Prayers – The Lord’s Prayer – Jesus Teaching on Prayer – The High Priestly Prayer – Jesus Prays for All Believers

Prayers-The-Lord’s-Prayer-Jesus-Teaching-on-Prayer-The-High-Priestly-Prayer-Jesus-Prays-for-All-Believers

The Lord’s Prayer

This, then, is how you should pray:“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

—Matthew 6:9-13

When you pray, say: “Father hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.”
—Luke 11:2-4

Jesus Teaching on Prayer

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

—Matthew 6:5-8

Prayer of Praise
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”

—Matthew 11:25-26

Prayers During the Raising of Lazarus

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing
here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

—John 11:41-42

Prayer in Gethsemane

“Abba, Father,” Jesus said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

—Mark 14:36

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

—Matthew 26:39, 42

The High Priestly Prayer

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

—John 17:1-5

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.”

—John 17:6-11

“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.”

—John 17:11-12

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

—John 17:13-19

Jesus Prays for All Believers

“My prayer is not for them alone. I prayalso for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

—John 17:20-21

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

—John 17:22-23

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

—John 17:24

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and
will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

—John 17:25-26

Prayers from the Cross
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they aredoing.”

—Luke 23:34

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”(which means “My God, my God, why have you for saken me?”).

—Matthew 27:46

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
—Luke 23:46

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

—James 5:16

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Billy Graham’s Last Crusade: America Actually 58th Country To Host ‘My Hope’ 2013 Christianity – In Memory of Billy Graham

Billy Grahams Last Crusade America Actually 58th Country To Host My Hope. American Evangelist. Evangelist of Our Time

Billy Graham’s Last Crusade: America Actually 58th Country To Host ‘My Hope’

Highlights from new crusade format that focuses on filling living rooms worldwide instead of stadiums.

Billy Graham will celebrate his 95th birthday this Thursday in appropriate fashion, launching his largest-ever and likely last crusade.

More than 28,000 churches have pledged their involvement in “My Hope America with Billy Graham,” an event which pivots from the evangelist’s famous stadium-filling events to living rooms nationwide.

Based on Matthew 9:9-10, “My Hope” encourages Christians to invite non-Christian friends into their homes to watch a TV program featuring Graham. The video will feature clips of past sermons as well as a new message Graham has prepared—possibly his last.

However, this is not the first time the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has held the “My Hope” campaign. In fact, America is one of the last places to host the program.

The televised campaign—instituted through churches—has reached 57 countries since 2002, with more than 298,000 churches participating and more than 4.4 million Christians.

This editorial originally appeared in the November 18, 1988 issue of Christianity Today.

History will remember Billy Graham as the world’s greatest missionary-evangelist. No other person has preached the gospel face-to-face to so many—over 100 million. No other person has led so many to make explicit spiritual decisions, usually to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—over two million. And no other person has traveled to so many countries to preach the gospel—more than 65.

How could it ever have happened? How could a shy country boy from the foothills of North Carolina sway millions and stand before kings?

Some have suggested that, at root, Billy Graham is a supreme opportunist. At a crucial point in Los Angeles in his early ministry, media tycoon William Randolph Hearst ordered his chain of newspapers to “Puff Graham.” The media took over and created Billy Graham, his evangelistic career, and its worldwide success—or so the story goes.

However, Billy Graham’s own answer to this puzzle is “the hand of God.” The Spirit of God fell on this unpromising material and called him to be an evangelist. And who can deny the evangelist is right? From the very first, Graham’s unswerving purpose has been to carry the message of the gospel to all the world-to everyone everywhere by whatever means—so that some might be saved from the guilt and burden of their sins and others aroused and strengthened to live obedient and useful lives for the glory of God. From that goal, he has never deviated.

In his early mission, no doubt the heavy hand of William Randolph Hearst was laid upon him and gave him welcome advertising in his attempts to reach a wider public hearing.

Is Billy Graham an Evangelical?

Grant Wacker’s comprehensive portrait displays the tension between ‘America’s pastor’ and ‘evangelicalism’s architect.’

Writing about Grant Wacker’s America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation as a managing editor of Christianity Today is at once a daunting and complicated task. Graham founded this magazine. His portrait greets me every time I come in the building. I have on my wall a 1956 copy of his “Christianity Today Statement of Policy and Purpose.” On my desktop is a special 128-page issue on Graham’s life and legacy I put together years ago, ready to publish “at some point in the future,” as we euphemistically told our writers (several of whom Graham has now outlived).

So if Wacker calls himself “a partisan of the same evangelical tradition Graham represented,” I don’t quite know what that makes me—a fanatic of that tradition?

Wacker, who is about to retire from his position at Duke Divinity School as one of the preeminent historians of American religion, begins his book by warning that it’s “not a conventional biography. Numerous studies of Graham’s life or aspects of it already grace the shelves of public libraries, and many of them are excellent. My aim is different. I try to step back and ask another question: Why does Graham matter?”

Likewise, I won’t offer a conventional review, except to say that it is required reading for anyone seriously interested in evangelicalism, 20th-century American history, or the sociology of religion. If you want Graham’s life story, you may be better off with William Martin’s 1991 authorized (but honest) biography, Prophet with Honor. That volume is twice as long, and an updated version is due out “at some point in the future.”

Has Billy Graham Suddenly Turned Political?

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) launched a major ad campaign last week encouraging Americans to “vote for biblical values” this November.

The ads convey one of two messages from evangelist Billy Graham:

The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.

Or:

On November 6, the day before my 94th birthday, our nation will hold one of the most critical elections in my lifetime. We are at a crossroads and there are profound moral issues at stake. I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms. The Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues. Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn our hearts back toward God.

The ad campaign is the latest in a series of public statements this year that have prompted questions on whether they truly reflect Billy Graham’s concerns or whether they were initiated by his son Franklin Graham, who has been more outspoken than his father on political matters in recent years.

Earlier in the week, the BGEA removed an articlelisting Mormonism as a “cult” from its website.

