Jesus in Messianic Prophecy

As we have seen, messianic prophecy are portions of scripture written far in advance, about the events of the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and second coming of Jesus Christ. This is yet another distinguishing characteristic of the Christian faith. For anyone who wishes to seek God, messianic prophecy provides a wealth of hard evidence to support the credibility of the claims of Christ. These prophecies are not opaque, but can be understood by anyone who reads them. Some seem so clearly written about Christ, that one might wonder if the early Christians wrote them after the fact. Yet no critic of scripture places the origin of any the Old Testament book after the birth of Christ.

Consider again a few Suffering Servant passages of Isaiah the Prophet:

“See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. Many were amazed when they saw him – beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about. Who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the LORD's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins – that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave. But it was the LORD's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.” (Isaiah 52:13-53:12 NLT)

Knowing that Isaiah wrote this over 700 years before Christ causes one to pause and consider the gravity of God’s plan of redemption. The entire Old Covenant can be boiled down into two powerful messages. 1) God is Holy and we are failing sinners in a bad relationship with Him. 2) God loves us and is sending a Messiah, who is His Son, to redeem us back into a right relationship with Him.

It’s no wonder that the early disciples, walking in the power of God, were able to reason from the scriptures to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the promised Messiah of Israel.

Consider the experience of one of the early Evangelists named Philip:

“The Holy Spirit said to Philip, "Go over and walk along beside the carriage." Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah; so he asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" The man replied, "How can I, when there is no one to instruct me?" And he begged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." The eunuch asked Philip, "Was Isaiah talking about himself or someone else?" So Philip began with this same Scripture and then used many others to tell him the Good News about Jesus. (Acts 8:29- 35 NLT)

Co-laboring with the Holy Spirit, Philip was supernaturally taken to a high official of Ethiopia who happened to reading Isaiah 53. Philip was able to bring light to the messianic prophecy and lead the man into a new relationship with God through the forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ. Many people begin their pursuit of Christ in the same way, reading the scriptures and finding in them, ample proof that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah.

One day, messianic prophesies for His second coming will be fulfilled. Consider this one from the prophet Zechariah:

“For my plan is to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. "Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.” (Zechariah 12:9-14 NLT)

Not only are there the spoken prophecies of the two comings of Christ, but also the non-verbal picture and story prophecies found in what are known as the types and shadows. The Passover lamb story is one great example among many. The lamb’s blood was shed, and placed on the doorposts of the Israeli families being delivered from Egyptian bondage, so that the judgment coming upon Egypt would pass over every house where the blood was present. The fulfillment is that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who was slain on the Passover to protect all who trust in Him from judgment. All who accept His sacrifice have His blood on the doorposts of their hearts, and will have judgment from God pass over them. (Ex 12; 1 Cor 5:7)

God loves to be sought out and pursued. Then suddenly He turns and pursues His pursuer, like a father who is playfully running from his child, suddenly turns the game around and starts chasing the child. Soon they grab hold in a wondrous loving embrace. (See “The God Chasers” by Tenney)

“Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44-47)