Last edited on 22/Jan/2021
The Bible’s Answer
The Messiah is a mighty figure who was prophesied many times in the Old Testament as the Saviour of the world, who would descend from the lineage of King David, and whose reign would last forever. Much of the details of his ministry on earth as well as his attributes and roles were foretold by the Prophets of the Old Testament.
According to Jeremiah, he would be a righteous king, who would execute justice and deal wisely, whose name would be called “The LORD is our righteousness”, and who would save God’s people (Jeremiah 23:5–6, ESVUK). The Prophet Micah, said that the Messiah would be a shepherd for his people, who would make them dwell securely, and who would be their peace (Micah 5:4–5). Zechariah said that the Messiah would be humble, that he would preach peace, that he possesses salvation, and that his rule shall be over the whole earth (Zechariah 9:9–10). The Prophet Isaiah foretold that the Spirit of the Lord would be upon him, that he would preach a message of good news to the poor, broken-hearted, and those who are held captive, or in prison (Isaiah 61:1–2). So who exactly is this mighty figure, how is he our Saviour, and are we still waiting for him?
Who Is the Messiah?
According to the Bible, which is the divinely inspired, written Word of God, Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah whom the Old Testament prophets foretold and looked forward to. As a matter of fact, the whole Bible is all about Jesus and what he has done for us; its main message, which is the redemption of humankind, has him at the centre. Firstly, Jesus is the Messiah according to the testimony of his apostles. At the beginning of the Gospel of John, Andrew and Philip told their friends that they had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, right after they met him (John 1:40–41, 45). After spending a few years with Jesus, Peter the apostle gave a bold testimony of who he believed he was in front of all the other apostles:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13–16)
Secondly, Jesus himself claimed to be the Messiah. He did this on a few occasions. One of them was when he stood before the Jewish Sanhedrin, where he was accused of blasphemy based on completely false charges, and condemned to death. The high priest asked whether or not he was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, to which Jesus answered that he was (Mark 14:61–62). Another was while he was talking with a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob:
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25–26)
Thirdly, Jesus is the Messiah because he fulfilled Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. After Jesus was resurrected from death he told his disciples that everything written about him in the whole Old Testament, that is, the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, are fulfilled in him:
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:44–47)
Jesus fulfilled most of the Messianic prophecies in his lifetime and will fulfil the few remaining when he comes again to judge the living and the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20–26). So then, the question now is: are there actually prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament and has he really fulfilled them? The answer is a resounding yes. Because Jesus said that the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms wrote of him, let’s examine some of the prophecies in each of them, and see whether or not he has fulfilled them.
The Old Testament Prophesied Jesus
The Law of Moses
In the Law of Moses, the book of Deuteronomy, Moses wrote what God said concerning the Messiah:
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:18–19)
According to this prophecy, the Messiah will be a prophet like Moses, he will be an Israelite, he will speak everything God commanded him to speak, and whoever refuses to listen to him will be punished. Does Jesus fulfil this prophecy? Yes, he does. Peter the apostle gave his testimony that Jesus is that Messianic prophet whom Moses foretold would come:
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ … 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3:19–23, 26)
Additionally, Jesus said that Moses wrote of him in John 5:46, and that he does nothing on his own authority, but speaks just as the Father taught him, in John 8:28. The Bible also teaches that he whom God has sent, that is, the Messiah, utters the words of God (John 3:34).
Now let’s look at the writings of the Prophets. In the book of Isaiah, he prophesied that the Messiah would suffer and die, and that the Lord would lay on him the iniquity of us all, so that he would make atonement for our sins:
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgement he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Isaiah 53:5–8)
Jesus also fulfilled this prophecy. At the end of his life and ministry, Jesus was crucified and suffered at the hands of lawless people:
So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. (John 19:16–18)
The apostle Peter taught that it was there upon the cross where Jesus bore our sins and provided atonement:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
Furthermore, Philip the apostle explained to a non-Christian that what Isaiah wrote about in chapter 53 was about the good news of Jesus Christ:
Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:32–35)
Now let’s look at the Psalms. King David wrote the following words while looking forward to the Messiah’s resurrection:
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)
Three days after Jesus’ death and burial, as two women called Mary, Jesus’ disciples, arrived at his tomb, an angel met them, and gave them the good news that Jesus rose from the dead:
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:5–7)
Peter later explains that Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecy which David made in the Psalms:
Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:30–31)
Various Other Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus’ Life
There are various other Messianic prophecies which Jesus fulfilled in his lifetime, including, but not limited to, the following.
