Messianic Prophecies and Their Fulfillment
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill."
- Matthew 5:17 (emphasis mine)
Jesus didn't come to abolish, but he came to fulfill. And that is what He did. Those prophecies were made in the Law. They were made in the Prophets and He came and fulfilled them. We are going to look at several passages, along with this one, that talk about the scriptures that He fulfilled. Jesus brought those prophecies full circle, that's what He is saying here. He didn't come to destroy. He came to fulfill. And, by doing so, he brought all things full circle.
In John 5:39, as Jesus was talking to some people who actually wanted to kill him because he was claiming to be God (a bona fide claim because he was, in fact, God), he said this to them:
"You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me."
- John 5:39
This is Jesus telling those who want to kill him that your own scriptures testify about me. And of course, he is talking about the Old Covenant, or as we would say it today, the Old Testament, including the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. These are the Scriptures he was referencing that testified about Him. Also read below what Jesus said to his companions after His resurrection.
"O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
- Luke 24:25-26
He's expressing to them that everything that happened to Him was written in the Prophets. This restates the idea that He did not come to destroy, but fulfill, the Law and the Prophets. And so that's what he's talking to these guys about. He further says to them,
Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
- Luke 24:27
So Jesus could do this. If He could go back to Moses, go back to the prophets and explain his own circumstances to them through those writings, we ought to be able to do that. And, later, when Jesus was with the apostles and others after His resurrection, he said,
"These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
- Luke 24:44-47
Once again, he states that the word of God in the writings of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms were fulfilled in his life. All of it happened.
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
- Luke 24:44-47
Jesus is affirming that it is written in the Scriptures that these things would happen.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him…
- Acts 8:35
When Philip approached the Ethiopian eunuch, he taught from Isaiah 53. Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch was traveling on his way from Jerusalem. He'd been there to worship. He was reading from the Scroll of Isaiah, chapter 53, and Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, and he said, How can I? Unless some man guides me. And so Philip began at that same spot, Isaiah 53, and preached Jesus to the man when Paul was in the city of Antioch in the synagogue, preaching the message below:
…to us the message of this salvation has been sent. For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him.
- Acts 13:26-29
And this is especially interesting as he's affirming, as Jesus did, that the message of Jesus is in the prophets, and that those who were enemies of Jesus fulfilled those prophecies by condemning Him and crucifying Him by putting Him to death in the way they did. Isn't that interesting that God's enemies are the ones who fulfilled the prophecies concerning His son? And those prophecies were centuries old.
And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb…
- Acts 13:26-29
So we come to a place later on in the Book of Acts (Acts 18:24; Acts 18:28). It says that there was a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandria by birth, an eloquent man, who came to Ephesus. And he was mighty in the Scriptures. So in the first century, when he came to Ephesus, what Scriptures would he have been mighty in except the Old Testament scriptures, as we would call them now, the writings of Moses, the writings of the Prophets, the Psalms, all of those Old Testament writings. He was mighty in those. And it says he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Would you like to know what Scriptures he used? Well, we know where they would have been. They would have been in the Old Testament. And he would have used them to powerfully refute detractors and demonstrate that Jesus was the Christ.
So Apollos demonstrated in the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Can we do this today? That's the question. Using the same texts that were available to Apollos. And, of course, the answer is a resounding yes.
We could begin with Genesis 3:15, which was spoken by the Lord around 4000 B.C. That's about 6000 years ago. And later it was written down by Moses around 1514 B.C.
To Satan, the Lord said… "… and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel."
- Genesis 3:15
How about that from Genesis, 1500 years or so before Jesus came in the flesh, a prophesy about the woman's seed being the Christ. Next, read this prophecy about where her seed would be born.
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity."
- Micah 5:2
So this is Micah, hundreds of years before Jesus came in the flesh, prophesying that this One who would go forth for the Lord would be born in Bethlehem.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son…
- Luke 2:4-7
And we all know that this person was Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, born in Bethlehem of Judah, just as Micah had prophesied hundreds of years before.
"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
So, Jacob, is prophetically speaking over a thousand years before Jesus came. He's talking about the fact that the scepter shall not depart from Judah, the tribe from which Jesus would come until Shiloh comes. This is Jacob's prophecy to his son, Judah, regarding the scepter, the royalty, the fact that kingship would reside with Judah.
…the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah.
- Luke 3:33
And so these texts show, of course, that Jesus was from the lineage of Judah, just as Jacob had prophesied in Genesis 49. Then in 680 B.C. (see below), we're told with specificity what family and tribe Jesus would come from.
