Many are vaguely aware that Jesus Christ's birth, life and death were prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. But few are aware of the sheer number of prophecies and the astonishingly precise details foretold up to thousands of years in advance.
These provide a powerful confirmation of the accuracy of Bible prophecy.
The Jewish New Testament lists 52 prophecies fulfilled in Christ's birth, life and death as stated in 81 passages in the Old Testament (David Stern, pp. xxv-xxix). In many ways the Old Testament pointed forward to Christ's first and second comings. All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible discusses not only hundreds of specific prophecies, but many events, people, rituals and sacrifices in the Hebrew Scriptures that foreshadowed the life, death, ministry and return of Jesus Christ (Herbert Lockyer, 1973).
What were some of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled? Let's notice a few:
• He would be a descendant of King David (Isaiah:11:1-5; Matthew:1:1, 6).
• He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah:5:2; Matthew:2:1).
• One would precede Him who would announce His coming (Isaiah:40:3, 5; Malachi:3:1; Matthew:3:1-3).
• His own people would reject Him (Isaiah:53:3; John:1:11).
• A friend would betray Him (Psalm:41:9; John:13:18-30).
• The price for His betrayal would be 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah:11:12; Matthew:26:15).
• The 30 pieces of silver would buy a potter's field (Zechariah:11:13; Matthew:27:3-10).
• Wicked people would pierce His hands and feet (Psalm:22:16; Luke:23:33; 24:38-40).
• He would suffer execution but without the breaking of any of His bones (Psalm:34:20; John:19:33-36).
• Others would cast lots for His garments (Psalm:22:18; John:19:23-24).
• He would be buried with the wealthy (Isaiah:53:9; Matthew:27:57-60).
• God would resurrect Him from the grave (Psalm:16:10; Acts:2:30-32).
Jesus Himself could not have controlled how these prophecies were fulfilled. No one can control the circumstances of His own birth, who his ancestors are and where he is born. Nor could He control the actions of others in betraying Him, putting Him to death and laying His body in the unused tomb of a wealthy man. Yet the prophets had written these remarkable details in advance up to 1,000 years earlier, foretelling precise details of Christ's death by crucifixion long before this became common as a method of execution.
The four Gospels abound with accounts of how many messianic prophecies were fulfilled, but Christ's closest followers didn't recognize their fulfillment at the time. Only in hindsight were they able to recognize many prophecies recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures and how they had been fulfilled.
Many prophecies regarding Jesus Christ are yet to be fulfilled. The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists more than 200 prophecies of the Messiah, most of which are yet to come to pass (Barton Payne, 1996, pp. 665-670). Just as the many precise details of Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection came to pass exactly as foretold, so will the many prophecies that relate to His second coming be fulfilled exactly as spelled out in God's Word.
To learn more, download or request your free copy of our booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story .