Jesus was born of a virgin
But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Matthew 1:20–23)
In this passage, Matthew cited the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14.
Jesus took our illnesses and bore our diseases
And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:14–17)
In this passage, Matthew cited the prophecy in Isaiah 53:4.
Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit to proclaim good news
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17–21)
In this passage, Jesus cited the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1–2.
Jesus was struck and his sheep were scattered
And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ (Mark 14:27)
And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. … And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled. (Mark 14:43, 48–50)
In this passage, Jesus cited the prophecy in Zechariah 13:7.
Jesus entered Jerusalem on a young donkey
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (John 12:12–15)
In this passage, John cited the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.
How Is Jesus Our Saviour?
So it’s clear that according to the Bible, including Jesus’ own testimony, that he is the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. But how is he our Saviour? What was it about his life and death that made it possible for us to have eternal life? The Bible says:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16–17)
When Jesus was sent to Earth, his job was to fulfil the Law and all righteousness, which we failed to do through sinning (Matthew 3:15; Matthew 5:17). He did this by living a perfectly sinless life, in full obedience to his Heavenly Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 4:15). Then, in order to take away the guilt of our sins, Jesus took the punishment for our sins in our place, which we deserved (Isaiah 53:10–11; Colossians 2:13–14; 1 Peter 2:24). Because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), this required a perfect, holy sacrifice of infinite value to God the Father. The Messiah is both God and man, distinct from the Father, but one with the Father in nature. The prophet Isaiah said, concerning him:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Therefore, the Messiah alone fits the requirement of being a perfect and holy sacrifice of infinite value. The Bible says:
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10–14)
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, (Colossians 1:20–22)
waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:13–14)
According to Romans 4:22–25, anyone who believes that Jesus has died for all of their sins and that God raised him from the dead will be saved. This is because all who rely on Christ alone for their salvation will receive the forgiveness of sins, and his holiness and blamelessness, so that they will be perfect before him on the day of judgement. This is a gift of the grace of Jesus alone, and not a result of good works (Acts 15:11; Romans 11:6).
How Can We Trust Jesus’ and the Apostles’ Testimonies?
But how can we trust Jesus’ and the apostles’ testimonies? Are they credible witnesses? The facts say yes, they are. We can trust everything Jesus claimed about himself, and the apostles’ testimonies about him, because as has already been noted, God raised him from the dead, and by doing so, he gave his approval that everything Jesus said and did was true and in line with his purpose and will. The Bible says:
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30–31)
The facts of history tell us that Jesus was crucified on a cross in Jerusalem, between two criminals, that he was buried in a tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers, and blocked by a large boulder, and that three days after his burial his women disciples, the twelve, the rest of the disciples, as well as 500 other witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3–8), claimed to have seen him risen from the dead. Furthermore, many of them were even willing to suffer and die for upholding this truth, such as James the brother of John, and Stephen.
Many have tried to offer absurd and simply unrealistic alternatives to the resurrection of Christ, including Jesus somehow escaping from the tomb in his severely injured condition, which was heavily guarded by soldiers and a boulder (Matthew 27:62–66), the disciples stealing his body, which as the Bible records, was actually a lie that the Jewish leaders invented and bribed the Roman soldiers to spread (Matthew 28:11–15), the 500 witnesses somehow having the exact same hallucination, which is impossible, and so on. Therefore, the only reasonable and true explanation is to believe exactly what the Bible says: that Jesus really was raised from the dead. And if Jesus really was raised from the dead, then he is the Messiah, the crucified and resurrected Saviour of the world, who died for your sins on the cross.
Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32–33), and he will come again to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). He alone is the way to eternal life, and all other ways lead to eternal damnation. He alone offers the complete forgiveness of sins, and a restored relationship with God, both now, and forevermore.
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11–12)