Summary: A study of the prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus, particularly those relating to His death. Part of a series of lessons by several speakers on the theme "Jesus Is..."
Before Jesus came to this earth, there were people who were expecting Him. People that had read the Old Testament prophecies and knew that God would send someone to save His people. In fact, some Jewish teachers taught there would be two Messiahs or Chosen Ones. One would give his life as a sacrifice for his people. The other would rule over His people as King.
When Jesus came, some people recognized Him because of the prophecies they had read. After His death, when His gospel was preached around the world, others came to believe because of these very prophecies.
For example, let’s read the story of the evangelist Philip and his encounter with the man from Ethiopia that is recorded in Acts 8:30-35.
Acts 8:30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
Philip was able to take the prophecies of the Old Testament and preach the gospel to this Ethiopian.
Let’s look at some of the phrases in the gospels that refer to prophecy:
“It is written…”
“So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet…”
“God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets…”
The gospel writers used these and other words to alert their readers to some of the different prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus life. These prophecies come true were an essential sign to people in the first century.
As they are today.
Jesus fulfilled more than 300 Old Testament prophecies! What are the odds of a man even fulfilling just a few prophecies? Very slim indeed. What are the odds of fulfilling more than 300 prophecies? Astronomical.
To understand better who Jesus is, let’s take a look at some of the prophecies that were fulfilled when He came to earth.
1. Born in the time of the Roman empire
In the book of Daniel, chapter 2, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which he saw a giant statue that was smashed by a “rock that was cut out but not by human hands.” God helped Daniel interpret this dream, showing that after the Babylonians would come three kingdoms. History shows that these kingdoms were the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. Then Daniel interpreted the part of the dream about the rock:
Dan. 2:44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands — a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.”
Daniel told of four kingdoms: the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. The eternal kingdom of God would be established in the time of the fourth kingdom, in the time of the Romans.
Jesus, in the time of the Romans, came to this earth and established his kingdom.
2. Born of a virgin
Isaiah spoke of a child that would be born to a virgin. Jesus fulfilled this when he was born to Mary while she was still a virgin.
3. Born in Bethlehem
Mic. 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 Jews who were waiting, who studied the Scriptures and searched for signs of the coming of the Messiah, knew that this passage taught that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Some have said that Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy was intentional, that he merely set out to do the things that were supposed to be done. Can a man decide where to be born? Did Jesus just do the things that the Messiah was supposed to? Or did the prophets truly foretell his coming? I think the answer is obvious.