Jesus fulfills Old Testament Prophecy
An exploration of how Christians believe Jesus has fulfilled many prophesies of the old testament. Followed by a look at some of those prophesies.
God put the idea of Jesus into the minds of his followers long before Jesus was born
There are plenty of prophesies in the Old Testament about the Messiah and Christians believe that they have been fulfilled in Jesus. There are differences of opinion just how many prophecies there are but estimates range from about 48 up to 365+.
But, some argue, perhaps this is something where it is possible for lots of people to seem to fulfil those prophecies?
This is just the problem faced by Lee Strobel, a ruthless reporter from the USA and one time skeptic. He read a book by a Professor Stoner.
Peter Stoner, professor emeritus of science at Westmont College worked with 600 students to calculate the possibility of just eight of the Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in any one person who had lived up to the present time. The probability was one in ten to the seventeenth power (a figure with 17 zeroes behind it!).
Lee Strobel did some calculations for himself as he tried to understand what this meant in real life.
"I imagined the entire world being covered with white tile that was one-and-a-half inches square -- every bit of dry land on the planet -- with the bottom of just one tile painted red.
Then I pictured a person being allowed to wander for a lifetime around all seven continents. He would be permitted to bend down only one time and pick up a piece of tile. What are the odds it would be the one tile whose reverse side was painted red? The odds would be the same as just eight of the Old Testament prophecies coming true in any one person throughout history!"
But Professor Stoner also worked the numbers for 48 prophecies which gives one chance in ten to the 157th power (a number with 157 zeroes behind it).
Lee Strobel also thought about this one:
"I did some research and learned that atoms are so small that it takes a million of them lined up to equal the width of a human hair. I also interviewed scientists about their estimate of the number of atoms in the entire known universe.
And while that is an incredibly large number, I concluded that the odds of forty-eight Old Testament prophecies' coming true in any one individual are the same as a person randomly finding a single predetermined atom among all the atoms in a trillion trillion trillion trillion billion universes the size of our universe!"
This is taken from Lee Strobel's book, Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary.
Here are a few of the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament of the Bible and how those prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. I've only included 16 here.
1. (Micah 5:2) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
The one true messiah was to be born in a small and insignificant town called Bethlehem. The name Ephrathah is an ancient name for Bethlehem. The one to be born there will have his origins 'from of old, from everlasting' (ancient times). The phrase 'ancient times' or 'everlasting' is used in the Bible to denote the beginnings of history. So from a time in the distant past the Messiah will come. The Gospel writers of the Bible's New Testament tell us that it was in the town of Bethlehem that Jesus was born. The Christian claim that Jesus is the second person of the trinity and therefore was present and involved in the act of Creation ties in with the 'ancient times' spoken of.
(Luke 2:4-7) "So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
2. (Isaiah 7:14) "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
Matthew and Luke both claim in their gospels that the birth of Jesus was miraculous. They testify to Jesus having been born of a Virgin (not all Christians agree on the virgin birth but it is part of the Christian creeds).
(Luke 1:34-35) ' “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'
3. (Zechariah 9:9) "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
The Messiah was to enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey at the beginning of Holy Week (Palm Sunday).
(Luke 19:35-38) 'They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”'
4. (Isaiah 53:3) 'He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. '
The Messiah would be rejected by his own people. Jesus was betrayed and sentenced to death by the religious leaders of his day but this betrayal would be made by God into something good.
(Luke 23:20-23) 'Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. '
5. (Psalms 41:9) 'Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.'
A close friend of the Messiah would betray him to his enemies. It was Judas one of the disciples who would betray Jesus after sharing bread with him at the last supper.
(Matthew 26:21-25) 'And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”'
6. (Isaiah 53:8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
The Messiah would be taken away by oppression and judgment. It was in a mock and unjust trial that Jesus was sentenced to death by the religious leaders.
(Matthew 26:59-61) 'The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’'
7. (Isaiah 53:7) 'He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.'
The Messiah would remain silent before his accusers.
(Matthew 27:12-14) 'When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.'
8. (Isaiah 50:6) 'I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. '
The Messiah would be struck and spat at.
(Matthew 26:67-68) 'Then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?”'
(Matthew 27:27-30) 'Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers round him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spat on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.'
9. (Psalms 22:7-8) 'All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." '
The Messiah would be mocked by his enemies.
(Matthew 27:39-44) 'Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.'
10. (Psalms 22:14-17) 'I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.'
The Messiah would die in a terrible way his hands and his feet pierced. Jesus was nailed to a cross. Remember this Psalm was written hundreds of years before Jesus appeared.
(Luke 23:32-33) 'Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.'
11. (Isaiah 53:12) 'Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.'
The Messiah would suffer with criminals and would pray for his enemies.
(Luke 23:32-34) 'Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.'
12. (Psalms 69:21) They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
The Messiah would be offered vinegar and gall.
(John 19:28-30) 'Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.'
13. (Psalms 22:18) 'They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.'
(Matthew 27:35-36) 'When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.'
14. (Isaiah 53:5-12) . 'But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. '
The Messiah would suffer and die so that our sins could be forgiven.
(John 1:29) 'The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'
15. (Psalms 16:10) 'because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.'
The Messiah was to be raised again from the dead.
(Matthew 28:1-6) 'After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.'
16. (Psalms 110:1) The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”.
The Messiah would sit at the right hand of God and have authority over all.
(Mark 16:19) 'After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.'
This is just a simple and short selection from the prophecies about the Messiah. It is staggering to see how so many times the things that were said many hundreds of years before the time of Jesus happened to him. We discover also that the Disciples did not understand how Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies until they looked back at Jesus' life and realised what had happened.