The following was excerpted from Bill Rudge’s book, Who Is This Jesus?
When tested by the Pharisees and Sadducees who asked for a sign from heaven, Jesus said — “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:2,3).
The “signs of the times” to which Jesus referred were the numerous prophecies concerning the Messiah that had been made hundreds of years before He was incarnated on earth.
Concerning the Messiah’s credentials, Fred Meldau writes in Messiah in Both Testaments — Jesus of Nazareth fulfills all the specifications as to His lineage, His birthplace, and the time of His birth. And is it not most remarkable that within a generation of Christ’s sufferings on the cross the temple was destroyed, the Jewish priesthood ceased to exist, the sacrifices were no longer offered, the Jews’ genealogical records were destroyed, their city was destroyed, and the people of Israel were driven out of their land, sold into slavery, and dispersed to the four corners of the earth! Since those dreadful national judgments fell on Israel it has been utterly impossible for a “Messiah” to come with proper “credentials,” such as the Old Testament demands, and such as Jesus of Nazareth presented.
Rachmiel Frydland was a Jewish man who suffered through the Nazi invasion of Poland and escaped to tell his story of how he came to know Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. He had an extensive knowledge of Jewish Scripture and rabbinic writings. In his book, What the Rabbis Know About the Messiah, Rachmiel Frydland writes — The study of our greatest sages brought them to the conclusion that if the dates in the Scriptures are correct, then Messiah should have come in the first century of our era, or thereabouts. … This conviction was probably based upon passages in the book of Daniel.
It was Daniel’s prophecy that challenged me many years ago to consider the Messiahship of Yeshua the Nazarene. … I learned of Yeshua the Nazarene, who was “cut off” forty years before the Second Temple was destroyed.
Interwoven Throughout Scripture
The messianic prophecies are interwoven throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. A partial list follows which was excerpted from Israel My Glory, a messianic magazine — He was to be of the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4), of Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16), of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Hebrews 7:14), and then of David (2 Samuel 7:12,13; Jeremiah 23:5; Acts 13:23). The Deliverer was to be born at a certain time (Daniel 9:24-27) in a designated city (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4-7); and His birth was to be preceded by the ministry of a forerunner (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:1-3).
His ministry was to commence in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1,2; Matthew 4:12-17,23), but He was also to enter Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-5) where He would possess the Temple (Malachi 3:1; Mark 11:15-18). The Messiah’s ministry was to be punctuated with miracles (Isaiah 35:5,6; Luke 7:21,22); yet He would be despised (Isaiah 49:7; John 7:48; 15:25), rejected by the nation’s rulers (Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42), betrayed by someone close to Him (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18-22), and abandoned for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 26:15).
He would be smitten on the cheek (Micah 5:1; Matthew 27:30), spat on (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30), mocked (Psalm 22:7,8; Matthew 27:31, 39-44), and scourged (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:26-30), yet none of His bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33-36). His body was to be buried with the wealthy (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60) but was to remain uncorrupted (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31) because, shortly after dying, He would rise miraculously from the grave (Psalm 2:7; 16:10; Acts 13:33).
Prophecies in Psalm 22
Psalm 22 is inseparably associated with the crucifixion, not only because the opening words were quoted by Jesus, but because much of the Psalm accurately describes His body condition and emotional experience. Concerning Psalm 22, The Eerdmans Bible Commentary states — The details of Calvary are all so clearly here; mockery (v.8), shame (vv. 13,17), the pain of crucifixion (vv. 14-16) … and the parting of garments (v. 18). All this took place by the agency of those [Romans] who neither knew the Scriptures nor had any interest in fulfilling them, and provides dramatic and unanswerable evidence of the divine inspiration of the Bible and of the faithfulness of God to His Word.
David, who had never seen or heard of such a method of execution, gave a graphic portrayal of death by crucifixion in Psalm 22. Even more interesting is the fact that this was recorded one thousand years before the time of Christ, and hundreds of years before crucifixion ever existed as a form of capital punishment.
