As we consider instances of fulfilled prophecy, there is no more crucial example than the prophecies of the life of Jesus Christ.
A central theme of the entire Biblical panorama is the actual presentation of the Coming One, the central person of all history whom the Hebrews call the Messiah: “The volume of the book is written of me” (Psalm 40:7, also quoted in Hebrews 10:7); “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
His story is a love story written in blood on a wooden cross that was erected in Judea about two thousand years ago. His crucifixion wasn’t a tragedy; it was an achievement!Announced in advance in the Garden of Eden at the dawn of history, He made His human debut in a manger in Bethlehem, paid a cosmic price on our behalf at the Cross, and now appears ready to finalize His climax of all human history on our near horizon.
In the Biblical record, every detail, every place name, and every number has been skillfully tailored by deliberate design. And they all point to Him. He is on every page, intricately hidden in every detail of the text. Deciphering these “codes” is our ultimate challenge.
Jesus: The Ultimate Prophecy Fulfilled
Jesus confounded the religious leaders of His day when they couldn’t break the code of the Old Testament text:
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They said unto him, The Son of David. He said unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? [Jesus is quoting Psalm 110:1.] If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
They couldn’t break the code. They couldn’t understand that He, Jesus Christ, was the embodiment of prophecies from the Old Testament. It is essential for each of us to make sure we don’t fall into the same quandary by failing to see Christ for who He was prophesied to be.
It is interesting that Jesus chose to open His ministry at the synagogue of Nazareth by reading from the prophet Isaiah:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Furthermore, it is interesting to compare His reading with the complete passage in Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God.
It is significant that Jesus stopped at what is a comma in our text. He deliberately omitted the additional phrase, “and the day of vengeance of our God.” Because of details like this, I continue to embrace a very literal view of the Biblical text and have learned to respect its precision. Jesus intentionally limited His reading to the mission of His first coming: “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
The “day of vengeance” has been deferred until His Second Coming. The “pause” of that comma in Isaiah 61 has lasted almost two thousand years, and it appears that it is about to be concluded. But by quoting the Old Testament, a prophecy all of His listeners were familiar with, He wanted to state clearly He was The Messiah, the long-awaited One. And again, at one of His first appearances after His resurrection, on that Sunday afternoon walk to Emmaus, Jesus spoke of Himself in the context of Old Testament history: “...beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:12–27).
Jesus led them in a Bible study entirely from the Old Testament, highlighting the very things that had so shaken them during the previous few days. He reinforced His Father’s sovereignty by speaking of a plan that had been unfolding for centuries, a plan that involved the salvation of mankind.
Some deny that He claimed to be God. But anyone who is unaware of His claims hasn’t read the Bible. His claim to be God was the very reason that they crucified Him.
The issue is, were His claims valid? Our individual destinies will hinge on that issue.
What Bible study, repeatedly recorded in the Book of Acts, was given by seven different people on twelve different occasions, and always proved extremely fruitful, yet is rarely given today? The answer: presenting Jesus Christ entirely from the Old Testament. It was the only “Scriptures” they had then; the “New Testament” was still in the process of being compiled. Could you do that? Could you present, to your Jewish friends, Jesus as the Messiah—entirely from the Old Testament? It’s not hard if you are prepared. See our recently updated briefing, Footprints of the Messiah.