More than 50 years ago—it was in 1953—Billy Graham awoke at 2 A.M. with dreams for a magazine. “Trying not to disturb Ruth,” he wrote in his autobiography, “I slipped out of bed and into my study upstairs to write. A couple of hours later, the concept for a new magazine was complete. I thought its name should be Christianity Today.” Billy used that document to recruit board members and staff and to raise the necessary resources. The first issue was distributed in October 1956 to more than 200,000 pastors and church leaders.

Twenty-five years ago, we published CT’s 25th anniversary issue, with Billy on the cover. Our founder responded to questions with lively, incisive insights.

This summer, in CT’s 50th anniversary year, we were to meet with Billy again. We anticipated less lively repartee on evangelical currents and world events this time. On the plane to North Carolina, Christianity Today International (CTI) president Paul Robbins and I read Newsweek‘s August 14 cover story, “Billy Graham in Twilight.” Yet he had preached earlier in the summer in Baltimore and, before that, in his “final” New York City crusade.

Our car climbed up a steep, narrow road over the multiple folds of rugged Blue Ridge woodlands to his mountaintop home. As we pulled up, three dogs gazed lazily at us. Inside the modest log home, we soon saw Billy’s tall, lanky form moving slowly toward us down a long hall. His warm welcome matched his sunny smile.

The day before, Billy told us, he’d felt a great deal of pain, but today he was much better. “Everything is nostalgia now,” he said, explaining that he is largely isolated.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
-Colossians 4:6 (NIV)

For as long as I can remember, Billy Graham has been part of our family. Not in a literal sense, of course, since my father grew up in Minnesota while Billy Graham was raised in the South. Yet, God chose to weave their lives together—calling both to the work of evangelism, giving both the privilege of introducing tens of thousands of men and women to Jesus Christ, and planting in both an enduring friendship. Drawn together during the 1940s through the ministry of Youth for Christ, Billy Graham, Merv Rosell, and a small cadre of gifted young evangelists—sharing not only sermons and songleaders but also long seasons of prayer and a growing sense of awe at what God was doing through them—became the surprising leaders of what the editor of United Evangelical Action would by 1952 be calling “one of the greatest outpourings of the Spirit in the nation’s history.”

Those powerful midcentury revivals, marked by the large evangelistic crusades that swept through scores of American cities during the late 1940s and early 1950s, not only swelled the ranks of a resurgent evangelical movement, but they also helped to make Billy Graham the best known and most respected leader of our century. With Billy Graham’s new prominence, however, came increasing criticism. Old friends as well as new enemies began to voice concerns about everything from his theology to his style of preaching.

AMERICA may be a nation of believers, but when it comes to this country’s identity as a “Christian nation,” our beliefs are all over the map.

Just a few weeks ago, Public Policy Polling reported that 57 percent of Republicans favored officially making the United States a Christian nation. But in 2007, a survey by the First Amendment Center showed that 55 percent of Americans believed it already was one.

The confusion is understandable. For all our talk about separation of church and state, religious language has been written into our political culture in countless ways. It is inscribed in our pledge of patriotism, marked on our money, carved into the walls of our courts and our Capitol. Perhaps because it is everywhere, we assume it has been from the beginning.

But the founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation. Our grandfathers did.

Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.

The two had been described as soul mates before, but in this campaign they were wedded in pointed opposition to the “creeping socialism” of the New Deal. The federal government had never really factored into Americans’ thinking about the relationship between faith and free enterprise, mostly because it had never loomed that large over business interests. But now it cast a long and ominous shadow.

Accordingly, throughout the 1930s and ’40s, corporate leaders marketed a new ideology that combined elements of Christianity with an anti-federal libertarianism. Powerful business lobbies like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers led the way, promoting this ideology’s appeal in conferences and P.R. campaigns. Generous funding came from prominent businessmen, from household names like Harvey Firestone, Conrad Hilton, E. F. Hutton, Fred Maytag and Henry R. Luce to lesser-known leaders at U.S. Steel, General Motors and DuPont.

In a shrewd decision, these executives made clergymen their spokesmen. As Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew noted, polls proved that ministers could mold public opinion more than any other profession. And so these businessmen worked to recruit clergy through private meetings and public appeals. Many answered the call, but three deserve special attention.

The Rev. James W. Fifield — known as “the 13th Apostle of Big Business” and “Saint Paul of the Prosperous” — emerged as an early evangelist for the cause. Preaching to pews of millionaires at the elite First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, Mr. Fifield said reading the Bible was “like eating fish — we take the bones out to enjoy the meat. All parts are not of equal value.” He dismissed New Testament warnings about the corrupting nature of wealth. Instead, he paired Christianity and capitalism against the New Deal’s “pagan statism.”

Through his national organization, Spiritual Mobilization, founded in 1935, Mr. Fifield promoted “freedom under God.” By the late 1940s, his group was spreading the gospel of faith and free enterprise in a mass-circulated monthly magazine and a weekly radio program that eventually aired on more than 800 stations nationwide. It even encouraged ministers to preach sermons on its themes in competitions for cash prizes. Liberals howled at the group’s conflation of God and greed; in 1948, the radical journalist Carey McWilliams denounced it in a withering exposé. But Mr. Fifield exploited such criticism to raise more funds and redouble his efforts.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Abraham Vereide advanced the Christian libertarian cause with a national network of prayer groups. After ministering to industrialists facing huge labor strikes in Seattle and San Francisco in the mid-1930s, Mr. Vereide began building prayer breakfast groups in cities across America to bring business and political elites together in common cause. “The big men and the real leaders in New York and Chicago,” he wrote his wife, “look up to me in an embarrassing way.” In Manhattan alone, James Cash Penney, I.B.M.’s Thomas Watson, Norman Vincent Peale and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia all sought audiences with him.