The usual Jewish method of execution was stoning, but God in His unique way arranged it so that Rome would be in control to fulfill David’s prophecy concerning the crucifixion. If the Jewish leaders would have had their way, they would have stoned Jesus, but in fulfillment of Scripture, He was crucified.
From Servant to King
Although written 700 years before the time of Jesus, Isaiah 53 is a vivid description of the Messiah’s death as a substitutionary sacrifice. Concerning Isaiah 53, scholar and commentator Adam Clarke states: That this chapter speaks of none but Jesus must be evident to every unprejudiced reader who has ever heard the history of His sufferings and death.
Numerous ancient Jewish sources and rabbis were quoted in a book by Mark Eastman and Chuck Smith entitled The Search for Messiah. Excerpts follow — The evidence speaks for itself. Throughout most of the history of Jewish scholarship many of the highly respected writers of the Talmud and the Midrash (most of whom were leaders of rabbinical academies) shared a common belief. The Messiah would be despised, rejected, suffer by being pierced and ultimately die for the sins of the people.
During our examination of messianic prophecy we found that there were “two veins” of prophecy recognized by the ancient rabbis regarding the life, ministry and destiny of the Messiah. Several prophecies predicted a suffering servant who would die for the sins of the people while others predicted a ruling and reigning Messiah.
Jewish scholars of ancient and modern times have had great difficulty in uniting these two “veins” of prophecy in the life of a single individual. Therefore, early in rabbinical Judaism, we saw that the Messiah was split into two distinct personalities: Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant, and Messiah Ben David, the ruling and reigning Messiah.
Truly, Jesus’ qualifications for the title Messiah are compatible with ancient rabbinical beliefs as well as the scriptures we have examined. The problem of the two “veins” of prophecy are solved when we realize that both missions are achievable by two appearances of one individual. His first appearance would be characterized by humility and suffering, His second appearance in glory and majesty.
Jesus of Nazareth is the only person in history who can bridge this gap and solve this puzzle. The Messiah will come TWICE!
Jesus Fulfilled Messianic Prophecy
The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon, a devout Jew, that he would not die before he would see the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:25,26). Upon seeing the child Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, Simeon took Him in his arms and blessed God saying — Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples (Luke 2:29-31).
While walking to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, two disciples were discussing the events which had recently taken place in Jerusalem. As they talked, Jesus approached and walked with them. The resurrected Christ said to them — “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27).
In Luke 24:44-48, we read of another appearance of the resurrected Christ to several disciples in Jerusalem who were initially frightened, but then were amazed and overjoyed— Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus, it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Both Peter and Paul repeatedly explained to their Jewish brethren that Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy. In Acts 3:17-24, Peter tells the Jews— And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time….And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.
Acts 17:2,3 states — And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
The apostle Paul stood in the audience chamber of Herod the Great’s Caesarean palace before Governor Festus, King Agrippa (considered an authority on the Jewish religion), and prominent men of the city. He boldly declared that the Jewish hope and the Christian message are inseparably related — So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles (Acts 26:22,23).
Let us conclude this article with another quote from The Search for Messiah — We have found a number of very specific requirements that any Messianic candidate must fulfill in order to be taken seriously. And we have been able to support this portrait with the writings of ancient rabbis, men who were among the most respected teachers of their time.
We have seen that various rabbis of the last 2,300 years believed the Messiah was an eternal being who would be the Son of God, born of a virgin, a miracle worker of the line of David, in the city of Bethlehem. Yet he would be mocked, despised and rejected. He would have his hands and feet pierced and die for the sins of the people. And we have found evidence from the Bible that the Messiah would be a physical manifestation of God.
Is our biblical portrait of Messiah fulfilled in Jesus? The answer, according to the people who were eyewitnesses to his life, the people who were willing to suffer horribly for their faith, is an unequivocal yes! Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the biblical view of the Messiah!