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
- Isaiah 11:1
Then in that day
The nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;
And His resting place will be glorious.
- Isaiah 11:10
So this person who will be the offspring of Jesse, would be glorious, and he would be a signal to the people. And, to find out more, we go back to the genealogy of Luke.
…the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz…
- Luke 3:31-32
So again, we see Jesus, the offspring of Jesse in the in the physical human lineage, in which is he is presented here. So we've got another prophecy, not just of the Tribe of Judah, but the specific family of Jesse and the line of David from which he would come.
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.
- Isaiah 7:14
The name Immanuel means God with us.
…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
- Matthew 1:20
Of course, Joseph had not lain with Mary by this point. They were not technically married. And so it was a potential scandal that she be with child but the angel is explaining here to Joseph to not be afraid to take Mary to himself because the child is of the Holy Spirit. No man has been with her. She remains a virgin. Now, concerning the differences in the Hebrew and Greek words translated virgin, I want to say the Hebrew word Alma is used in Isaiah 7:14, which could be interpreted a young maiden rather than specifically virgin. But you need to remember that the Lord certainly had a specific meaning in mind. That's what we must keep in mind.
So Matthew and Luke come along later and they both use the Greek word Parthenon, which means specifically Virgin. In addition to this, they are careful to tell us that she was with child before being with a man. This is from Matthew 1:18;25 and Luke 1:34-35. So the testimony of Scripture is from Isaiah and from Matthew and Luke that Mary was a virgin when she came to be with the child of Jesus. And that child was, of course, of the Holy Spirit. It was also foretold in Isaiah that Jesus would be preceded by a messenger.
A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
- Isaiah 40:3
And another text can be found in Malachi almost word for word:
"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the Lord of Hosts.
- Malachi 3:1
So here is testimony from Isaiah and from Malachi that the coming of Jesus would be preceded by a messenger. And of course, that messenger was John the Baptist, cousin to Jesus. And he came in the spirit and power of Elijah.
It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
- Luke 1:17
It was John's work to prepare the way for the Lord, and this is exactly what He did. He was Jesus's cousin being about six months older, and this was his work as we know it from prophecy.
Isaiah also says that Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, would be rejected. Now, think about that as we read the texts. If you were a Jewish prophet making these things up, why would you write about a messiah that would come and be rejected? There wouldn't be much glory in that. And yet that's exactly what Isaiah and other prophets tell us.
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
- Isaiah 53:3
The entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah is about the rejection of Jesus and actually begins in the last part of Chapter 52. But this particular text speaks specifically of it. This is Isaiah writing prophetically of the Messiah who would come.
And, furthermore, John the Apostle writes in the beginning of his gospel:
He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
- John 1:11
And we also see it borne out in all the other gospels on almost every page that Jesus was confronted, challenged, and persecuted by those who should have been receiving Him, but did not.
But they cried out all together, saying, "Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!"
- Luke 23:18
So not only are they rejecting Jesus, but during His trial, they're rejecting Jesus in favor of one who was an insurrectionist and a murderer. That's the nature of Jesus's rejection told prophetically. In Psalms, Jesus's betrayal was also foretold right down to the price paid for him and even what was to be done with the money.
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.
- Psalms 41:9
And then we read this:
And immediately he went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.
- Matthew 26:49-50
Of course, this is the record of Judas betraying His Lord in the garden in front of all the other apostles. And read below to see what the prophet Zachariah said centuries earlier:
12I said to them, "If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!" So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. 13Then the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.
- Zechariah 11:12-13
I want you to notice those bold words because I put them in bold for emphasis. I'm trying to highlight those particular aspects of this passage because it was written in about 520 B.C. by the Prophet Zachariah over 500 years before this would actually be fulfilled regarding Jesus, that 30 pieces of silver would be weighed out as the price for Judas's betrayal. And when Judas repented, he would come back and throw that money into the temple. And the chief priests would collect it back up and use it to buy a potter's field. Very specific and very detailed. And we know, of course, this is exactly what happened.
Details in the Betrayal by Judas
Let's see just how many details are represented:
- The money was weighed out (Matthew 26:15). That's how they did it in those days. Shekels had to be a certain weight, to be fair, and they laid out those shekels. The amount was 30 shekels of silver, not just 30 shekels, but 30 shekels of silver.
- The money was thrown (Matthew 27:5). That's what Matthew records, that it was thrown.