In 1942, Mr. Vereide’s influence spread to Washington. He persuaded the House and Senate to start weekly prayer meetings “in order that we might be a God-directed and God-controlled nation.” Mr. Vereide opened headquarters in Washington — “God’s Embassy,” he called it — and became a powerful force in its previously secular institutions. Among other activities, he held “dedication ceremonies” for several justices of the Supreme Court. “No country or civilization can last,” Justice Tom C. Clark announced at his 1949 consecration, “unless it is founded on Christian values.”

The most important clergyman for Christian libertarianism, though, was the Rev. Billy Graham. In his initial ministry, in the early 1950s, Mr. Graham supported corporate interests so zealously that a London paper called him “the Big Business evangelist.” The Garden of Eden, he informed revival attendees, was a paradise with “no union dues, no labor leaders, no snakes, no disease.” In the same spirit, he denounced all “government restrictions” in economic affairs, which he invariably attacked as “socialism.”

In 1952, Mr. Graham went to Washington and made Congress his congregation. He recruited representatives to serve as ushers at packed revival meetings and staged the first formal religious service held on the Capitol steps. That year, at his urging, Congress established an annual National Day of Prayer. “If I would run for president of the United States today on a platform of calling people back to God, back to Christ, back to the Bible,” he predicted, “I’d be elected.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled that prediction. With Mr. Graham offering Scripture for Ike’s speeches, the Republican nominee campaigned in what he called a “great crusade for freedom.” His military record made the general a formidable candidate, but on the trail he emphasized spiritual issues over worldly concerns. As the journalist John Temple Graves observed: “America isn’t just a land of the free in Eisenhower’s conception. It is a land of freedom under God.” Elected in a landslide, Eisenhower told Mr. Graham that he had a mandate for a “spiritual renewal.”

Although Eisenhower relied on Christian libertarian groups in the campaign, he parted ways with their agenda once elected. The movement’s corporate sponsors had seen religious rhetoric as a way to dismantle the New Deal state. But the newly elected president thought that a fool’s errand. “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,” he noted privately, “you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” Unlike those who held public spirituality as a means to an end, Eisenhower embraced it as an end unto itself.

Uncoupling the language of “freedom under God” from its Christian libertarian roots, Eisenhower erected a bigger revival tent, welcoming Jews and Catholics alongside Protestants, and Democrats as well as Republicans. Rallying the country, he advanced a revolutionary array of new religious ceremonies and slogans.

The first week of February 1953 set the dizzying pace: On Sunday morning, he was baptized; that night, he broadcast an Oval Office address for the American Legion’s “Back to God” campaign; on Thursday, he appeared with Mr. Vereide at the inaugural National Prayer Breakfast; on Friday, he instituted the first opening prayers at a cabinet meeting.

The rest of Washington consecrated itself, too. The Pentagon, State Department and other executive agencies quickly instituted prayer services of their own. In 1954, Congress added “under God” to the previously secular Pledge of Allegiance. It placed a similar slogan, “In God We Trust,” on postage that year and voted the following year to add it to paper money; in 1956, it became the nation’s official motto.

During these years, Americans were told, time and time again, not just that the country should be a Christian nation, but that it always had been one. They soon came to think of the United States as “one nation under God.” They’ve believed it ever since.

In Memory and Honor of Billy Graham. Resource ChristianityToday. Copyright.

This text is for the Memory of Billy Graham The Greatest Evangelist. Photo and text Copyrighted on ChristianityToday The Great Evangelistical Site

We made this article in memory of Biily Graham. Copyright New York Times

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Jesus Christ Videos – Parables of Jesus – Parable of the Sower – Matthew 13 Amplified Bible (AMP) Jesus Teaching in Parables. Bible Proven Movie

Jesus Christ Videos - Parables of Jesus - Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13Amplified Bible (AMP)

Jesus Teaches in Parables

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting beside the sea [of Galilee]. But such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat there [positioning Himself as a teacher], while the whole crowd stood on the shore.

He told them many things in “Listen carefully: a sower went out to sow [seed in his field]; and as he sowed, some seed fell beside the road [between the fields], and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil; and at once they sprang up because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and thorns came up and choked them out. Other seed fell on good soil and yielded grain, some a hundred times as much [as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty. He who has ears [to hear], let him hear and heed My words.”

An Explanation

10 Then the disciples came to Him and asked, “Why do You speak to the crowds in parables?” 11 Jesus replied to them, “To you it has been granted to know the 12 For whoever has [spiritual wisdom because he is receptive to God’s word], to him more will be given, and he will be richly and abundantly supplied; but whoever does not have [spiritual wisdom because he has devalued God’s word], even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 This is the reason I speak to the crowds in parables: because while [having the power of] seeing they do not see, and while [having the power of] hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand and grasp [spiritual things]. 14 In them the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

You will hear and keep on hearing, but never understand;
And you will look and keep on looking, but never comprehend;
15 
For this nation’s heart has grown hard,
And with their ears they hardly hear,
And they have [tightly] closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart, and turn [to Me]
And I would heal them [spiritually].’

16 But blessed [spiritually aware, and favored by God] are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, many prophets and righteous men [who were honorable and in right standing with God] longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Sower Explained

18 “Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [regarding salvation] and does not understand and grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and at once welcomes it with joy; 21 yet he has no [substantial] root in himself, but is only temporary, and when pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away [abandoning the One who is the source of salvation]. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.”

Weeds among Wheat

24 Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the weeds appeared also. 27 The servants of the owner came to him and said, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have weeds in it?’ 28 He replied to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Then do you want us to go and pull them out?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; because as you pull out the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First gather the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

The Mustard Seed

31 He gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and of all the seeds [planted in the region] it is the smallest, but when it has grown it is the largest of the garden herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air find shelter in its branches.”

The Leaven

33 He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like 34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables, and He said nothing to them without [using] a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:

I will open My mouth in parables;
I will utter things [unknown and unattainable] that have been hidden [from mankind] since the foundation of the world.”

The Weeds Explained

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him saying, “Explain [clearly] to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and [as for] the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the weeds are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the weeds are gathered up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend [those things by which people are led into sin], and all who practice evil [leading others into sin], 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping [over sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [over distress and anger]. 43 Then the righteous [those who seek the will of God] will shine forth [radiating the new life] like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears [to hear], let him hear and heed My words.

