In the sentiment of the holiday season, we are continuing our exploration of the genuine and authentic Jesus that we read of in the Bible in a series of short articles titled, “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?” I hope that these articles will provide you with some talking points in your conversations this holiday season, as many are focused on the Savior of the world.
We have all seen life work in circles. This is often the case with music, specifically country music. It began with Jimmy Rodgers and The Carter Family but then drifted to the Nashville Sound. However, when you thought the origins were lost, many brought the sound around full circle. The Bible comes full circle through fulfilled prophecy. There is no more excellent builder of faith than to see the messianic prophecies of old be fulfilled through the Messiah and mediator of the New Testament, Jesus Christ. Sadly, many man-made prophecies have risen to prominence and are often associated with the divine, such as the prophecies of Nostradamus.
Though he lived from 1533 to 1566 as a famous French astrologer, he supposedly made over 6,000 prophecies; today heralded as accurate predictions of current and future events. However, as you explore such prophecies, you will notice that they are vague in their origin. For example, Nostradamus once predicted, “From on high, evil will fall on the great man.” This is often considered a prediction of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Yet, the ambiguity of such a prediction could be applied to any number of events in the given context, such as the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The difference between man-manufactured prophecies and God-given prophecies is the complex nature of such prophecies. I want to share with you some prophecies that will, hopefully, and prayerfully, strengthen your faith in God and the divinely inspired nature of His word.
Let us consider these prophecies, which provide us with the authentic nature of His death. I would encourage you to open your Bible and experience Christ come full circle yourself:
- He would be crucified (c.f. Psalm 22:13-18). It is commonly held that the Persians invited crucifixion in the 6th century B.C. However, almost 500 years before the invention of crucifixion, David prophesied that crucifixion would be the means of killing Christ by saying, “They pierce my hands and my feet” (c.f., Psalm 22:16). How could this prophesy be explained outside of divine inspiration?
- He would die with criminals (c.f., Isaiah 53:11). Isaiah wrote, in Isaiah 53:11, “…He was numbered with the transgressors.” They wrote this inscription above His head, “The King of the Jews,” then proceeded to crucify two thieves with Him, one who His left and one on His right. Though He was God incarnate (c.f., John 1:11), Jesus was characterized as a common criminal, accused of treason, and worthy of a criminal’s death.
- No bone shall be broken in His body (c.f., Psalm 34:20). In some of his early writings, the prophet David provides us with an example of the incredible detail in messianic prophecy. He wrote, “He protects all his bones; not one is broken.” In sacrificing the Passover lamb under the Old Law, one of the instructions regarding this lamb was not to break its bones (c.f. Numbers 9:12). Jesus was our Passover lamb offered during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (c.f. 1 Corinthians 5:7). Thus, in His sacrifice, to perfectly fulfill the prophecy, no bones were broken in His body (c.f. John 19:36).
While these are only three fulfillments of over three hundred prophecies of the Old Testament, they demonstrate the authentic nature of He who was born of woman (c.f. Gen 3:15 – Galatians 4:4), who was crucified for our transgressions (c.f., Psalm 22:13-18 – Matthew 27:35), and whom would be resurrected on the third day (c.f., Psalm 16:10 – Mark 16:6-7). The prophecies concerning the death of Christ help us distinguish between the end of the thousands who died by way of the cross and the one who died for our sins. These short prophecies provide enough detail that one should come to faith or have their faith strengthened in Jesus.