In Part 1 of this series, we took a look at the historical perception of Jesus among theologians, scholars, and historians alike. We did this in order gain a holistic view of the basic knowledge that most people have about Jesus. We learned that He was a man who lived 2,000 years ago, who claimed to be divine and changed the world through His followers after His death. But who was He, really? What did He teach? What did He do?
We said that in order to answer these questions, we must take a look at the eyewitness accounts of those who knew Him best- His closest friends. Thankfully these documents have been faithfully recorded, handed down, and translated through many generations, producing an English text that is 99.9% accurate when compared to the original documents.
But, we will dive into those accounts in the next post. For now, I want to take a look at what was written about Jesus before the New Testament…what was written about Him even before He was born!
These writings about Jesus before His birth are called “prophecies,” and they are recorded in the Old Testament. In biblical times, if a “prophet” was truly sent of God, then what He said would come true. Many of these prophets (most writing about 600-1200 years before Jesus birth) spoke about a coming Messiah (a savior) that would save their nation, Israel. In fact there are over 353 of them!
Here are 13 of them: (Remember, all of these were written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth!)
- The Messiah would be born of a virgin woman in Bethlehem
- The Messiah would come from the line of Abraham
- The Messiah would have His hands and feet pierced
- The Messiah would be crucified with criminals
- The Messiah would be forsaken by God
- The Messiah would be betrayed and falsely accused
- The Messiah would be mocked a ridiculed
- The Messiah would pray for His enemies
- The Messiah would resurrect from the dead
- The Messiah would ascend into Heaven
- The Messiah’s throne would be anointed and eternal
- The Messiah would be called King
- The Messiah would sit at the right hand of God
- The Messiah would be declared the Son of God
- The Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin
All of the above were written about in the Old Testament, and then fulfilled by Jesus life (and then recorded in the New Testament). This is one of the biggest proofs that Jesus was who He said He was…He fulfilled all 353 of these prophecies. The “chance” of Him doing this could be equated to covering all of Texas in 3 feet deep in silver quarters, with only ONE red quarter, and then going to somewhere in Texas blindfolded and trying to select the red one with only one attempt. It simply cannot be by chance! Jesus was the foretold Messiah!
All of these prophecies pointed to Him as the Messiah, as someone that would save Israel by being a sacrifice for their sins. In order to be “right” with God, Israel had to continually sacrifice lambs, goats, bulls, doves, food, and other things to cleanse themselves of their sins and receive forgiveness from God. But now, Jesus would become the true and final sacrifice, available to all who would accept Him.
Now we are a little farther in our understanding of the true Jesus- the Messiah foretold by the Old Testament prophets. In the next post, we will examine His entrance into the world, the starting point to His life here on earth.
**For all of the scripture references to the prophecies, their place in the OT, and their fulfillment in the NT, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org