The Old Testament has numerous prophecies that refer to the Messiah. Prophecy, properly understood, is a powerful tool against doubt. In this blog, I rely heavily on the Bible, Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ,” and numerous works by Messianic Jewish authors to understand and give context to the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. It’s all there for us to see if we make the effort to look.
Prophecy is one of our best ways to show that Jesus is exactly who He says He is because the odds of one person fulfilling all of the Old Testament prophecies about Himself are practically incalculable. The more prophecies Jesus fulfilled, the more likely He was the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled them all.
Jesus had no control over the prophecies about Himself. It was said He would be born of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), He would be a descendant of King David (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Joseph and Mary didn’t even arrange this last one. It was completely out of their control, as Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus ordered the first complete census of the entire Roman Empire.
Jesus would not likely go around and arrange prophecies about Himself that would get Him killed. Isaiah 53:3, 5, 12 were written 700 years before He was born. Those verses discuss Him being unpopular with many people, being beaten, and hearing the call for His execution. It does not make sense that He would manipulate those prophecies, considering they resulted in His death. Jesus did nothing wrong, yet He fulfilled prophecies that said He would die for the sins of others. Zechariah predicted that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey and He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, which was the exact amount Judas received from the Pharisees for betraying Jesus. He went on to predict the money would be returned in disgust and used to buy a potter’s field for burials. Do you think the very Pharisees who wanted Jesus crucified would arrange to fulfill three more prophecies?
The Old Testament goes on to say that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would be born of a virgin, perform miracles, bear our sin and suffer in our place, be called “Son of Man” and “God’s Son,” be a willing sacrifice, and be specifically called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. The Old Testament even predicts Jesus’ resurrection. If these names of God and the resurrection seem too “Christian” to accept, consider this. Psalm 22 said that people would cast lots for Jesus’ robe. How could Jesus possibly arrange for the Roman soldiers on His crucifixion detail to do just that? It boggles the mind to picture Jesus struggling with His cross down the Via Della Rosa after suffering a near life-ending beating, then arranging for the same guards to gamble for His robe.
In conclusion, Dr. Peter Stoner, a math professor, along with 600 of his students, used a probability formula to figure the odds of someone fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. The greater the odds, the more likely Jesus was the Messiah. The experiment ended after the team matched just eight prophecies to Jesus. They concluded the odds of fulfilling just those eight was 1 in a hundred million billion. One of my own students looked that number up in class and said it was a 1 with 27 zeros behind it. Bear in mind that Jesus fulfilled ALL the prophecies about the Messiah! Jesus is exactly who He claims to be, our Messiah and Redeemer!
Written by Darren Hansen, Christian Studies Teacher & Christian Studies Department Chair at Rockford Lutheran School