Why do Christians claim that Jesus is the long-foretold Messiah? We are confident He is the One because Jesus fulfilled almost three hundred Old Testament prophecies, written hundreds and even thousands of years before his birth, that describe his heritage, birth, life, death and resurrection. Here are just a few pertaining to the timing, place, manner, and events surrounding his birth.
Jesus is predicted to descend from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, Jesse and David, and be of the tribe of Judah. See the later chapters of Genesis, Isaiah 11 and Jeremiah 23 for these prophecies. Then read the genealogies in Luke 3 and Matthew 1. Matthew lists Joseph’s ancestors, and Luke is understood to record Mary’s lineage (Joseph being the son-in-law of Heli, and the son of Jacob).
Isaiah proclaimed that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). See chapter one of both Matthew and Luke for a description of the fulfillment. "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,” Matthew tells us, just as Micah had predicted (Micah 5:2) hundreds of years before. He was given rich gifts, as predicted in Psalm 72 and described in Matthew 2.
Even a tragic and evil act by king Herod was predicted. When the magi didn’t go back to him to tell him where they’d found the infant Jesus, Herod flew into a rage and slaughtered all the boys age two and younger in the area around Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). Matthew himself in the next two sentences tells us that this is a fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15.
God is precise. Only one short span of years was available in which the Messiah could be born and die. His birth had to happen before the scepter departed from Judah (see Genesis 49:10), and this happened around 7 A.D. when the Romans took the power to invoke the death penalty away from the Sanhedrin. The Jews themselves realized that this meant the window for the appearance of the Messiah was now closed. But Jesus had already been born.
Malachi 3:1 says “the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple…,” so the temple had to still be standing in Jerusalem. Daniel 9:26 foretells that the Messiah would die, and then the temple would be destroyed. Jesus walked in the temple, was put to death by Romans, and in 70 A.D. the temple was destroyed and has never (yet!) been rebuilt.
Psalm 2:7 says “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” Jews of old knew this passage claimed that the Messiah would be the Son of God. In the New Testament, Jesus’ deity is proclaimed by John the Baptist (John 1:34) and the Apostle Peter (Matthew 16:16), suspected by the Jewish high priest (Matthew 26:63), understood by demons (Mark 3:11), and declared by God himself (Matthew 3:17 and Mark 9:7). The prophecies about Jesus’ birth are only the beginning of how God showed mankind plainly that the Messiah had come, and that His plan was being worked out, just as it still is, step by step, today.
Learn more about the many prophecies Jesus fulfilled in the book below. Merry Christmas!