Of all the credentials Jesus had to support his claims to be the Messiah and God’s Son, one of the most profound is often overlooked: how his life fulfilled so many ancient prophecies.
The Old Testament, written over a period of a thousand years, contains sixty major messianic prophecies and approximately 270 ramifications that were fulfilled in one person, Jesus Christ. Using the science of probability, we find the chances of just forty-eight of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person to be only 1 in 10157.
The likelihood of these prophecies and ramifications matching up with one man is further complicated by the fact that all these prophecies were made at least four hundred years before he appeared. Some might suggest that these prophecies were written down after the time of Christ and fabricated to coincide with events in his life. Is this possible? No, because the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament was translated around 150–200 BC. This means there is at least a two-hundred-year gap between the recording of the prophecies and their fulfillment in Christ.
The precise lineage of Jesus—from Noah to Shem (Genesis 9 and 10), from Abraham to Isaac (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-8; 17:19-21; 21:12; 22:15-18), from Jacob to Judah (Genesis 28:1-4; 35:10-12; Numbers 24:17), from Jesse to David (Isaiah 11:1-5, NIV; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 23:5)—fulfills God’s prophecies. God even defined the time period that would set this man apart. For example, Malachi 3:1 and four other Old Testament verses require the Messiah to come while the Temple of Jerusalem is still standing (see Psalm 118:26; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 11:13; Haggai 2:7-9).1 This is of great significance when we realize that the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 and has not since been rebuilt. A prophecy dating from 1012 BC also predicts that this man’s hands and feet will be pierced and that he will be crucified (see Psalm 22:6-18; Zechariah 12:10; Galatians 3:13). This description of the manner of his death was written eight hundred years before the Romans used crucifixion as a method of execution.
These are merely three of the hundreds of details that identify Jesus as God’s Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Approximately forty men have claimed to be the Jewish Messiah. But only one—Jesus Christ—appealed to fulfilled prophecy to substantiate his claims, and only his credentials back up those claims.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.Luke 24:27
1. For a more complete discussion of the Daniel 9 prophecy, see Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Nelson, 1999), 197–201.
–Taken from More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell