|Vol. 16 No. 11 November 2014||
Gary C. Hampton
A simple study of Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy will lead one to a deeper faith in the Bible. The passages discussed below are by no means exhaustive.
The Birth of the Christ
Prophetic accounts of the birth of the Christ are so detailed as to leave no doubt God was behind the writing. In Genesis 3, God told the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel” (verse 15). A partial explanation of how this could be is found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. He wrote, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (7:14). A child born of a virgin would be uniquely the seed of woman. As the angel of the Lord told Joseph, Jesus was that child. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18-25).
God also told man that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The hand of God was obviously involved in Jesus being born in that prophesied city. Mary and Joseph were residents of the city of Nazareth, but Caesar Augustus decreed that all the world should be registered. Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem “because he was of the house and lineage of David,” and Jesus was born while they were there (Luke 1:26; 2:1-7).
The promised Messiah was to be of the tribe of Judah and of the royal line of David (Genesis 49:10; Jeremiah 23:5). God’s prophets likewise said He would be a descendant of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 12:1-3; 21:12; 22:18). Matthew’s record of the genealogy of Jesus clearly shows He was the son of Abraham, Isaac and David, while Luke demonstrates Jesus was of the tribe of Judah (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). The visit by the wise men, which seems so remarkable, was foretold in the Psalms (72:10-15; Matthew 2:1-11). Sadly, God even knew Herod would kill numbers of children in a desperate attempt to eliminate the One who would sit on the throne (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18). Even the time baby Jesus spent in Egypt and the return was foreseen by the Almighty (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:12-15).
The Forerunner of the Christ
God’s spokesmen also looked forward to the ministry of John the Baptist. Malachi reported the Lord would send a messenger before Him to prepare the way. He was to be like Elijah the prophet (3:1; 4:5). Isaiah said he would be like the voice of one crying in the wilderness (40:3). Gabriel told Zacharias that Elizabeth would bear a son who would fulfill that prophecy. Jesus let the disciples know John was the Elijah who was to come (Luke 1:17; Matthew 17:10-13).
The Ministry of the Christ
The nature of Jesus’ ministry was described by Isaiah when he told God’s people the Messiah would cause the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk and the dumb to speak (35:5-6). Obviously, the fulfillment of this came throughout the ministry of our Lord (Matthew 9:27-33; 12:22-23; 15:30; John 5:1-9; 9:1-7). In fact, when men came from John to ascertain whether Jesus was the promised Messiah, He told them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:1-6). Clearly, these things were a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that He would be compassionate, like a shepherd (40:11). The Psalmist also said Jesus would teach with parables (78:1-2; Matthew 13:34-35).
No one could successfully challenge Jesus’ zeal for God’s house (Psalm 69:9). His zeal was demonstrated in His cleansing the Temple (John 2:13-16). The rejection by Jesus’ brothers seems to have been in view in Psalm 69:4-8. There can be no doubt that they did reject Him (John 7:5). However, the Psalmist may have foreseen the rejection by the Jews, who also could be described as the Lord’s brethren (John 1:11; 15:22-25). His rejection by the rulers of the Jews was also known in advance (Psalm 118:22-23; Isaiah 53:1; John 7:45-48; Matthew 21:23-46; John 12:37-43). They should have seen God’s powerful “arm” in the miracles of Jesus, but they chose to attribute those works to the power of the devil (Matthew 12:22-30).
The Christ in Isaiah 53
In speaking of Isaiah 53:2, Shelly wrote on page 26, “The fact that Jesus was a rather rustic person from an unpromising corner of the land who lacked any royal ‘comeliness’ or carnal ‘beauty’ did contribute to prejudice against him and his ultimate rejection by many. (Cf. John 1:46-47).” Jesus also completely fulfilled the words of Isaiah 53:3. He was looked down upon and held in contempt, which is the meaning of the word “despised,” even by the very people He came to save. He experienced all forms of sorrow, such as the death of a close friend, betrayal, desertion by His closest companions and, at last, separation from God (John 1:11; Hebrews 12:3; 2:9-10; 5:8-9; John 11:1-38; Matthew 26:47-50, 56; 27:46). The ministry of Christ was filled with occasions when He dealt with the illnesses and diseases of the people or “grief.” No doubt He also knew a great deal of pain and mental stress from constantly coping with the problems of the people while realizing they were not turning to Him for the most important help of all!