|Vol. 16 No. 11 November 2014||
Gary C. Hampton
Perhaps the most impressive prophecies concerning the Messiah are those specifically involving His death, burial and resurrection. Many of these are quite detailed, yet Jesus’ life fully fulfilled them!
His triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey was foretold in Zechariah 9:9 and fulfilled in Matthew 21:17. That one of His own disciples would betray Him was foretold in the Psalms (41:9; 55:12-14) and clearly fulfilled by the actions of Judas (John 13:18-30). Additionally, the prophet named the price which would be paid for Jesus and the ultimate use of that price (Zechariah 11:12-13; Note: Jeremiah was sometimes used to describe his work along with the others that followed). Not only did Judas receive the correct amount, but he also threw it down in the Temple, and the Jewish leaders used it to purchase a potter’s field in which the poor could be buried (Matthew 26:14-15; 27:3-10). Zechariah also knew Christ would be forsaken by His disciples (13:7), which, unfortunately, they did (Matthew 26:31, 55-56).
God also knew, and foretold well in advance, that His Anointed would be accused by false witnesses (Psalm 27:12; 35:11). The chief priests and elders examined many false witnesses looking for a basis on which to accuse God’s Son (Matthew 26:57-62; Mark 14:55-61). Further, there can be no doubt that the trials Jesus went through were a complete mockery of justice. The Jewish trial alone violated many of the specific rules for trials among the Jews, such as not being conducted at night. So Isaiah was right when he foretold that Christ’s “judgment” would be taken away (53:8).
It is hard to imagine one being on trial for his life without presenting a defense, but this was exactly what the prophet said would happen (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus made no defense at His trial, but stood like a lamb dumb before its shearers. Jesus had already proven who He was by His actions, so He said nothing in His own defense at the trials (Matthew 26:57-68; 27:11-14; Luke 23:1-11; John 19:1-13).
The Almighty foretold the scourging that would precede the death of Christ, as well as the fact that some would spit in His face (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67-68; 27:26-31). God even revealed, through the Psalmist, that the Messiah would die by crucifixion (22:16)! Likewise, the Father knew the soldiers would gamble for Jesus’ clothing (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24). The singer of Israel knew, through inspiration, that the soldiers would offer Jesus gall and vinegar (Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:34; John 19:28-29). The Omniscient One further told of the cruel mocking Jesus would endure, as well as the fact that His side would be pierced, in lieu of any of His bones being broken (Psalm 22:6-11; 34:20; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 27:39-44; John 19:33-37).
Our Lord’s body should have been placed in a plot among the wicked since He was crucified between two thieves and was accused of blasphemy, which called for a disgraceful burial. However, the Romans let Joseph of Arimathea have the body and place it in his newly hewn tomb. Man may have intended to bury His body with the wicked, but God would not allow it because of His innocence (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60; John 19:38-42).
God also revealed that Jesus would be raised from the dead! “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). Such was the means of Him seeing His seed after being put to death and His body being buried (Isaiah 53:10). Clearly, God was saying the Christ would see children come out of His sacrifice on the cross (Hebrews 2:10-13; 1 Peter 1:22-23; 3:18-22). Isaiah also proclaimed the success Jesus would achieve in His work of bringing many sons to God through the justification which is found in His sacrifice. The entire Book of Acts relates the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy (Isaiah 53:11; Acts 2:38-41; 4:4, 14; 6:1, 7; 8:4-8; etc.).
God’s Messiah was to ascend from the earth, according to Psalm 68:18. If the apostles had been more familiar with the words of the Psalms, they might not have been so amazed when He was taken up from them (Acts 1:9-11).
It is difficult to grasp the power behind so many fulfilled prophecies concerning the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The odds of so many things in specific prophecies coming true is beyond the imagination. For instance, the odds of tossing the 26 letters of the English alphabet into the air and them landing in order are one in 500 million, million, million times! Clearly, there are more than 26 specific prophetic utterances that were fulfilled by Jesus. Their fulfillment in so many specific details gives me every reason to trust the Bible today!