Imagine agreeing over the phone to meet a distant business acquaintance-someone you’ve never met in person-at a large business convention.
“How will I know you?” you ask.
“Well,” your associate says, “I’ll be carrying a black briefcase.”
“That might narrow it down some,” you say, “but not enough.”
“I’m a redhead,” your associate offers.
“That helps,” you answer. Redhead carrying a black briefcase. Still might not be specific enough. “What will you be wearing?”
“A blue blazer. I’ll make sure I’m wearing a name tag.”
“That should do it,” you answer. I’ll just look for a redhead carrying a black briefcase and wearing a blue blazer with a name tag. I should be able to recognize you from a distance, and your name on the tag will seal it.”
Identifying the Deity
Now imagine God, several millennia ago, devising a plan to send his only Son to earth to be born as a human infant. If we could have spoken down the corridors of time, we might have asked, “How will we know him? How will we recognize him as the Messiah, the holy Lamb of God-your acceptable sacrifice for sin?”
God might have responded, “I will cause him to be born as an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16).”
“But,” we might have protested, “Abraham’s descendants will be as numerous as the stars!”
“Then I will narrow it down to only half of Abraham’s lineage, and make him a descendant of Isaac, not Ishmael (Genesis 21:12; Luke 3:23-34).”
“That will help, but isn’t that still an awful lot of people?”
“Let him be born from Jacob’s line, then, eliminating half of Isaac’s lineage (Numbers 24:17; Luke 3:23-34).”
“I will be more specific. Jacob will have twelve sons; I will bring forth the Messiah from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23-33).”
“Won’t that still be a lot of people? We still may not recognize him when he comes.”
“Don’t worry! Look for him in the family line of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1; Luke 3:23-32). And from the house and lineage of Jesse’s youngest son, David (Jeremiah 23:5; Luke 3:23-31). And then I will tell you where he will be born; Bethlehem, a tiny town in the area called Judah (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1).”
“But how will we know which person born there is your Son?”
“He will be preceded by a messenger who will prepare the way and announce His advent (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-2). He will begin his ministry in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-17) and will teach in parables (Psalm 78:2; Matthew 13:34-35), performing many miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; Matthew 9:35).”
“OK, that should help a lot.”
“Oh,” God might have responded, “I’m just getting warmed up. He will ride into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:2; Luke 19:35-37) and will appear suddenly and forcefully at the temple courts and zealously ‘clean house’ (Psalm 69:9; Malachi 3:1; John 2:15-16). In one day I will fulfill no fewer than 28 specific prophecies spoken at least 500 years earlier about Him! Listen to this:
- He will be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Matthew 26:49).
- The price of his betrayal will be 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15).
- His betrayal money will be cast to the floor of my temple (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:5).
- His betrayal money will be used to buy the potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:7).
- He will be forsaken and deserted by His disciples (Zechariah 13:7; Mark 14:50).
- He will be accused by false witnesses (Psalm 35:11; Matthew 26:59-60).
- He will be silent before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12).
- He will be wounded and bruised (Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 27:26).
- He will be hated without a cause (Psalm 69:4; John 15:25).
- He will be struck and spit on (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67).
- He will be mocked, ridiculed, and rejected (Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 27:27- 31; and John 7:5,48).
- He will collapse from weakness (Psalm 109:24-25; Luke 23:26).
- He will be taunted with specific words (Psalm 22:6-8; Matthew 27:39- 43).
- People will shake their heads at him (Psalm 109:25; Matthew 27:39).
- People will stare at him (Psalm 22:17; Luke 23:35).
- He will be executed among ‘sinners’ (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38).
- His hands and feet will be pierced (Psalm 22:16; Luke 23:33).
- He will pray for his persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34).
- His friends and family will stand far off and watch (Psalm 38:11; Luke 23-.49).
- His garments will be divided up and awarded by the casting of lots (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24).
- He will thirst (Psalm 69:21; John 19:28).
- He will be given gall and vinegar (Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:34).
- He will commit himself to God (Psalm 31:5; 23:46).
- His bones will be left unbroken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33).
- His side will be pierced (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34).
- Darkness will come over the land at midday (Amos 8:9; Matthew 27:45).
- He will be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60).
- He will die 483 years after the declaration of Artaxerxes to rebuild the temple in 444 BC (Daniel 9:24).
As a final testimony, on the third day after his death, He will be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31), ascend to heaven (Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:9), and be seated at the right hand of God in full majesty and authority (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3).”
What extraordinary lengths God went to in order to help us identify and recognize His only begotten Son! Jesus fulfilled 60 major Old Testament prophecies-with about 270 additional ramifications-all of which were made more than 400 years before His birth.
This makes a compelling case for Jesus being the one and only person to “take away the sin of the world.” With so many prophecies that have come true, is there any way someone could say Jesus isn’t the Messiah?
The answer is a resounding, “No!” But if you’d like to read more about Messianic prophecies read 55 Old Testament Prophecies About Jesus.
Adapted from “Beyond Beliefs to Conviction” by Josh McDowell, Bob Hostetler and David H. Bellis, and from “The Unshakable Truth” by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell