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Jesus' Amazing Fulfillment of Prophecy

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“But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets…He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18 Acts 3:18But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled.
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).

To claim that you are God is one thing—but to convince people that you are indeed what you say you are is quite another. So how did Jesus’ closest followers come to be so convinced that they would lay down their lives for that belief?

Many Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled in precise detail by Jesus of Nazareth. Neither the Jews nor the disciples of Jesus understood at the time that Jesus was fulfilling the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament—even though at times He told them this was the case (Luke 18:31 Luke 18:31Then he took to him the twelve, and said to them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
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; Matthew 26:56 Matthew 26:56But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
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). They were looking for a far different Messiah than the One so many prophecies actually described.

One of Jesus’ defenses to the Jews was to appeal to the Old Testament Scriptures themselves, which identified Him as the One to come. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me,” He told them (John 5:39 John 5:39Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
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).

After Jesus was resurrected, He began to help His disciples understand the Scriptures, and the disciples were inspired to declare that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. The proof they offered was the very Scriptures they had not previously understood.

Putting together the prophetic puzzle

Shortly after His resurrection, Jesus met two of His disciples who were deep in discussion as they walked along the road to the town of Emmaus. Not recognizing Him, they openly reasoned how such events as the death of the Messiah could possibly happen. Jesus began to explain to them that His suffering and crucifixion were foretold in the Scriptures.

He gently chided them: “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26 Luke 24:25-26 25 Then he said to them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
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, NRSV). Then, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27 Luke 24:27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
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).

Later that same day He appeared to nearly all of His apostles and clarified what He had been telling them before His death. “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44 Luke 24:44And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
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).

“Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” referred to the three major divisions of the Old Testament, something every believing Jew, as these apostles were, understood. “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day’ ” (Luke 24:45-46 Luke 24:45-46 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
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).

God’s Spirit opens the Scriptures to understanding

Within days the apostles began quoting passages from Scripture, declaring that these prophecies had been fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

Peter speaks of the death of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, in Acts 1:20 Acts 1:20For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his position as bishop let another take.
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, quoting from Psalms 69:25 Psalms 69:25Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.
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and Psalms 109:8 Psalms 109:8Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
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: “Let his dwelling place be desolate, and let no one live in it,” and “Let another take his office.” Peter and the disciples had begun to understand that the Scriptures spoke in detail of many aspects of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

After receiving the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, their understanding of the Scriptures would increase greatly (John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
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). Speaking on that day, Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-29 Joel 2:28-29 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also on the servants and on the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
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, telling us that the sending of the Holy Spirit was a fulfillment of that prophecy (Acts 2:14-18 Acts 2:14-18 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said to them, You men of Judaea, and all you that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known to you, and listen to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
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).

Peter continues his message to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem by explaining the resurrection of Jesus with a reference to Psalms 16:8-11 Psalms 16:8-11 8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more.
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: “For David says concerning Him [Jesus]: ‘I foresaw the LORD always before my face, for He is at my right hand… For You will not leave my soul in Hades [the grave], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption [decay after death]…You will make me full of joy in Your presence [through resurrection from the grave]’” (Acts 2:25-28 Acts 2:25-28 25 For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance.
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). Peter asserts that David was a prophet and foresaw the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.

Even more astounding is David’s picture of the resurrected Christ that Peter quotes: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’ ” (Acts 2:34-36 Acts 2:34-36 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, 35 Until I make your foes your footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
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). Peter now sees clearly that the Old Testament pictured the coming of Jesus the Messiah—the Messiah whom he followed for more than three years. Now Peter is quoting Scripture to his countrymen to prove to them that Jesus is the Messiah.

