Last week we looked at the first four prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus, and this week we want to continue in that study.
Ministering to the Poor and Needy
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1,2).
In the early part of His ministry, Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day and read this prophecy. Upon finishing, He closed the book, gave it to the minister, and sat down. As all eyes turned to Him, He said: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21).
The years that followed demonstrated the truth of His statement. The poor and needy came to Him and He received them. Lepers were cleansed. The blind were given sight. Lame men walked. Grieving people had loved ones restored to life, Even little children were not overlooked; He laid His hands on them and prayed for them.
The Messiah was a man of compassion, seeing people as sheep without a shepherd and longing to gather them to Himself as a hen gathers her chicks when sheltering them from danger. The rich and self-righteous were often bitter about His holy life and resented His authority in preaching, but the common people heard Him gladly.
He is despised and rejected of men… (Isaiah 53:3).
Desire sometimes colors judgment. Prophecies concerning the Messiah should have prepared the people both for His suffering and for His earthly kingdom of peace and justice. But the majority of Jews thought only of the glories of the messianic reign and the benefits it would bring to Israel.
Ignoring prophecies concerning the Messiah’s meekness and mercy and concentrating only on His might and power, Jewish leaders formed a picture of the Promised One that did not fit the gentle Jesus who went about ministering to the sick and taking time for little children. Their dreams of liberation and political power caused them to be blind to the total message of their prophets about the Messiah.
When He came:
They despised Him.
They taunted Him with questions, hoping to embarrass Him publicly.
They incited the people to riot and persuaded them to attempt His murder by stoning.
They slandered Him with subtle comments about His virgin birth.
They mocked His claims to deity and demanded He show some sign of His authority.
They attributed His miracles to the devil.
Finally, they collaborated with one of His disciples to betray him for thirty pieces of silver, another fulfillment of prophecy:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
The suffering and death of Christ should not have come as a surprise to those who awaited the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah referred to Him as a lamb brought to the slaughter.
He also described the suffering and shame the Messiah would be subjected to just before His death on the cross: “I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).
This same prophet wrote of the silence of the Savior before His persecutors and revealed that His grave would be with the wicked and the rich. Jesus was crucified between two thieves and buried in the tomb of the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea. Isaiah described the death of Christ and explained its significance seven hundred years before it took place.
Daniel foresaw the Messiah’s death and prophesied that He would be “cut off, but not for himself” (Dan. 9:26).
Zechariah wrote of the piercing of Jesus’ body and said He would receive wounds in His hands:
“…and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced…” (Zech. 12:10).
“And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zech. 13:6).
Perhaps the most remarkable prophecy having to do with the Messiah’s death is David’s description of crucifixion given in Psalm 22. Here the coming death of Christ on a cross is depicted about eight hundred years before that method of execution was used by the Romans. The Jews knew nothing of crucifixion at that time; capital punishment was carried out by stoning.
Beginning with the very words the Messiah would cry from the cross (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”), this Psalm accurately expresses the agonies of that awful death. In his book, Christ in the Psalms, the late Dr. William Pettingill calls Psalm 22 the “Psalm of Sobs,” saying it is a picture of our Lord’s crucifixion written a thousand years before the event.
The footnote given in the New Scofield Reference Bible on Psalm 22 is excellent:
Psalm 22 is a graphic picture of death by crucifixion. The bones (of the hands, arms, shoulders, and pelvis) out of joint (v. 14); the profuse perspiration caused by intense suffering (v. 14); the action of the heart affected (v. 14); strength exhausted, and extreme thirst (v. 15); the hands and feet pierced (see v. 16); partial nudity with the hurt to modesty (v. 17), are all associated with that mode of death. The accompanying circumstances are precisely those fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ…
But the crucifixion was not the end, as we cover see in our next newsletter.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE