Intro: Why should you believe in Jesus? I want to try and give you an answer to that question today – not necessarily a comprehensive one, but a very compelling one. But before I go there, let me suggest to you some reason NOT to believe in Jesus:
- You should not believe in Jesus because your parents do, or your grandparents did, or because your family has always believed in Jesus?
- You should not believe in Jesus because doing so will make your life easier.
- You should not believe in Jesus because it makes you feel good about yourself
- You should not believe in Jesus because your friends do, and you want to be accepted by others.
Why should you believe? Because of the evidence. There is reliable, powerful, and compelling evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is exactly who He claimed to be – the Christ, the Son of God.
- Jesus and O.T. Prophecy: My task today is to consider the evidence of O.T. prophecy contained in the scriptures as it relates to the identity of Jesus.
- Did the OT prophets identify the Messiah? The Hebrew prophets had not left the Jews ignorant about how to identify their coming Messiah. There are over 300 prophecies in the O.T. that foreshadow the coming of Israel’s Messiah (anointed one; The Greek word is Christos, or Christ). They are of different sorts. Some are clearly predictive. Some have dual meanings: one historical and another typological. Some are metaphorical of what the Messiah would do, but not overtly predictive. But they are all evidence to be considered. Is Jesus the Messiah? Is He the Christ, the son of God? If it can be established that He fulfilled the OT Messianic prophecies, then the answer MUST be YES.
- Are the prophecies themselves reliable evidence? Respond to one common objection – the prophecy was written after the fact, or Jesus or his followers manipulated the events. Could it be that they written after Jesus’ life? Could Jesus or his followers manipulated the outcome so as to claim fulfillment? Not possible.
- The words of the OT prophets that predict a Messiah were written from 600 – 1000 years before the time of their fulfillment. They had all been translated into the Septuagint nearly 300 years before Jesus was born. The preservation of the OT writings by the Jews provided for an authenticated text of prophecy that clearly predated the fulfillment by hundreds of years.
- Did Jesus claim to be the Messiah and to personally fulfill the OT prophecies? Jesus often directed his disciples and listeners to certain messianic OT scriptures for the specific purpose of applying the words to Himself.
- Read Luke 4:16-22 – And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (ESV) It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of this event. In this text, Jesus is shown presenting Himself to His townspeople in Nazareth as the fulfillment of a prophecy from the prophet Isaiah (61:1, 2) He was doing precisely what the Messiah was predicted to do… (“preach the gospel… heal the brokenhearted… proclaim to the captives… set at liberty those who are oppressed [even demon-possessed]… and recovery of sight to the blind) This was “the acceptable year of the L0RD”—that is, the age of grace and redemption for Israel.) “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
- Jesus upbraided the unbelieving Jews in John 5:38-40– 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. He often corrected His adversaries’ misconceptions and outright rejection of Him with the words, “have you not read…”
- Jesus made the same claim to Cleopas and another disciple as they returned from Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus shortly after Jesus’ resurrection. They did not recognize Jesus and He asked about their apparent sadness. Cleopas answered (Luke 24:18-27) – “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” Then He said to them, “0 foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Later they exclaimed… “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”(v. 32) Now, the only Scriptures He could open at the time were the Old Testament books of Moses and the Hebrew prophets. And verse 44 notes, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and the prophets and the psalms, concerning me.” Jesus clearly believed Himself to be the fulfillment of these OT predictions. If He was not the person these OT prophets spoke about, He was either delusional or an outright liar.
- The Persuasive Use of OT Prophecy in the preaching of the Gospel Message: Why did the people of the 1stcentury believe in Jesus? Certainly, miracles played an important role. But consider the importance and prominence of OT Messianic Prophecies in the teaching of the apostles. It is by far, the most prevalent argument made to the identity of Jesus.
- We certainly can see it in Acts 8– v. 34-36– “…of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Philip “preached Jesus” to the Ethiopian through the lens of Isaiah 53.
- Paul often reasoned (had a dialogue) with the audience about predictive prophecy. In Thessalonica: Acts 17:2-5 – Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
- The Bereans are poster children for the effects of fulfilled prophecy. “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.” (Acts 17:11,12) They were searching the scriptures. What were they studying? I would think not the walls of Jericho, or the healing of Naaman. They were considering the many Messianic prophecies that identified Jesus as their Savior.