Many years later we find Paul, who originally violently opposed those who accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah, reasoning with the Jews in synagogues that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Christ (Acts 17:1-4 Acts 17:1-4 1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
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). Likewise Apollos “refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:28 Acts 18:28For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
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). Some of the Jews they addressed were beginning to understand their own Scriptures in the light of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

Fulfilled prophecies in the Gospels

Those Jews who believed that Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies were in the minority. The Gospel writers, however, are relentless in their quotations from the Scriptures to demonstrate how Jesus fulfilled in detail the many messianic prophecies.

The apostle Matthew, for example, appears to have specifically written his Gospel to a first-century Jewish audience. Through a series of Old Testament quotations, Matthew documents Jesus Christ’s claim to be the Messiah. Jesus’ genealogy, baptism, messages and miracles all point to the same inescapable conclusion: He is the prophesied Messiah.

Matthew’s Gospel cites 21 prophecies that were fulfilled in circumstances surrounding the life and death of Christ. Eleven passages point out these fulfillments using such introductions as “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of by the prophet…” or “then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet…”

Accidental fulfillment of prophecies?

The New Testament writers cite messianic prophecies from the Old Testament more than 130 times. By some estimates the Old Testament contains 300 prophetic passages that describe who the Messiah is and what He will do. Of these, 60 are major prophecies. What are the chances of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person?

Of course, as Dr. Geisler points out, God makes no mistakes. It is virtually inconceivable that God would allow either a total deception in His name or an accidental fulfillment in the life of the wrong person. Such things rule out a chance fulfillment (p. 343).

One might argue there is still that possibility—however remote. But the mathematical odds that all of these prophecies could have converged by chance in the events of the life of Jesus are staggeringly minute—to the point of eliminating any such possibility.

Astronomer and mathematician Peter Stoner, in his book Science Speaks, offers a mathematical analysis showing that it is impossible that the precise statements about the One to come could be fulfilled in a single person by mere coincidence.

The chance of only eight of these dozens of prophecies being fulfilled in the life of one man has been estimated at 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That would be 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000.

How can we put this in terms we can comprehend? Dr. Stoner illustrates the odds with this scenario: “Take 10 17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas [with its approximate land area of 262,000 square miles]. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one.

“What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.”

But that is only eight of the dozens of prophecies of the Messiah. Using the science of probability, the chance of as many as 48 of these prophecies coming to pass in one person is 1 in 10 to the 157th power—a 1 followed by 157 zeros (1963, pp. 100-109).

One or two fulfillments in Jesus’ life could be dismissed as coincidental. But when the instances of fulfilled prophecies are counted up, the law of probability quickly reaches the point where mere probability becomes certainty. This is one of the proofs Jesus was the promised Messiah—the messianic prophecies were accurately and precisely fulfilled in Him.

Let’s review some of these.

The Seed of Abraham and descendant of David

In Galatians 3:8 Galatians 3:8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.
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and Galatians 3:16 Galatians 3:16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ.
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, Paul explains that the promise made to Abraham, “In you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3 Genesis 12:3And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.
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; Genesis 18:18 Genesis 18:18Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
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; Genesis 22:18), was a reference to the coming Messiah. This promise was later repeated to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:4 Genesis 26:4And I will make your seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give to your seed all these countries; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
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) and then later passed on through Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Genesis 28:14 Genesis 28:14And your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in you and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
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).

Several hundred years later the future Messiah was prophesied to come through Jesse, the father of King David, of the tribe of Judah—one of Jacob’s 12 sons. “There shall come forth a Rod [Shoot] from the stem [stock] of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of His roots” (Isaiah 11:1 Isaiah 11:1And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
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).

David was the son of Jesse from whom the line would come that would produce Jesus of Nazareth some 30 generations later. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God foretold that He would “raise up to David a righteous Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5 Jeremiah 23:5Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
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, New International Version).

In this amazing progression of prophecies, beginning some 1,500 years before the Messiah would come, we are told in precise terms what the human lineage of the Christ would be. Jesus fulfilled these promises, as the apostle Matthew shows us in recording the descent of Jesus through the line of King David. The number of people who potentially could have fulfilled the messianic prophecies narrows greatly when limited to this family.

