Fishbowl Question – Jesus in the Old Testament?

Last night we dealt with a question posed by one of our students that asked: What prophecies in the Old Testament did Jesus fulfill?

I’ll attach some notes about this with some commentary attached to it. Suffice it to say this was a great discussion on a wide variety of subjects, including the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, the unity of the biblical revelation (ultimately found in Jesus), the trustworthiness of the Gospels, the historicity of the life/death/Resurrection of Christ and their importance in the life of the believer.

We had to draw a distinction on prophecy and fortune telling, because in my opinion this is often too blurry. When we talk about prophecy, many times we think it means “telling the future” and this is certainly a component of it to some extent. But more than that, prophecy from a biblical perspective is promise-fulfillment. When we talk about prophecy in the Bible we’re talking more about a promise God makes and then its eventual fulfillment in some point in history. The difference between this and fortune telling is in 1) Motive and 2) Person. Motive is different because the motive for knowing the future is to be in control and to know what is not known, in essence it’s playing God. Also, the Person is distinct because all prophecy ultimately traces back to God and is by God, for God’s glory. Future telling or fortune-telling is grounded in a 3rd party or for more selfish reasons.

Our main text for this study was 2 Corinthians 1:20 (ESV) – “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” In short, it doesn’t matter if we can count the specific number of prophecies about Jesus, every promise of God finds its fulfillment in Jesus! The entire Bible points to Him, it’s His story, it’s all about Jesus. Jesus is the center point of history, the center point of redemption, the center point of theology, the center point of our experience!

Jesus perfectly fulfills what is called the “Threefold Office” of Prophet, Priest, and King. He’s a prophet because he speaks the Word of God directly. He is a priest because he makes atonement for us, gives Himself as the sacrifice, and is our mediation for access to the Father. He is king because he rules and reigns with perfect justice and righteousness.

Specifically, we looked at 13 distinct prophecies about the coming Messiah that are fulfilled in the person of Jesus.

  1. Born of a Woman (Genesis 3:15) – Jesus will be identified with us as people, He that destroys the Serpent will be one of us; Jesus comes as Adam #2 who is able to do what Adam #1 was not
  2. Born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14) – Supernatural birth that could only be explained by Divine intervention. If Jesus’ dad was a Roman soldier named Larry (as Rob Bell describes as a possibility that does not diminish Jesus’ standing as Christ, which is a huge reason why, among others, I do not use Bell’s writing or Nooma videos in teaching), then all of Christianity is a lie.
  3. Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) – This small town is known as the City of David and is the place the Magi are told where the Messiah would be born. This city is significant because of it keeping the Temple lambs intended for sacrifice (sound familiar?)
  4. Suffering (Isaiah 53) – Messiah would be a “suffering servant” of God who endures great punishment on behalf of another. This divine king would also endure suffering for others, a very difficult concept for Jews to understand
  5. Worldwide Kingdom/Nation (Genesis 12:3) – Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise! In Revelation 7:9f we see this great multitude from every nation united under Christ. Everything gets redefined and re-explained through Jesus! Jesus is the way that every nation is blessed, and we are commanded to go to “all peoples” to proclaim the Gospel.
  6. Throne of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 9:6-7) – Jesus is the heir of David, the one who is the true King
  7. Bringer of Good News (Isaiah 61:1-2) – Jesus comes with Good News! We call this the Gospel – The good news is that the Savior has come and all those who are in Him find salvation, and the entry to this great news is faith!
  8. Enter Jerusalem on Donkey (Zechariah 9:9) – Jesus’ entry on Palm Sunday was powerful imagery, intentional imagery. He comes in as the conquering king in victory, and the Jews in the time would have known exactly Jesus was saying about Himself
  9. No Bones Broken (Exodus 12:46; John 19:33-36) – The Passover lamb in Exodus was not to have any bones broken, and we see in the crucifixion account of Jesus that He died without having a bone in His body broken. Jesus serves as the Passover lamb, that those who are in Him have His blood covering their sin and they are saved just as the Hebrews who killed a lamb and spread the blood on their doorposts were saved from the Angel of Death
  10. Resurrection (Psalm 2:7, 16:10) – Another (along with Virgin Birth) pivotal belief for Christians! If Jesus is still dead, we’re all screwed. We’ve believed a lie, we’re to be pitied above everyone else, and we should just go ahead and “eat drink and be merry.” But Jesus’ death is not the end of the story, He rises again from the dead! Think of Aslan from the Narnia story.
  11. Betrayed by Friend (Psalm 41:9) – Judas selling out Jesus is all part of the plan, and the price of the sellout is given in Zechariah 11:12-13.
  12. Painful Torture (Isaiah 50:6, 52:14) – Jesus is named among the transgressors, meaning He becomes one guilty. God’s hatred of sin and sinners is poured out to Christ in the story of the Passion. What on the surface would appear to be cosmic child abuse is actually one of the most beautiful moments in history. The holiness of God is confronted by the ugliness of sin, and in God’s righteous judgment His wrath is poured out. But who escapes this? You and I… This is why I don’t think Mel Gibson in the movie goes far enough, because you cannot grasp the depth and weight of the anger of God towards sin, in the same way you cannot grasp the love and mercy of God towards us.
  13. Forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1-2) – Why? So that in Christ, we are never forsaken by God. Jesus quotes this verse on the cross, and I believe there are two levels at work. #1 is Jesus’ humanity fully displayed. In this, we see raw emotion poured out by someone who knows exactly what is happening. His Father, who Jesus had enjoyed perfect fellowship with for all eternity, has turned His back on the Son. It’s raw, it’s uncut, and it’s astounding. We often make Jesus into a robotic Superman and forget the fact He experienced hurt, pain, sadness, loss, grief, hunger, etc. #2 is the deeper meaning, Jesus saying that fulfilling a Messianic promise in Psalm 22. Pretty cool stuff huh?

The picture used is from the book Death by Love written by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. Not read it yet but really need to! Highly recommend the Re:Lit library for solid resources and great books of Truth! http://relit.org/

Soli Deo Gloria

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