Hidden Treasure

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a [very precious] treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field [securing the treasure for himself].

A Costly Pearl

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 and upon finding a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

A Dragnet

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet which was lowered into the sea, and gathered fish of every kind, 48 and when it was full, they dragged it up on the beach; and they sat down and sorted out the good fish into baskets, but the worthless ones they threw away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw the wicked into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping [over sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [over distress and anger].

51 “Have you understood all these things [in the lessons of the parables]?” They said to Jesus, “Yes.” 52 He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household, who brings out of his Jesus Revisits Nazareth

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He left there. 54 And after coming to [Nazareth] His hometown, He began teaching them in their synagogue, and they were astonished, and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers [what is the source of His authority]? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not [living here] among us? Where then did this Man get all this [wisdom and power]?” 57 And they took offense at Him [refusing to believe in Him]. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief.

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Jesus Christ Videos – Parables of Jesus The Parable of the Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Parables of Jesus The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37Amplified Bible (AMP)

25 And a certain lawyer [an expert in Mosaic Law] stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this habitually and you will live.” 29 But he, wishing to justify and vindicate himself, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he encountered robbers, who stripped him of his clothes [and belongings], beat him, and went their way [unconcerned], leaving him half dead. 31 Now by coincidence a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also came down to the place and saw him, and passed by on the other side [of the road]. 33 But a Samaritan (foreigner), who was traveling, came upon him; and when he saw him, he was deeply moved with compassion [for him], 34 and went to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them [to sooth and disinfect the injuries]; and he put him on his own pack-animal, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii (two days’ wages) and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I return.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbor to the man who encountered the robbers?” 37 He answered, “The one who showed compassion and mercy to him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and constantly do the same.”

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The Last Supper – Luke 22 Amplified Bible (AMP)

The Last Supper Communion Table

Luke 22Amplified Bible (AMP)

Preparing the Passover

22 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people [who listened devotedly to His teaching, and who respected His spiritual wisdom].

Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve [disciples]. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him and hand Him over to them. They were delighted and agreed with him to give him money. So he consented, and began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus to them [at a time when He was] separated from the crowd [because the people might riot or stop them from seizing Him].

Then came the preparation day of a]Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us, so that we may eat it.” They asked Him, “Where do You want us to prepare it?” 10 He replied, “When you have entered the city, a b]man carrying an earthen jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house that he enters. 11 And say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 12 Then he will show you a large upstairs room, furnished [with carpets and dining couches]; prepare the meal there.” 13 They left and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

The Lord’s Supper

14 When the hour [for the meal] had come, Jesus reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 He said to them, “I have earnestly wanted to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and c]given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant [ratified] in My blood. 21 But listen, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. 22 For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe (judgment is coming) to that man by whom He is betrayed and handed over!” 23 And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this.

Who Is Greatest?

24 Now a dispute also arose among them as to which of them was regarded to be the greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles have absolute power and lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 But it is not to be this way with you; on the contrary, the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest [and least privileged], and the [one who is the] leader, like the servant. 27 For who is the greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

28 “You are those who have remained and have stood by Me in My trials; 29 and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you [the privilege] 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

31 “Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has demanded permission to sift [all of] you like grain; 32 but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter], that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers [in the faith].” 33 And Peter said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death!” 34 Jesus said, “I say to you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will [utterly] deny three times that you know Me.”

35 And He said to them, “When I sent you out without a money belt and [provision] bag and [extra] sandals, did you lack anything?” They answered, “Nothing.” 36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money belt is to take it along, and also his [provision] bag, and he who has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this [Scripture] which is written must be completed and fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was counted with the criminals’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment [and is settled].” 38 They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”

 

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Evolution and the Atonement of Jesus Christ

by Tim Chaffey

Recently, the BioLogos website hosted two articles from guest blogger Dr. Joseph Bankard as part of a series on “how to understand the atoning work of Christ in light of evolutionary science.” This series features writers who hold different opinions on the relationship between evolution and the atonement. Critiques of some of these posts are forthcoming. This article will summarize the main points in Dr. Bankard’s posts and then offer a critique of these points.

Bankard’s Claims

In his first post, Bankard explains his objections to the orthodox understanding of the atonement, known as the penal substitutionary atonement. This view states that Jesus died as our substitute on the Cross, appeasing the wrath of God against sin and satisfying the demands of God’s perfect justice.

Bankard argues that if the substitutionary atonement view is true then “God is either severely limited in power or unnecessarily cruel.”1 What is his rationale for this claim? If God can only forgive sin through blood and sacrifice, then He must be limited in power, and if God could forgive humanity in other ways but chooses the torture and death of His Son, then He seems to be quite cruel. Bankard goes one step further and states that he doesn’t think God willed the Cross because then God would have willed sinful actions. Instead, he says, Christ’s “crucifixion was the result of human sin.”

His second objection to the substitutionary atonement view is based squarely on his acceptance of molecules-to-man evolution. If humans evolved from primates, then the historicity of Adam and Eve is unlikely, meaning that they never brought humanity into a state of sin, which ultimately would be resolved by Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross. Bankard’s statement about evolution’s impact on the Cross perfectly illustrates what Answers in Genesis has constantly told Christian leaders.

Substitutionary atonement sees original sin as a major reason for Christ’s death. But macroevolution calls the Fall and the doctrine of original sin into question. Thus, evolution poses a significant challenge to substitutionary atonement.2

Bankard’s second article focuses on his view of the atonement, or rather the Incarnation. His view of the Cross is more about Jesus experiencing what it’s like to be human so that He can really connect with us. As such, his view of the Cross has little, if anything, to do with atoning for man’s sin. Instead of focusing on the Cross, Bankard focuses on Christ’s life, arguing that the primary reason Jesus came was to show us how to truly be human—to show us what kingdom living really looks like. This functional view of salvation is consistent with recent articles on the BioLogos website that redefine the image of God to fit with evolutionary ideas. See “Evolution and What the Image of God Is Not” and “What Is the Image of God?” for an evaluation of this notion.