Messiah to come from Bethlehem

The Jews of Jesus’ day also knew that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem (Matthew 2:3-6 Matthew 2:3-6 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And you Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, are not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of you shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
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). This was plainly understood from Micah 5:2 Micah 5:2But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
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: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

There were two Bethlehems, one in the region of Ephrathah in Judea and the other to the north, in the region of the tribe of Zebulun. But Micah’s prophecy is precise. The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Ephrathah. Jesus was born in this Bethlehem in Judea (Matthew 2:1 Matthew 2:1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
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).

The prophecies discussed so far strongly point to Jesus, but they are not conclusive. Other people could have qualified if you use only these three as the criteria. But these are only the beginning.

A virgin conceives

A remarkable prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 Isaiah 7:14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
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, called “the Immanuel prophecy,” foretells the unique birth of Jesus by a virgin: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Before Jesus was born, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that his betrothed, Mary, was expecting a child—conceived not by man, but by the Spirit of God. The angel referred to this prophecy from Isaiah (Matthew 1:18-23 Matthew 1:18-23 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
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; compare Luke 1:26-35 Luke 1:26-35 26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in to her, and said, Hail, you that are highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. 31 And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary to the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.
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).

Jesus was a prophet

Moses, considered the greatest of the Hebrew prophets and teachers, wrote the messianic prophecy that God would raise up a Prophet like himself from among Israel, and He would directly represent God (Deuteronomy 18:15-18 Deuteronomy 18:15-18 15 The LORD your God will raise up to you a Prophet from the middle of you, of your brothers, like to me; to him you shall listen; 16 According to all that you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17 And the LORD said to me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brothers, like to you, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him.
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).

Jesus was regarded as a prophet (Matthew 21:46 Matthew 21:46But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
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; Luke 7:16 Luke 7:16And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God has visited his people.
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; Luke 24:19 Luke 24:19And he said to them, What things? And they said to him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
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; John 4:19 John 4:19The woman said to him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
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; John 9:17 John 9:17They say to the blind man again, What say you of him, that he has opened your eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
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). After He had miraculously multiplied fish and bread to feed the 5,000, Jesus was regarded specifically as the prophet of whom Moses had spoken (John 6:14 John 6:14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
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; compare John 7:40 John 7:40Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
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). Peter later explicitly referred to Jesus as this prophet (Acts 3:20-23 Acts 3:20-23 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you of your brothers, like to me; him shall you hear in all things whatever he shall say to you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
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).

A sacrifice for sins

The Old Testament prophecies of the details of the suffering and death of the Messiah were not at all well understood in Jesus’ day. The Jews believed that the Messiah they were looking for would be a victorious king who would deliver them from the hated Romans and restore an Israelite kingdom—not a humble Teacher who would endure suffering and death for the sins of mankind.

Yet this is a major area of Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfillment. Virtually every aspect of Jesus’ suffering and death was spelled out in considerable detail centuries before it actually happened.

The true picture revealed in these prophecies is that the Messiah would be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
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). The people did not expect the promised Deliverer, the conquering King, to be One who would first give His life for others.

Hebrews 10:12 Hebrews 10:12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
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tells us that the death of Christ was the offering for sin once and for all: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” Hebrews 10:5-7 quote Psalms 40:6-8 Psalms 40:6-8 6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire; my ears have you opened: burnt offering and sin offering have you not required. 7 Then said I, See, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8 I delight to do your will, O my God: yes, your law is within my heart.
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in describing the willingness of Christ to surrender Himself as a sacrifice to pay the price for the sins of everyone.

The sacrificial system God instituted in ancient Israel was a representation of Jesus’ sacrifice that would pay this price once and for all. Shedding the blood of bulls, heifers, sheep and goats could not take away sin (Hebrews 10:4 Hebrews 10:4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
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).

