one of those qualifications. But Peter makes bold to show the people from their own Book that such a qualification was indeed the case. He quotes Psalm 16:8-11 as David’s prophesying such an event: “My heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your holy one see corruption.” Peter then goes on to explain that David, the one who wrote these Spirit-breathed verses, was obviously not speaking about himself as his tomb was yet among them. Thus, the prophet (referring to David) was clearly speaking of someone else of David’s lineage who would sit one day on David’s throne as God had promised him.
And so Peter ties this passage from Psalm 16 to Jesus of Nazareth, whose flesh did not see decay, whose soul was not abandoned to Hades, that is, the realm of the dead. Peter even declares that this was the very thing that David foresaw. And Peter and these other disciples were testifying of this event, his resurrection from the dead, his risen body, which they had the privilege of witnessing over a span of forty days.
As I said, no one interpreted Psalm 16 this way prior to Peter, just as no one understood Isaiah 53 as referring to a Messiah who would be crucified prior to the preaching of the gospel. Which is to say this: We interpret the Old Testament in the light of the New. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ in the pages of the New Testament which sheds light on the Old. And he was and is the Spirit who revealed this understanding to Peter, the Spirit just then poured out upon the apostles, the foundation of the Church. And it all hinges on the resurrection of our Lord – the centerpiece of the gospel.