Critique

Bankard’s posts contain numerous theological errors and logical fallacies. His belief in evolution has clouded his reading of Scripture. For example, he claims that problems with a literal reading of Genesis led him away from interpreting the Bible’s earliest chapters in a straightforward manner. However, these “problems” are easily addressed.

Problems in Genesis?

He stated that as a young adult he was “deeply troubled by the divergent creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2.” These chapters do not contradict each other; they complement one another. Genesis 1–2:4 provides a broad overview of the Creation Week, while Genesis 2 zooms in on events that occurred on Day Six.

Bankard wondered how the word day could really refer to a 24-hour time period. “How could there be a day before the sun was created?” However, the sun is not required to mark the passing of a 24-hour time period on Earth. We use the sun today to recognize the start and end of a day, but it certainly is not required for timekeeping. God created light on Day One, and it seems that the Earth was rotating as well since there was a period of darkness and a period of light—the first day.

The account of Cain is said to be even more problematic. Cain moved to the land of Nod after killing Abel. But this troubled Bankard, and he asked, “Where on earth did all the people in Nod come from?” The Bible does not say that there were already people in the land of Nod when Cain traveled there. He brought his wife with him, and then he built a city. Obviously, the original inhabitants of Nod and the city of Enoch were Cain’s descendants.

Evolution Drives Theology

The theological rationale in these articles leaves much to be desired. It does not follow that if God only forgives sin through blood and sacrifice that He must be limited in power. The truth is that Scripture plainly states that death is the penalty for sin. God told Adam that if he ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would surely die (Genesis 2:17). Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” This is why the solution to the problem of sin and death is the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Adam’s sin did not bring physical death into this world, then the physical death of Christ on the Cross and His physical, bodily Resurrection from the dead have no connection with sin. Far from being limited in power, God demonstrates His power over sin and death by raising His Son from the dead.

Yet Bankard, based on his understanding of the evolutionary origin of man, does not believe Adam and Eve ever existed,3 so death cannot be the penalty for sin. Death must have existed for hundreds of millions of years before the first humans evolved.

Through the death of the perfect Man, God’s perfect justice is satisfied since sin requires death.

It also does not follow that since He chose to send His Son to die for our sins that He must be unnecessarily cruel. This might be the case if God sent an unwilling and unqualified person to die on the Cross. We must remember that God is triune, that the Son is also God. God became a man, and He willingly chose to lay down His life for our sins. Our Creator and Judge became one of us and took upon Himself the sins of the world so that we could be reconciled to Him. Through the death of the perfect Man, God’s perfect justice is satisfied since sin requires death. “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21–22).

The penal substitutionary atonement view of Christ’s death has been widely accepted by Bible-believing Christians for centuries. As such, many may be surprised that numerous views of the atonement have existed throughout church history. For example, Irenaeus (c. 125–202) proposed the recapitulation theory, Augustine (354–430) held to the ransom theory, and Anselm (1033–1109) developed the necessary-satisfaction theory.

Space does not allow for an evaluation of each of these other positions, but two points can be made. First, while each of these views can find some support in Scripture, they are at odds with other portions of the text, and as such, they are insufficient explanations of the atonement. Second, these views were developed in an attempt to explain certain ideas found in the Bible.

Bankard’s position is different than these other views of the atonement in that he bases it on a concept found nowhere in Scripture (evolution) and uses that foreign concept to reinterpret the words of the Bible. Consider his own words describing his rationale in searching for an alternate view of the atonement.

In my estimation, substitutionary atonement does not fit well with the theory of evolution.4

If evolution is true, then the universe is very old, humans evolved from primates, and the historical accuracy (but not the truth) of the Genesis narratives is called into question.5

The substitutionary view argues that Jesus’ death redeems the sin committed by Adam and Eve in the garden. To adopt this view, one must read Genesis 1–3 more literally. At times, this kind of biblical hermeneutic may run counter to evolutionary theory. The view sketched above does not require a historical Adam and Eve or a traditional concept of original sin, making it more compatible with evolution.6

Commentary is hardly needed on these points since Bankard rightly states that evolution contradicts the historical accuracy of Genesis. He argues that if one interprets Genesis metaphorically or allegorically then one can still hold to the truth of the Genesis narratives. This would be accurate if Genesis were intended to be taken allegorically, but the biblical evidence against this notion is overwhelming. Jesus treated these early chapters as literal history, as did any author of Scripture who referred to them. For example, Paul built entire arguments on the truth that Adam’s sin brought death into the world (Romans 5:12–21; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22). Furthermore, Luke 3 lists the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam. But if Adam was not a real person, then how could Jesus be descended from him?

Denying God’s Plan

Throughout the articles, Bankard seems to conflate the atonement with the Incarnation. When he starts to speak of the atonement, he changes gears to discuss Christ’s life rather than His death. This is because he believes that we are saved by Christ’s life and the example He set—not by His atoning work at the Cross.

The most troubling aspect of Bankard’s article is his outright denial of Christ’s substitutionary atonement. In his second article, he attempts to explain that Jesus came not to die for man, but to experience life as a man. Throughout his post, he sets up the two ideas as though one must choose one view over another. He states that according to the substitutionary view, “God becomes human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth with the sole purpose of dying for humanity’s sin. But I argue that this view of the incarnation is somewhat limited. Jesus doesn’t become human to die. Jesus takes on flesh and bone to show us how to really live, how to be fully human.”7

By setting up the argument in this way, Bankard commits the logical fallacy of bifurcation (the either/or fallacy). He gives the reader the choice of only two options when at least one more is available. He misrepresents the substitutionary view by claiming that Christ’s death was the “sole purpose” for the incarnation. This is absolutely false, and it would be wrong for us to think that Jesus became a man for only one purpose. He came because God so loved the world (John 3:16). He came so that He could experience humanity and become our high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). He came to fulfill prophecy (Matthew 1:22–23). He came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). And yes, He most certainly came to die on the Cross (John 19:28–30).