Only the shed blood of the Creator Himself could atone for their sins as well as the sins of every other human being. The sacrifices that were commanded under Moses pictured in a very graphic way the future sacrificial death of humanity’s Savior for our sins. In this sense the sacrificial system itself was prophetic of the Messiah.

The Lamb of God

The Passover lambs that were slain on the 14th day of the first month by the Israelites (Exodus 12:3-6 Exodus 12:3-6 3 Speak you to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
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; Leviticus 23:5 Leviticus 23:5In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover.
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) were a powerful and poignant depiction of the sacrifice of the Messiah, though the Israelites never understood it at the time.

It was on this same day of the Hebrew calendar, the day the Passover lambs were slain, that Jesus was arrested, tried and executed. He truly was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” as spoken of by John the Baptist (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
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).

For centuries the Israelites missed this prophetic picture, as did the Jews of Jesus’ day, and only after the fact did the disciples understand that Jesus fulfilled whole sections of Scripture that no one suspected would be fulfilled by the Messiah.

Prophecies surrounding His betrayal, suffering and death

No fewer than 29 prophecies were fulfilled in the 24-hour period leading up to Jesus’ death. Some of the more notable are:

He would be crucified. “They pierced My hands and My feet” (Psalms 22:16 Psalms 22:16For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
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). This statement was written some 1,000 years before the event that fulfilled it (see John 20:25-27 John 20:25-27 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the LORD. But he said to them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you. 27 Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
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). Perhaps even more remarkable, this prophecy described a form of execution that would not come into practice for centuries—some 800 years would pass before the Romans adopted crucifixion as a form of punishment for condemned criminals.

His body would be pierced. “They will look on Me whom they pierced” (Zechariah 12:10 Zechariah 12:10And I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
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). John tells us what happened: “One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34 John 19:34But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and immediately came there out blood and water.
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). John tells us that he was an eyewitness to this event (John 19:35 John 19:35And he that saw it bore record, and his record is true: and he knows that he said true, that you might believe.
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) and verifies this was fulfillment of that prophecy: “And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced’ ” (John 19:37 John 19:37And again another scripture said, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
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).

None of His bones would be broken. “He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken” (Psalms 34:20 Psalms 34:20He keeps all his bones: not one of them is broken.
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). John tells us: “Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs” (John 19:32-33 John 19:32-33 32 Then came the soldiers, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs:
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).

John verifies that this is a prophecy that was fulfilled: “For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken’ ” (John 19:36 John 19:36For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
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).

People would cast lots for His clothing. “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (Psalms 22:18 Psalms 22:18They part my garments among them, and cast lots on my clothing.
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). John testifies that this detail, too, was fulfilled.

“Then the soldiers, when they had 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,’ that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 19:23-24 John 19:23-24 23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which said, They parted my raiment among them, and for my clothing they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
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).

He would pray for his executioners. “He… made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12 Isaiah 53:12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
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). Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 Luke 23:34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
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).

He would be executed with criminals. “And He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12 Isaiah 53:12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
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). Matthew 27:38 Matthew 27:38Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
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tells us that “two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.”

He would not retaliate. “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7 Isaiah 53:7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.
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).

Matthew 27:12 Matthew 27:12And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
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tells us that “while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.” Pilate, the Roman governor, also tried to get Him to answer, “but He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly” (Matthew 27:13-14 Matthew 27:13-14 13 Then said Pilate to him, Hear you not how many things they witness against you? 14 And he answered him to never a word; so that the governor marveled greatly.
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).

He would be forsaken by His followers. “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zechariah 13:7 Zechariah 13:7Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, said the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand on the little ones.
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). When Jesus was arrested, all His disciples “forsook Him and fled” (Mark 14:50 Mark 14:50And they all forsook him, and fled.
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).

He would be betrayed by a trusted friend. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas, one of His disciples, was prophesied in Psalms 41:9 Psalms 41:9Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
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: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Jesus proclaims this prophecy to be fulfilled when He gives Judas the piece of bread in John 13:18 John 13:18I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.
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and John 13:26 John 13:26Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
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.

