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Why Follow Jesus?

Chapter 7: Prophecies About Jesus

God sees the end from the beginning, He sometimes reveals things which are to happen in the future, through prophecies. Some of the most amazing Bible prophecies are about Jesus; remember, for example, Isaiah 53, to which we have referred several times. These prophecies show that Jesus is truly the Messiah because He fulfilled them.

Long before Jesus was born, the Jewish people realised that there were many prophecies in the Scriptures about the Messiah. When Jesus arrived, He said to them, "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me." [1]

If you read the Gospel of Matthew, you will find at least twenty-one references to fulfilled prophecies! The whole of the New Testament clearly shows that it was Jesus who fulfilled these Old Testament prophecies. Let us examine just a few of them and their fulfilment.

Jesus to be born of a virgin

Hundreds of years before Christ, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah. "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."[2] We see the fulfilment of this prophecy when Mary (i.e. Mariam) was visited by an angel who told her she would bear a son. All this took place to fulfil what God had promised.[3]

Jesus to be born in Bethlehem

Through the prophet Micah, God foretold that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. [4] This prophecy was well-known even to King Herod and His advisors. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem in Judea. [5]

Jesus to perform miracles

Again, God said through the prophet Isaiah, "... your God will come ... Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy."[6] The Gospel according to Matthew confirms this prophecy in these words: "Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." [7]

Jesus to be crucified

The crucifixion of Jesus was not an accident or simply a ghastly mistake. It was Jesus himself who laid down His life. Why? Because God wanted to bring mankind to Himself. It was prophesied that Jesus, "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."[8] When Jesus was crucified, the Romans crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. [9]

Jesus' side to be pierced

"They will look on Me, the one they have pierced."[10] These words were fulfilled in Jesus when one of the soldiers pierced His side.[11]

Many more prophecies

Actually there are many more prophecies about Jesus than are listed here. It was prophesied that Jesus was to be betrayed by a friend and this is exactly what happened. [12] In addition it was prophesied that Judas would be paid thirty pieces of silver for this act of betrayal and that he would later throw the money down in God's house. The money was used to pay for a potter's field [13] and this too was predicted accurately. Judas was so sure he was doing right at the time but he was full of bitter regret when he saw the outcome of His actions. [14]

We can see from all of this that the Bible is not just a collection of books. The common themes of God's dealings with men and their response to Him shine through the whole Bible. This is particularly the case with Jesus; the prophecies we have considered are like signposts pointing the way to the coming Messiah. When Jesus came, He looked back to those same signposts and showed that they were true. [15] Like signposts, they can easily be misread. Jesus found that the Jews of His day had read the signs (prophecies) wrongly; they were expecting a victorious soldier or statesman rather than a humble preacher from the northern province of Galilee.

What do you think?

Some may say that the Old Testament was written after the New Testament in order to supply such accurate prophecies. This is just not possible. The Jews have guarded their scriptures with the utmost care since the 4th century B.C.. They would never have tolerated interference with their holy book because this would have destroyed the whole basis of their faith and tradition.

The truth is that the Old Testament was already very widely circulated and even translated before the time of Jesus. A translation into the Greek language was already available in the second century before Christ. This is called the Septuagint and many copies are in museums today. It would be impossible to change the text of the Old Testament in such circumstances. Recently, pre-Christian copies of the Old Testament books have been discovered which contain the very same prophecies. These are the Dead Sea Scrolls which I mentioned in chapter 4. Anyone who reads the Bible itself with an unprejudiced mind will be convinced of its truth.


References

  1. John 5:39
  2. Isaiah 7:14
  3. Matthew 1:18,22-23
  4. Micah 5:2
  5. Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7; John 7:42
  6. Isaiah 35:4-6
  7. Matthew 9:35; cf. Matthew 11:4-6
  8. Isaiah 53:12
  9. Matthew 27:38
  10. Zechariah 12:10
  11. John 19:34
  12. Psalm 41:9; cf. John 13:18; Matthew 10:4
  13. Zechariah 11:12
  14. Matthew 26:15; 27:5,7
  15. Augustine, a 5th Century Christian, once said that the Bible is connected in this way: "The New in the Old Concealed, the Old in the New Revealed".

 

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