Christ’s death was absolutely part of God’s divine plan.

Sadly, Bankard apparently denies the last statement above. He states that “Christ’s death was not part of God’s divine plan. It was the tragic result of human sin.” Besides another obvious bifurcation fallacy (Christ’s death was both part of God’s divine plan and the result of human sin), the Bible explicitly teaches in a number of ways that Christ’s death was absolutely part of God’s divine plan.

We are told in Revelation 13:8 that Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah were part of God’s plan before He ever created us. He knew man would rebel, and He already knew how man would be redeemed. The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would be killed, but not for Himself (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53:8–9). The psalmist even gave us a glimpse of the form of execution by which the Messiah would die (Psalm 22:14–18). Jesus told people several times that He was going to die (Matthew 12:39–40, 20:17–19; John 2:19, 12:32–33).

If these clear statements about the Messiah’s death were not enough, the Bible teaches us that the death of Jesus Christ was the only way for sinners to be saved. On the night that He was arrested, Jesus pleaded with the Father, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Knowing all that was about to happen to Him, Jesus asked the Father to find a way other than the Cross to save sinners. Yet the fact that He still endured the Cross demonstrated that there could be no other way to save sinners.

Ironically, it is Bankard’s view that makes God unnecessarily cruel. If evolution were true, then God willed the deaths of trillions of creatures for millions of years. He also sent His Son to live on earth to show us the perfect example of humanity. But if the cross was not required to save sinners, then why did God permit Jesus to face such torture if it wasn’t even necessary? Was He powerless to stop it?

Finally, the Apostle Paul summarized the gospel message he preached.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: the Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, emphasis added)

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The message that saves souls is the message about the substitutionary death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Answers in Genesis has repeatedly stated that salvation is not contingent upon one’s acceptance of the straightforward reading of the Creation account, since salvation is based on the atoning death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). However, we have also warned the church for over 20 years that the acceptance of the billions of years necessarily undermines crucial Christian doctrines, including the gospel message itself.

Dr. Bankard’s articles seek to find a new understanding of the Lord’s death in an evolutionary worldview, and this new understanding demonstrates the accuracy of our warnings. By elevating evolutionary beliefs about the past above the truth of Scripture, Dr. Bankard strays into error by denying key elements of Christ’s sacrifice and its purpose that are clearly spelled out in Scripture.

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The Predicted Messiah – Jesus Christ the Messiah – Lamb of God – Eternal Father – Prince of Peace

In hindsight, a good mystery fits together perfectly, like the various pieces of an intricate puzzle that need but one final piece to link the parts that form the completed magnificent panorama. Until that final piece is added, the mystery is virtually impossible to grasp in its entirety. In fact, while the mystery is developing, the inquisitor’s greatest challenge is to assess correctly which pieces of information or evidence are of significance and which are the banal elements that add nothing of consequence to the story. Is it important that Mr. Brown forgot his hat at the train station? Does it matter that the water faucet in the kitchen suddenly is not working properly? Inevitably, the astute inquisitor accurately pinpoints those elements in the story that are of great import. The less astute inaccurately labels ordinary events as important, or fails to understand fully events that were of major consequence.

Such is the case when approaching the study of the predicted Messiah, or, as it were, when solving the mystery of the Messiah. Anyone familiar with New Testament writings is quite familiar with the term “mystery” as it is applied to God’s plan for the redemption of the human race through the predicted Messiah. Paul wrote concerning this mystery: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7). In his letter to the Colossians, he stated: “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to his saints” (1:25-26). Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians contains similar comments: “[I]f indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery…which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (3:3,5).

The New Testament writers identified for us several characteristics of this Messianic mystery: (1) The mystery revolves around the prophesied Messiah and the redemption of mankind; (2) The mystery is one that has been hidden in various ways from all generations of people prior to the time of the New Testament; (3) The various tenets of the mystery are divinely revealed and made known only through divine communication; (4) During the times of the New Testament writers, God revealed the final piece of the mystery to the New Testament writers themselves.

The intention of this discussion is to trace out the various divinely revealed tenets of the Messianic mystery. Upon completion of that task, we must then determine if, in truth, the New Testament writers did possess the final, completing piece of that mystery. We have dealt in other places with the traces of a Savior originating from various sources outside the biblical writings (see Butt and Thompson, 2001). Therefore, since the Hebrew Scriptures are renowned for being the most complete repository of Messianic predictions available, we will focus our attention upon them.

OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES

In contemplating the Old Testament, Jewish Scriptures, it would be beneficial for us to consider several important features of the writings. First, the opening eleven chapters of the first book, Genesis, do not relate to the Hebrews only, but to the broader scope of humanity as a whole. These chapters describe the creation of the Universe, the fall of man from his perfect state of innocence, the wickedness of man and the destructive, world-wide Flood, and the repopulation of the Earth. They contain approximately 2,000 years of history, not a year of which necessarily has anything to do with the Jewish nation, any more than with any other nation.

Second, the remainder of the Old Testament, from Genesis 12-Malachi, focuses primarily on the descendants of Abraham. Note that the narratives and terms often used to describe these descendants are none too flattering. They are called stubborn, stiff-necked, sinful, rebellious, and a host of adjectives equally as caustic (see Deuteronomy 9:7; Ezekiel 2:3-10; Hosea 4:16). And yet, these descendants of Abraham are the ones responsible for preserving the very Scriptures that repeatedly rebuked them for their idolatrous backsliding from God. Remember, too, that they could have altered and preserved these writings in a more flattering form. From archaeological finds we have learned that other nations surrounding ancient Israel often chose to embellish their history, intentionally excluding derogatory remarks or events concerning themselves.

Why did the Israelites preserve the writings as they did? The answer to this is actually twofold. First, they believed the particular writings that they preserved to be inspired by God, a belief that can be proven beyond doubt (see Thompson, 2001). But secondly, each of the 39 books contains a calculated revelation describing some aspect of the coming Messiah, who, according to these Scriptures, is not only destined to save the nation of Israel, but the entire world. In fact, the reader cannot progress far into the Old Testament writings before he is inundated with descriptions of, and predictions concerning, the coming Messiah.

