Vol. 4, No. 11
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In Luke 24:13-27, we read of two disciples of Christ on their way to Emmaus. Luke tells us this was the first day of the week (24:1, 13) and that it was the same day that the tomb in which Jesus had been laid following his death was found to be empty (24:3, 13). As they walked, they discussed these events. Along the way, they encountered what they supposed to be a stranger and discussed these matters with him. It is obvious from the response Jesus gave to their account that they expressed an amount of doubt in the testimony of the women that Jesus had risen from the grave and was alive. Notice what they said in verse 21, "we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel" [emphasis mine, NF]. They spoke of their hope in the past tense, "were," indicating that those hopes had died on the cross with Jesus. And even though we cannot hear the manner in which they relayed what the women at the tomb had told them, the doubt in their voices must have been evident for Jesus rebuked them for a lack of faith. This rebuke was given because of a lack of faith in "all that the prophets have spoken." These men should have had no confusion in these matters for the prophets of old had given them great detail concerning these matters. And so, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27).
What a remarkable statement! Jesus was able to show them from writings thousands of years old that the events of his life, death and resurrection were the fulfillment of prophecy. Indeed there is no greater proof, no greater hard evidence, to the inspiration of the Scriptures and the identity of Jesus Christ than the precise fulfillment of ancient prophecy; not just a few vague references with broad interpretations, but multitudes given in great detail. Jesus began with Moses and the prophets (from Genesis to Malachi) in setting these doubtful disciples back on track.
Matthew knew the power of predictive prophecy in proving Jesus to be the Christ. When Matthew wrote his account of Jesus' life and work, his aim was to show the Jews that Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah (Christ). At least nine times, Matthew makes the statement, "that it might be fulfilled," showing that Jesus fulfilled prophecies concerning: the virgin birth of the Christ (Matthew 1:22; Isaiah 7:14); his call out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15; Hosea 11:1); where he would do his work (Matthew 4:14; Isaiah 9:1-2); his healing of the sick (Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 53:4); and his teaching in parables (Matthew 13:35; Psalm 78:2), just to name a few. The Jews had no excuse for not seeing Jesus for who and what he was, just as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had no excuse for their doubt.
Let us look at just one of the many prophecies concerning the Christ. In Psalm 22, we have an example of a very detailed prophecy fulfilled exactly in Jesus. The 22nd Psalm was written by king David, who ruled Israel from 1011-971 B.C., about one thousand years before Christ was born. Yet, in this Psalm, David, looking down through the scope of time, records in great detail the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. Notice the following details:
David quotes the words of Jesus on the cross a millennium before he said them (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46).
David describes the conduct of the onlookers at the cross hundreds of years before their great-grandparents were even born (Psalm 22:7; Matthew 27:39).
Not only their conduct, but the very words they would speak (Psalm 22:8; Matthew 27:43).
David knew the manner in which the Romans would pierce the hands and feet of Jesus (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:35).
He even knew how they would handle the garments belonging to Jesus (Psalm 22:18; Matthew 27:35).
Now some, in order to discount such rock solid proof, may say, "Jesus was only doing what he had to do in order to fulfill what he knew the Old Testament said of the Messiah." Of course, you can immediately see the problem with such thinking. For one, no man hanging on a cross is going to be thinking about what he needs to say and do. All he can know is the tremendous agony of his situation. For another, David does not just tell us what Jesus would do and say but what the people around him would say and do. The Jews did not want to recognize Jesus as the Christ and yet they did exactly what was prophesied concerning their behavior toward the Christ. The Romans had no idea whatsoever of what the Old Testament prophesied of the Christ. They could have cared less about Jewish prophecies and their fulfillment and yet they did exactly what David said they would do a thousand years before they did it. How could David have possibly known that there would be a Roman army in Jerusalem and that it would be their custom to cast lots for the clothing of those they executed? How could he have possibly known that Jesus would be mocked and ridiculed by his own people? How could he, or any of the prophets, have known any of the details they recorded concerning the Christ? The answer is found in 2 Peter 1:21. Not a single one of them spoke from their own knowledge or their "own will," but they were -- every one, moved, or guided, in their writings by the Holy Spirit.
Dear reader, how can such evidence be denied? How can one look into the face of fulfilled prophecy and deny what it declares? Jesus used prophecy to prove who he was (Luke 24:27). The apostles used prophecy to prove who Jesus was (Acts 2:14ff). The New Testament writers used prophecy to prove who Jesus was (Matthew 1:22; 2:15; 2:23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 27:35). And, we can use the more than one hundred detailed prophecies of Jesus Christ to prove that he is who he claimed to be, the Son of God (John 8:24).