Theme: Jesus in Prophecy
The critical issue regarding Jesus of Nazareth is whether or not He was, in reality, the Son of God. If so, nothing matters more than Him; if not, He doesn’t matter at all.
Among the chief proofs of that genuine identity is that He is indeed the one who fulfills all the prophecy of the Old Testament regarding the coming Messiah. Therefore, any adequate understanding of Jesus—even among believers of this present day—demands knowing the Jesus of prophecy.
It’s not possible in this abbreviated format to read all of those prophecies. The Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus have been numbered in excess of 300. Besides, that’s only part of the story. Also of interest—and part of our readings this week—are 1) how the Gospel writers (particularly Matthew) used this fact to build their case for Jesus’ identity, 2) Jesus’ own claims to this fact, and 3) how the apostles and others in the early church used the Old Testament (the Scriptures available to them) to show who Jesus truly was.
Consideration of this remarkable truth should serve to strengthen and deepen one’s faith.
Readings and Introductory Comments:
Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 53
Isaiah is known as the “Messianic” prophet, owing to the number of prophecies about Jesus found in this remarkable book. These are a few of the best known of these.
Luke 4:16-30; Isaiah 62:1-2
In Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, during His first visit there during His ministry, while in a synagogue service He makes the alarming claim to be the fulfillment of one of Isaiah’s prophecies of the coming Messiah. The reception of this claim was less than enthusiastic.
Luke 24:44; Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Psalm 22
When Jesus said that He fulfilled all that was written about Him “in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” He was saying the entire Old Testament spoke of Him (as this was the typical 3-fold division of Hebrew Scripture). We have already seen prophecies of Jesus from the Prophets (specifically Isaiah), here also are prophecies from the Law and Psalms.
Matthew 1:22-23; 2:5-6, 14-15, 17-18, 23; 3:3; 4:14-16; 5:17; 8:16-17; 12:15-21; 13:14-15, 34-35; 21:4-5; 26:56; 27:9-10
The life and ministry of Jesus was—as claimed over and over by Matthew—a matter of fulfillment of what the prophets had prophesied. The most frequently quoted prophet by Matthew, as would be expected, is Isaiah, other fulfilled prophecies come from Micah, Hosea, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and the Psalms.
Acts 3:18-26; 7:35-37; 8:26-35; 10:34-43; 13:15-40; 15:15-18; 26:19-29
As the disciples began fulfilling Jesus’ commission to preach the gospel to every creature, they sought to show that Jesus of Nazareth was truly God’s Son, the prophesied Messiah. Luke records the fact that in their preaching they relied heavily on message of the prophets to accomplish this task. They were showing that the events surrounding Jesus were what “God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets.”
• In what way does Matthew say this prophecy was fulfilled? (Matt. 1:23)
• Upon whose throne would the coming Messiah sit? (v. 7)
• Would the coming Messiah be widely embraced and accepted? (v. 3)
• For what purpose was He pierced and crushed? (v. 5)
• What has the Lord laid upon Him? (v. 6)
• What did Jesus say the people in the synagogue witnessed? (v. 21)
• How well did these people know Jesus? (v. 22)
• In what kind of activities would the Messiah be engaged?
• To what does “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” refer?
• Whom would the coming prophet be like and from among whom would He arise? (v. 18)
• In what setting did Jesus quote from v. 1? (see Matt. 27:46)
• How does John say v. 18 was fulfilled? (see John 19:24)
• What name is prophesied for the coming Messiah and what does it mean? (v. 23)
• How were the chief priests and scribes able to answer Herod’s question as the to the location of the birth of the Christ? (see also vv. 3-4)
• From where would God call His Son? (v. 15)
• Who had prophesied a forerunner for the Messiah?
• From what lands did the prophet say light would dawn and was fulfilled by Jesus’ move to Capernaeum?
• What did Jesus come to do relative to the Law and the Prophets?
• What was Jesus doing that was fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy?
• To whom would the Messiah make proclamation? (v. 18)
• How is the Messiah’s handling of the weak and helpless described? (v. 20)
• For what aspect of Jesus’ ministry did He use Isaiah’s prophecy to explain? (see also v. 13)
• In what role is the Messiah depicted in this prophecy?
• To whom does Matthew attribute this prophecy? Where does it appear to have come from?
• What had God foretold would happen to “his Christ”? (v. 18)
• From where in Isaiah was the Ethiopian reading? (vv. 32-33)
• What about Jesus of Nazareth did “all the prophets” bear witness? (v. 43)
• By what means had God fulfilled what had been prophesied? (v. 33)
• From prophet does James say that salvation coming the Gentiles fulfills? (vv. 16-18)
• Whose words does Paul say that Jesus’ suffering fulfills? (vv. 22-23)
- Is it a viable approach today to prove the identity of Jesus exclusively from Old Testament Scripture?
- How important is the role of fulfilled prophecy in establishing the validity of the Christian faith?
- Matthew extensively relies on fulfilled prophecy to establish his case for Jesus’ identity as God’s Son. This is one of many reasons why the Gospel of Matthew is understood to have been originally written for a Jewish audience (ones who acknowledge the authority of Old Testament Scripture). What other evidences might be used to show that Jesus is God’s Son, particularly with ones who do not view the Bible as authoritative?
“Then he said to the, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” (Luke 24:44)