WERE THE JEWS LOOKING FOR A MESSIAH?

It has been suggested that the ancient Jewish scribes, rabbis, and general population were not really looking for a personal Messiah. Eminently respected Messianic Jewish author David Baron first published his work, Rays of Messiah’s Glory, in 1886. In that volume, Baron wrote:

I am aware also that in recent times many intelligent Jews, backed by rationalistic, so-called Christians…deny that there is hope of a Messiah in the Old Testament Scriptures, and assert that the prophecies on which Christians ground such a belief contain only “vague anticipations and general hopes, but no definite predictions of a personal Messiah,” and that consequently the alleged agreement of the gospel history with prophecy is imaginary (2000, p. 16).

In his statements that refute the “non-Messianic” view of Old Testament Scripture, Baron wrote: “Even Maimonides, the great antagonist of Christianity, composed that article of the Jewish creed which unto the present day is repeated daily by every true Jew: ‘I believe with a perfect faith that the Messiah will come, and although His coming be delayed, I will await His daily appearance’ ” (p. 18). He commented further: “Aben Ezra, Rashi, Kimchi, Abarbanel, and almost every other respectable and authoritative Jewish commentator, although not recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, are yet unanimous that a personal Messiah is taught in the Old Testament Scriptures” (pp. 19-20). Baron also noted that only an “insignificant minority of the Jews” had dared to suggest that the Old Testament lacks definitive predictions of a personal Messiah. He then eloquently stated: [W]ith joy we behold the nation [Jews—KB], as such, still clinging to the anchor which has been the mainstay of their national existence for so many ages—the hope of a personal Messiah, which is the essence of the Old Testament Scriptures” (2000, p. 20).

In his volume, The Messiah in the Old Testament: In Light of Rabbinical Writings, Risto Santala wrote: “If we study the Bible and the Rabbinic literature carefully, we cannot fail to be surprised at the abundance of Messianic interpretation in the earliest works known to us…. [T]he Talmud states unequivocally: ‘All the prophets prophesied only for the days of the Messiah’ ” (1992, p. 22).

In regard to specific Old Testament prophecies, a plethora of rabbinical commentary verifies that the nation of Israel certainly had in view a coming Messiah. Concerning Genesis 49:10, the noted author Aaron Kligerman wrote: “The rabbis of old, though not agreeing with each other as to the meaning of the root Shiloh, were almost unanimous in applying the term to the Messiah” (1957, pp. 19-20). Immediately after this statement, Kligerman listed the Targum Onkelos, Targum Jerusalem, and the Peshito all as referring to Genesis 49:10 as a Messianic prophecy pointing toward an individual, personal Messiah (p. 20). With reference to Genesis 49:10, David Baron wrote:

With regard to this prophecy, the first thing I want to point out is that all antiquity agrees in interpreting it of a personal Messiah. This is the view of the LXX Version [Septuagint—KB]; the Targumim of Onkelos, Yonathan, and Jerusalem; the Talmud; the Sohar; the ancient book of “Bereshith Rabba;” and among modern Jewish commentators, even Rashi, who says, “Until Shiloh come, that is King Messiah, Whose is the kingdom” (2000, p. 258, emp. added).

Concerning the book of Isaiah and the predictive, Messianic prophecy contained within it, Santala stated: “The Messianic nature of the book of Isaiah is so clear that the oldest Jewish sources, the Targum, Midrash and Talmud, speak of the Messiah in connection with 62 separate verses” (1992, pp. 164-165). Santala then, in a footnote, proceeded to list several of those verses, including Isaiah 4:2, 9:5, 10:27, 11:1, 11:6, 14:29, 16:1, 28:5, 42:1, 43:10, 52:13, and 60:1 (p. 165).

The prophet Jeremiah contains material that has long been recognized as Messianic in nature. Concerning Jeremiah 23:5-6, David Baron wrote: “There is scarcely any contrary opinion among ancient and modern Jews but that this is a Messianic prophecy” (2000, p. 78).

In truth, statements that verify that the ancient Israelite nation recognized certain passages in the Old Testament as Messianic are legion. Regardless of what a person believes about the identity of the Messiah, it cannot be gainsaid that the nation of Israel, through the influence of the Old Testament writers, has been waiting for His coming.

THE PROTEVANGELIUM

Virtually from the first glimpse of human life on the Earth, traces of the predicted Messiah were divinely revealed to mankind. All too familiar is the tragic story of the fall of man. Under God’s gracious care, Adam and Eve were specially designed to suit each other’s needs and were ushered into the Edenic Paradise, the joys of which humanity has not seen since nor will see again this side of eternity. God gave the first family only one prohibitory commandment—that they should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they chose to rebel against this lone prohibition, God informed them that the consequence would be death. Yet despite God’s gracious warning, Eve’s senses were dulled by her evil desires, and she soon fell prey to the deceitfulness of sin, convincing her husband Adam to join in her rebellion.

Into this scene of shame and sin, God brought judgment upon all parties involved. Death would be the consequence of this sinful action, as well as increased pain in childbirth for the woman and increased hardship and toil for the man. Yet in the midst of God’s curse upon the serpent, He included a ray of glorious hope for humanity. To the serpent he said: “And I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). This brief statement made by God to the serpent concerning the Seed of woman is often referred to as the protevangelium. J.A. Huffman commented on the passage:

Here the prophecy of a deliverer is unmistakably uttered. Even a temporary bruise, that of the heel, suggesting the apparent, momentary defeat of the deliverer is predicted: but, at the same time, the deliverer’s ultimate and final triumph is prophesied, in his bruising of the serpent’s head, which means a fatal blow (1956, p. 38).

