History is full of men who have claimed that they came from God, or that they were gods, or that they bore messages from God – Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Christ, Lao-tze, and thousands of others who founded their own religions. Why is Jesus unique amongst all these people? One answer is His pre-announcement. Even automobile manufacturers tell their customers what to expect in a new model. If God sent anyone from Himself, or if He came Himself with a vitally important message for all men, it would seem reasonable that He would first let men know when His messenger was coming, where He would be born, where He would live, the doctrine He would teach, the enemies He would make, the program He would adopt for the future, and the manner of His death. By the extent to which the messenger conformed to these announcements, one could judge the validity of his claims.
There were no predictions about Buddha, Confucius, Lao-tze, Mohammed, or anyone else; but there were predictions about Christ. Others just came and said, “Here I am, believe me.” Jesus challenged the people to search the Scriptures for themselves to see what it has to say about Him.
John 5:39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.
Which other person in history has a whole series of books written about them BEFORE he was born? If any one of these men actually came from God, the least thing that God could do to support His claim would be to pre-announce His coming. If God did not do this, then there would be nothing to prevent any imposter from appearing in history and saying, “I come from God,” or “An angel appeared to me in the desert and gave me this message.” In such cases there would be no objective way of testing the messenger. We would have only his word for it, and of course he could be wrong.
The Old Testament books in the Bible (all of them written between 1450 BC and 430 BC) contained hundreds of prophecies about a Messiah, which means the “anointed one”, who would arrive in their future. Below is the list of some of these Messianic Prophecies.
|Born of a virgin||Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.||Matthew 1:18, 22-25 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. . . . . All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”– which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.|
|Born In The City Of Bethlehem||Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”||Matthew 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem|
|Ministry Characterized By Miracles||Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”||Matthew 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.|
|Enter Jerusalem On A Donkey’s Colt||Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.||Luke 19:35-37 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:|
|The Messiah would begin His ministry in Galilee||”In the former time, the Lord brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He will make it glorious, by the way of the sea of Galilee, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of intense darkness and the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined” (Isaiah 9:1b-2).||”(Jesus) withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth He went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the country of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah might be brought to pass” (Matthew 4:12b-14).|
|The Messiah would be a miracle-worker||”Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing for joy; for waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:5-6).||(They) asked Him, are You He Who was to come, or should we keep on expecting a different one? And Jesus replied to them, Go and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed (by healing), and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news (the Gospel) preached to them” (Matthew 11:3-5).|
|The Messiah Would be Rejected by His people||”He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men…He was despised and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him” (Isaiah 53:3).||”He came to that which belonged to Him–to His own (domain, creation, things, world)–and they who were His own did not receive him and did not welcome Him” (John 1:11).|
|The Messiah would suffer greatly||”A man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief…oppressed and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3,7)||”…He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed. Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow…” (Matthew 26: 37b-38a).|
|The Messiah would be praised while riding the colt of a donkey.||”Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your King comes to you; He is (uncompromisingly) just, and having salvation–triumphant and victorious; patient, meek, lowly, and riding on a donkey, upon a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).||”The next day a vast crowd of those who had come to the Passover Feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. And as they went, they kept shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is He and praise to Him Who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! And Jesus, having found a young donkey, rode upon it (just) as it is written in the Scriptures, Do not fear, O daughter of Zion! Look! Your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt” (John 12:12-15).|
|The Messiah would be sold for thirty pieces of silver||”And the Lord said to me, Cast it to the potter (as if He said, To the dogs!), the munificently miserable sum at which I (and My shepherd) am priced by them! And I (Zechariah) took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord” (Zechariah 11:13).||”And casting the pieces of silver (forward) into the holy place of the sanctuary of the temple, he (Judas) departed and went off and he hanged himself. But the chief priests, picking up the pieces of silver, said, It is not legal to put these in the (consecrated) treasury, for it is the price of blood. So after consultation they bought with them the potter’s field in which to bury strangers” (Matthew 27:5-7).|
|The thirty pieces of silver would be returned for a potter’s field.||”And the Lord said to me, Cast it to the potter (as if He said, To the dogs!), the munificently miserable sum at which I (and My shepherd) am priced by them! And I (Zechariah) took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord” (Zechariah 11:13).||”And casting the pieces of silver (forward) into the holy place of the sanctuary of the temple, he (Judas) departed and went off and he hanged himself. But the chief priests, picking up the pieces of silver, said, It is not legal to put these in the (consecrated) treasury, for it is the price of blood. So after consultation they bought with them the potter’s field in which to bury strangers” (Matthew 27:5-7).|
|The Messiah would be silent before his accusers||”He was oppressed, yet when He was afflicted He was submissive and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).||”But when the charges were made against Him by the chief priests and the elders, he made no answer…He made no reply to him, not even to a single accusation, so that the governor marveled greatly…” (Matthew 27:2,14).|
|The Messiah would be whipped on the back||”I gave My back to the smiters…” (Isaiah 50:6)||”So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, set Barabbas free for them; and after having whipped Jesus, he handed (Him) over to be crucified” (Mark 15:15).|
|The Messiah would be killed alongside the guilty||”And they assigned him a grave with the wicked…and He let Himself be regarded as a criminal and be numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:9a,12b).||”And with him they crucified two robbers, one on (His) right hand and one His left. And the scripture was fulfilled which says, He was counted among the transgressors” (Mark 15:27-28).|
|The Messiah would pray for His persecutors||”He…made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).||”And Jesus prayed, Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).|
|The Messiah would be buried with the rich.||”And they assigned Him a grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death…” (Isaiah 53:9).||”When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus, and Pilate ordered that it be given him. And Joseph took the body and rolled it up in a clean linen cloth used for swathing dead bodies, and laid it in his own fresh (undefiled) tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a big boulder over the door and went away (Matthew 27:57-60).|
Implications of these prophesies
The science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students.
The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances that might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students.
However Professor Stoner then took their estimates, and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair. Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented (Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 4).
After examining only eight different prophecies, they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 1000000000000000000. That is 10 to the power of 17 zeros.
Couldn’t anyone else have fulfilled these prophecies if they really tried? You will notice that many of the prophecies are not under human control. In other words, if someone tried to fulfill all of them, how would they arrange to be (1) born in Bethlehem (2) with a virgin for a mother? Already they would have a problem—and these are only two prophecies. There are other prophecies that are not under Jesus’ control – how He was to die and buried, etc.