- The money was thrown into the temple (Matthew 27:7). That's where it was thrown. And then the money was then used to buy a potter's field.
All of that is prophetically stated by Zachariah over 500 years before it happens. And another same point I'd like to make again that I made before this prophecy was fulfilled by the enemies of Jesus. You would think those guys would have known their own prophetic the words of prophecy concerning the Messiah, and they would have not wanted to use 30 pieces of silver. They would say, Hey, use 25 or 35, anything but 30 and anything but silver, and then don't use that money to buy a potter's field, because that's what Zacharias said would happen. And yet the enemies of God fulfill the words of this prophet as written in the gospel of Matthew.
So how much detail is provided concerning the crucifixion?
The Psalms of David were written about a thousand B.C. and yet David wrote this:
All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
"Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."
- Psalms 22:7-8
Now, if you're familiar with the record of Jesus' crucifixion, as the gospel writers gave it to us, you know that this was the scene there, Jesus being sneered at. They were wagging their heads. They were saying, You commit yourself to God, let God deliver you. This was written by David, however, about a thousand years before it happened to Jesus.
David also wrote Psalms 22:16 - "They pierced my hands and my feet." This is particularly interesting to me because there is no record of any of David's enemies ever piercing his hands or his feet, and yet a thousand years before it happens to Jesus, David writes this down in this psalm.
We read more still in the 22nd Psalm. "They look, they stare at me." Of course. Where was Jesus? He was suspended on a cross above the earth, on display for everyone to see.
And, again, in the 22nd Psalm. He says, "they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." There is no record of this ever happening to David, and yet it tells in a very detailed manner exactly what happened with Jesus. They had his clothing. They had his garments. They divided things according to how they desired to divide those things. But when it came to his outer garment, it could not be torn to be divided up because, obviously, it would be ruined. And so the Roman soldiers decided to cast lots for it. This is an exact fulfillment of what David had said a thousand years before, and yet David wrote these things down without there being any record of any of these things ever happening to him. But they all happened in a very detailed way to Jesus. Very interesting.
There's more detail here from Psalms 34:20, "he keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken" which is very interesting because this references back to the Passover and Paul would write to the church at Corinth that Jesus is our Passover. Of course, that Passover lamb was the shadow of what was to come. And Jesus was that reality. The King. He fulfilled that Passover promise. He was the lamb that was given so that no one would have to die. And of that lamb, it is said not one single bone of that lamb should be broken. And of course, Jesus died without any of his limbs being broken. But you remember what happened to the thieves. Those two thieves that were crucified, one on the right, one left of Jesus. They came to them. They were still alive. And so in order to hasten their deaths, the Roman soldiers broke their legs. So if everything was as it should have been, naturally speaking, Jesus should have also been still alive. And His legs would have been broken. But his legs were not broken because by that time he had given his spirit back to God.
And by the way, just as a note of personal interest, when He died, He didn't die with a whimpering last breath. He cried out with a loud voice. The text says, Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit. That's how Jesus died. And that is why when they came to him and found Him dead, they did not break any of His bones.
When we look at Exodus 12:46, we are referenced back to that Passover lamb I mentioned a while ago, and this is well worth studying how that lamb was to be selected and how it was to be treated. And you can imagine, pull that little lamb into your home and you keep it for five days, and then you kill that lamb on the end of the fifth day. And that's what happened with Jesus. He was our lamb, totally innocent and slain as the Passover lamb was slain.
Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.
- Isaiah 52:14-15
Think about this prophecy of Isaiah given over 700 years before it happened to Jesus. People were astonished. His appearance was marred more than any man. So think about Jesus resting in the garden that night. No food, perhaps. Perhaps no water, probably very little sleep spent in whatever way he was confined for that entire night. And then on the next day he was brought before the court. He was bound. He was slapped in the face on at least two different occasions. He was hit over the head with a reed. A crown of thorns was pressed onto his head, and then before his crucifixion, he was beaten with the flagellum. And that is a whip that has many thongs coming off the end of it. And on the end of those thongs would be tied pieces of bone or metal or stone. When that weapon would strike your flesh, it would penetrate and perhaps tear off chunks of flesh. And you can just imagine Jesus being beaten by those Romans who were not limited in how they would beat their prisoners sometimes, perhaps those thongs would come around to the front and hit Jesus in the face.