- Fast forward to the end of the history of apostolic preaching in the Bible. Paul in Rome. Acts 28:23-25 – …many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved. The prophecies offer supernatural evidence that Jesus is the promised Savior of the world who can forgive sins. Fulfilled prophecy is still an irrefutable argument for the validity of the gospel message.
III. Prophecies that Point to Jesus: We do not have the time to consider all 109 predictions or descriptions. But we will mention a few of the more specific ones.
- Genesis 3:15 –Satan (the serpent) would be fatally wounded by one identified as the “seed of woman”. Points to the virgin birth of Jesus. Gal. 4:4
- Jesus’ virgin birth was also predicted by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before it occurred. Isaiah 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” The fulfillment of this well-known prophecy makes Him one of a kind.
- Micah 5:2–The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem; (Matthew 2:1)
- Jesus fulfilled a number of predictions that have to do with the Messiah’s genealogy, or family line. God narrowed down the family line of the Messiah in such a way that eliminated most people who have ever been born.
- The Christ Will Be A Descendant Of Abraham – Gen. 12:1-3 – God eliminates all the families of the earth but one-the family of Abraham. Whoever claims to be the Messiah has to be a descendant of Abraham for God told Abraham that one of his descendants will bless all the earth.
- He Will Be a Descendant of Isaac; from the family of his son, Jacob;
- Matthew records the fulfillment in his genealogy.
- A descendant of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples (Genesis 49:10).
- The Messiah Will Be From Family Line Of Jesse; There were many family lines in the tribe of Judah, but only through the family line of Jesse could the Messiah come. He is the Branch that will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1 – Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
- He Will Descend From The House Of David: 2 Samuel 7:12 – When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. Jesse had at least eight sons. God eliminated 7/8 of the sons of Jesse when He said the Messiah would be through the line of David. Again, the list of potential candidates gets narrower and narrower.
- The very first verse of the New Testament records the fulfillment of this prophecy. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David, the son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1).When the angel appeared to Mary announcing Jesus’ birth he confirmed that Mary’s child would be a descendant of David. You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of His father David (Luke 1:31,32).
- The time of His coming: Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9 (seventy weeks) predicts the time of the Messiah’s death (being cut off) as happening before the Temple and the city of Jerusalem is destroyed. (Dan. 9:26)
- note: Jesus literally fulfilled all of these predictions, but there is no way, humanly speaking, that He could have deliberately fulfilled them. The coming of the Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and, in doing so, has the right to claim to be the promised Messiah.
- F. In addition, there are numerous prophecies concerning His death, burial and resurrection that point clearly at Jesus.
- Betrayed by a close associate ( 41:9); betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12);
- The picture of vicarious suffering in 53; was a man of sorrows; silent before His executioners; died for the iniquities of others; buried in a rich man’s tomb; [Rabbis were convinced that this was Messianic, but irreconcilable with the prediction of a victorious King. They envisioned 2 Messiahs – One to be King (Messiah ben David) – One to suffer for others (Messiah ben Joseph)]hands were pierced; He was mocked and scorned; crucified with criminals; the soldiers cast lots for his clothing (Psalm 22)
- Psalm 16& Psalm 2 both envision the resurrection – You will not leave my soul in the grave nor allow your holy one to see corruption. Peter tells us David was speaking about Jesus. (Acts 2) Jesus spoke the opening words of the 22nd Psalm from the cross to call attention to the fulfilling of OT prophecy that the onlookers were witnessing.
- The Mathematical Odds of Jesus Fulfilling Prophecy– One Scholar considers 48 prophecies and says, “we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157, or 1 with 157 0’s after it. The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies by accident.”
Conclusion: The passage we referenced in our previous lesson on OT prophecy –2 Peter 1:19-21 – 9 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Fulfilled prophecy is a light shining in the darkness. It is all the evidence that we need to believe in Jesus, and commit ourselves to Him. We dare not ignore the evidence. Heb 2:1-4 – Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
- Do you Believe? Have you considered the evidence? He that believes and is baptized will be saved.