The price of the betrayal would be 30 pieces of silver. The 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas for the betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 26:14-15 Matthew 26:14-15 14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, 15 And said to them, What will you give me, and I will deliver him to you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
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) is understood to have been prophesied in Zechariah 11:12 Zechariah 11:12And I said to them, If you think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
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: “So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.”

He would be offered vinegar and gall. Jesus being offered vinegar with gall to drink while being crucified (Matthew 27:34 Matthew 27:34They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
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) is understood to be referred to in Psalms 69:21 Psalms 69:21They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
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: “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Once again, the sheer number of prophecies and their precision all point to their being fulfilled by one person, Jesus of Nazareth. Yet in spite of so much specific, eyewitness testimony to fulfilled prophecies, some people still raise various objections.

Was their fulfillment contrived?

A common objection some raise is that Jesus and His followers deliberately attempted to fulfill these prophecies. Several books have proposed variations of this theory, among them The Passover Plot. Advocates of this idea allege that Jesus manipulated events to make it look like He fulfilled the prophecies. Somehow Jesus managed to fake His own death, to be revived later.

There is no doubt that Jesus did take some steps to directly fulfill prophecy, such as securing the donkey on which to ride into Jerusalem and making sure that His disciples had swords to be reckoned as criminals (see Matthew 21:1-7 Matthew 21:1-7 1 And when they drew near to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, to the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying to them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them to me. 3 And if any man say ought to you, you shall say, The Lord has need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell you the daughter of Sion, Behold, your King comes to you, meek, and sitting on an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
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; Luke 22:36-38 Luke 22:36-38 36 Then said he to them, But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and likewise his money: and he that has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37 For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said to them, It is enough.
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). This was not, however, deceptive. After all, God explained in the Old Testament how He is able to foretell the future: “I am God… declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done… Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass” (Isaiah 46:9-11 Isaiah 46:9-11 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executes my counsel from a far country: yes, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
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).

Christ, as God made flesh, was simply bringing to pass what He had foretold. However, if only a typical human being, Jesus would not have been able to fulfill everything foretold about the Messiah.

While the idea might sound intriguing, it’s impossible when you consider what Jesus would actually have had to do. To begin, He would have to have successfully manipulated His own place of birth and His human lineage. He would have to have arranged for His time to be born, so that as an adult He could begin His ministry and arrange for His death all according to the time frame of the prophecy of Daniel 9. On top of that, He would have to have engineered His own miraculous virgin birth.

If this theory had any sense of plausibility, it still would make no sense that Jesus would not fulfill the Jewish expectation of a Messiah who was to come as a king to rule the people at that time. Jesus certainly had that opportunity if He had wanted to become a physical king and leader of the Jewish nation. Many were willing to follow Him and make Him king (John 6:15 John 6:15When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
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; 12:12-19). Instead He took the route that led to His horrible suffering and death.

He accurately fulfilled the prophecies according to the intent of God, but contrary to the common understanding at the time. He became a servant and was willing to give His life as payment for the sins of all (Matthew 20:28 Matthew 20:28Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
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). The character of such a person hardly qualifies Him to be a charlatan and a fake—one who manipulates events for His own benefit.

Fulfillment of prophecy is proof

God, who is able to control all events, caused these prophecies to be written hundreds of years before they were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. As Peter proclaimed, “Those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He [Jesus] has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18 Acts 3:18But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled.
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).

Paul reaffirmed that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” and that “He was buried, and…He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
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).

To accurately foretell these events 200 to 800 years in advance is nothing less than a miracle—one that required divine knowledge and power to bring them to pass as foretold. God doesn’t do things by chance. He knew even from the foundation of the world that His Son would have to come to earth (1 Peter 1:20 1 Peter 1:20Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
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), and He foretold the events of His birth, death and life so we would have firm evidence on which to base our belief.

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