Jesus is the Messiah!: More proof
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, numerous prophets predicted His coming. Their prophecies, which are recorded in the Old Testament, were not mere generalities—”a Messiah, a Savior, will come,” etc.—but they gave specific details about places, times, and events that have been fulfilled in only one person who has ever lived—Jesus of Nazareth!
Many of the over 300 Old Testament prophecies about Jesus concerned His death and resurrection—the Easter story. Here are several of the most outstanding, followed by their New Testament fulfillments.
Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
In about 518 B.C., Zechariah prophesied before the people of Israel:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you: He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding upon a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
Five days before His crucifixion, as Jesus neared Jerusalem, He told His disciples, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” … So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. … Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:2-9).
In about 518 B.C., the prophet Zechariah also wrote:
Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
On the night that Jesus was arrested by His enemies, the New Testament tells us that Judas Iscariot “went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:14-15).
In 712 B.C., the prophet Isaiah wrote that Jesus would be tried and put to death, but that in truth He would not die for any sins of His own, but for ours:
By [arrest] and judgment He was taken away. And who can speak of His descendants? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was stricken (Isaiah 53:8 NIV).
Jesus was arrested by the soldiers of the High Priest while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:57). After judging Him in the religious court of His own people, they condemned Him to death, bound Him, and brought Him to Pilate, the Roman governor (Matthew 27:1-2). While Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to demand that Jesus be executed (Matthew 27:19-20). After hearing this, Pilate complied and Jesus was crucified (John 19:16).
Exact Year of His Crucifixion
In 538 B.C., Daniel, an Israelite captive who became a prominent advisor to the kings of two empires, gave an intricate and exact prophecy that, if followed mathematically, would indicate when that the long-awaited Messiah would be born and the exact year He would be killed:
It will be 49 years plus 434 years from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One comes! Jerusalem’s streets and walls will be rebuilt despite the perilous times. After this period of 434 years, the Anointed One will be killed (Daniel 9:25-26 TLB).
In 453 B.C., Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of the Persian Empire, decreed that some of the captive Jews could return and rebuild Jerusalem. The rebuilding took 49 years. Exactly 434 years after that, in 30 A.D., Jesus was crucified.
In about 1000 B.C., King David prophesied about a cruel and agonizing death:
I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. … Dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet. … They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots (Psalm 22:14-18).
King David died a peaceful, natural death, so we know he was not talking about himself in this passage of Scripture. But also being a prophet, David predicted the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death on the cross.
“I am poured out like water … My heart has melted within Me.” Jesus not only poured out His life for us spiritually, but shortly after He died, while He was still hanging on the cross, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out (John 19:34).
“All My bones are out of joint.” This describes one of the horrors of death by crucifixion: the weight of the victim’s body pulls the arms from their sockets.
“Dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.” Jesus’ wicked and vengeful enemies gathered around Him as He hung on the cross, mocking and reviling Him (Matthew 27:39-44).
“They pierced My hands and My feet.” Crucifixion was not practiced in David’s time; execution then was by stoning. But God showed His prophet, David, how the Messiah would die 1,000 years later, executed at the hands of an empire that did not even exist in David’s day, Rome, whose principal means of executing criminals would be crucifixion.
“They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus “took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be'” (John 19:23-24).
Over 700 years before Jesus was crucified, the prophet Isaiah foretold the circumstances of Jesus’ burial:
And He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death (Isaiah 53:9).
In the eyes of His enemies, Jesus was a wicked man. He was crucified between two common criminals (Matthew 27:38). Yet after His death, He was buried among the rich. “A rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph … went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. … When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb” (Matthew 27:57-60).
About 1000 B.C., Israel’s King David praised God for a “Holy One” whose body, even after death, would not be left to decay:
For You will not leave My soul in Sheol [Hades or the world of the dead], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption [decay] (Psalm 16:10).
King David died and was buried, and his flesh decayed; but Jesus was raised from the grave three days and three nights after His death, and His flesh did not decay (Acts 2:27-31). An angel said to mourners who came to Jesus’ tomb, “He is not here, but is risen! Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5-6). Jesus walked the earth for 40 days after His resurrection, and was seen by hundreds of followers (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:4-6). He then ascended to Heaven, where He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Mark 16:19).
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