However it happened, whatever took place, his appearance was marred more than any man, and his form, more than the sons of men. And, of course, any Jew would recognize the reference to blood in the sprinkling of many nations. That's how covenants were ratified with the sprinkling of blood. And so Jesus's blood wouldn't be spilled like it was an accident. It would be shed on purpose as was the blood of the Passover lamb.
So there's no record of crucifixion being used as a means of execution until sometime in the sixth century B.C. That's the first extant record we have of crucifixion being used. The Romans didn't begin using crucifixion until around the time of Christ's birth. So how is it that all those prophecies concerning crucifixion could be so specific and so exact and yet be fulfilled in Christ? And we have more detail from the prophet Amos in 755 B.C.
"It will come about in that day," declares the Lord God,
"That I will make the sun go down at noon
And make the earth dark in broad daylight.
- Amos 8:9
This is what the Prophet Amos said over 700 years before the coming of Christ.
Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.
- Matthew 27:45
The sixth hour, of course, would have been noon. The ninth hour would have been 3:00. This is the time of day that the sun would be at its peak and be at its brightest. And yet Matthew records that darkness, rather than the sun, fell upon the land for those 3 hours. Secular sources also recorded accounts of the darkness during the crucifixion.
Phlegon, a Greek historian, wrote an extensive chronology around 137 A.D. and this is what he wrote in commenting on that darkness.
In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33) there was 'the greatest eclipse of the sun' and that 'it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.
So he calls it an eclipse without any further explanation. And it was so dark that the stars appeared in the heavens. That has to be quite dark. You don't see stars in the middle of the day without there being quite a bit of darkness. And this is from a secular historian. This isn't someone who was a member of the church or some preacher or some would be apostle trying to write about this. This is a secular historian writing these things down, and this record has been found and preserved. We also have an account from the pagan historian Thallus. He wrote a regional history around 52 A.D., though his original work is lost, he was quoted by the historian Julius Africanus.
"Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away the darkness as an eclipse of the sun - unreasonably as it seems to me."
So we've got these two records of the darkness taking place at the Crucifixion of Jesus. And it's interesting that the fact that they tried to explain this darkness away is solid evidence that it happened. Isn't that interesting that once again, we see those who would not necessarily be friends of Christ or friends of God supporting what God has said, even the burial of Jesus burial was foretold.
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
- Isaiah 53:9
So he was assigned with wicked men, yet he was with a rich man in his death. A rich man. Isn't that interesting? So, Matthew says this
And when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph… Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock…
- Matthew 27:57; 59-60
So Isaiah's prophetic words, over 700 years before they were to take place, were fulfilled perfectly by Joseph of Arimathea.
So what have we seen so far in all of this?
- That Jesus would receive a slight injury while dealing a defeating blow to Satan
- Where He would be born
- From which tribe He would come
- From which family within that tribe
- That He would be born of a virgin
- That He would be preceded by a messenger in the spirit and power of Elijah
- That He would be rejected by His own
- That He would be betrayed by a close friend
- the betrayal price would be weighed out
- it would be 30 pieces of silver
- it would be thrown
- it would be thrown into the temple
- it would be used to buy a potters' field
- Intimate details of His death:
- sneered at and mocked
- hands and feet pierced
- on display to be stared at
- garments gambled over
- no bone broken
- a marred appearance
- darkness at noon
- burial with the rich
So these are just a few of the most obvious prophecies and their fulfillments that we've looked at so far. But what about the many others?
- Flight to Egypt – Hosea 11:1
- Slaughter of the children – Jeremiah 31:15
- Honored by great kings – Psalms 72:10; 15
- Blind, deaf, and lame healed – Isaiah 35:5-6
- Triumphal entry into Jerusalem – Zechariah 9:9
- Adored by infants – Psalms 8:2
- His sheep scattered – Zechariah 13:7
- Spat on and struck – Isaiah 50:6
- Scourged – Isaiah 53:5
- Numbered with transgressors – Isaiah 53:12
- Side pierced – Zechariah 12:10
- Resurrected! – Psalms 16:10
All of these things and there are others that we have not included in this lesson were mentioned prophetically hundreds of years, and in some cases thousands of years, before Jesus was even born in the flesh.
So what will we do with these things?
It's no wonder that I find myself in full agreement with the Centurion and those with him at the crucifixion when he said,
"Truly, this was (is) the Son of God"
I hope this lesson has been helpful for you. I hope these accounts of prophetic evidence are things you'll go back and take a look at and that they might increase your faith or convince you that Jesus really is the son of God.