The Jewish scholar, Aaron Kligerman, noted that three things stand out in this first prediction of the Messiah, “namely that the Deliverer must be—(A) of the seed of woman and (B) That He is to be temporarily hindered and (C) Finally victorious (1957, p. 13, italics in orig.). Kligerman further noted that the ancient rabbinical opinions found in the Palestinian Targum testify “that in Genesis 3:15 there is promised a healing of the bite in the heel from the serpent, which is to take place ‘at the end of the days, in the days of King Messiah’ ” (p. 14). [NOTE: The Targums “are interpretive renderings of the books of Hebrew Scriptures…into Aramaic” (Metzger, 1993). Such versions were needed when the major populations of the Jews no longer spoke Hebrew as their primary language. Metzger further explains that the oral Targum began as a simple paraphrase of the text, “but eventually it became more elaborate and incorporated explanatory details.” John Stenning, in his detailed article on the Targum, explained that oral Targum was introduced several years prior to the first century A.D. in connection with “the custom of reading sections from the Law at the weekly services in the synagogues” (1911).]

Of the protevangelium, Charles A. Briggs, in his classic work, Messianic Prophecy, noted:

Thus we have in this fundamental prophecy explicitly a struggling, suffering, but finally victorious human race, and implicitly a struggling, suffering and finally victorious son of woman, a second Adam, the head of the race…. The protevangelium is a faithful miniature of the entire history of humanity, a struggling seed ever battling for ultimate victory…. [U]ntil it is realized in the sublime victories of redemption” (1988 reprint, p. 77).

Briggs went on to comment that the protevangelium “is the only Messianic prophecy which has been preserved from the revelations made by God to the antediluvian world” (p. 77).

Here, then, is the seminal prophecy made to pave the way for all others that would deal with the coming of the great Deliverer of mankind. Several qualities of this coming Deliverer are readily apparent. First, He will come in human form as the seed of woman. Second, He will defeat the effects of sin brought about by the fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world. Third, He will be hindered in His redemptive activity by the serpent, Satan, who will inflict upon Him a minor wound. Fourth, He will ultimately overcome the wound of Satan and finally triumph. In this first prediction of the Messiah, we catch an underlying theme of a suffering, victorious redeemer—a theme that will be fleshed out in the remaining pages of the Old Testament.

THE SEED OF ABRAHAM

The protevangelium in Genesis 3:15 predicted that the conquering Messiah would belong to the seed of woman, taking on a human form. But that feature alone, admittedly, does not help much in identifying the Messiah, since billions of people have been born of woman. In order for Messianic prophecy to prepare its readers for the actual Messiah, the scope would need to be narrowed.

Such narrowing of the Messianic scope can be seen in God’s promise to the patriarch, Abraham. In Genesis 12, the Bible records the fact that God specifically chose Abraham from among all the peoples of the world (Genesis 12:1-3). Through Abraham, God promised that all the nations of the world would be blessed, and that Abraham’s descendants would multiply as the sand of the sea and the stars of the sky. As Huffman noted, “It was to Abraham, the son of Terah, a descendant of Shem, that God gave a peculiar promise, one which could not be omitted in any serious effort to trace the Messianic hope” (1956, p. 41). For many years, this promise of progeny remained unfulfilled due to the fact that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was barren. In order to “help” God fulfill His promise, Abraham and Sarah devised a plan by which Abraham could have a child. Sarah sent her handmaid, Hagar, to serve as a surrogate wife to Abraham. As a result of this union, Hagar conceived and gave birth to a child named Ishmael.

In Genesis 17, God renewed His covenant with Abraham and instructed Abraham to institute circumcision as a sign of the covenant. In Genesis 17:19, God informed Abraham that Sarah would have a son named Isaac. In an interesting conversation with God, Abraham petitioned God to let Ishmael be the son of promise and the heir of the covenant that God made. Yet God insisted that Ishmael was not the son of promise and that the promise of all nations being blessed through Abraham’s descendants would not pass through Ishmael, but would be fulfilled only through Isaac. God said: “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year” (Genesis 17:21). James Smith, in writing about God’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham, noted that this promise “has Messianic implications. Both the Church Fathers and Jewish Rabbis so interpreted it” (1993, p. 47). Aaron Kligerman concurred when he wrote about God’s promise to Abraham: “This is more than the promise of ‘The Hope of a Prosperous Era.’ It is a promise of the coming of a ‘Personal Messiah’ ” (1957, pp. 17-18). At this point in human history, then, the Messianic implications fall to the descendants of Isaac. It is important not to miss the significance of the Messianic hope through Abraham and Isaac. The scope of the Messiah has been narrowed from all other peoples and nations of the world, to a single nomadic family. And yet, not just to Abraham’s family in its entirety, but to only one of Abraham’s sons—Isaac.

But the picture becomes even clearer with the birth of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Because of abnormalities with her pregnancy, Rebekah went to inquire of the Lord about her situation. To answer her questions, the Lord said: “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). Concerning this passage, Briggs noted: “This prediction breaks up the seed of Isaac into two nations, assigns the headship with the blessing to Jacob, and makes Edom subject to him” (1988, p. 90). The fact that the promised Messiah would come through Jacob’s descendants becomes increasingly clear throughout the Genesis narrative that tells the stories of Jacob and Esau. God confirmed the promise to Jacob in Genesis 28:14, when He said to the patriarch: “Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (emp. added). The picture of the Messiah continues to become increasingly focused: The seed of woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of Isaac, the seed of Jacob.

TWO MESSIAHS:
A SUFFERING SERVANT AND REIGNING KING

Throughout the Old Testament, various Messianic passages refer to a majestic, glorious King who will reign over a never-ending kingdom. Yet, at the same time, other Messianic prophecies depict a suffering Messiah who will bear the guilt and sin of the entire world. Because these two aspects of Messianic prophecy seem contradictory, many in the ancient Jewish community could not understand how such diverse prophetic sentiments could be fulfilled in a single individual. Due to this conundrum, ancient and modern Jews have posited the idea that two Messiahs would come: one would be the suffering Servant, while the other would be the glorious King.

Concerning this separation of the Messiah into two different individuals, John Ankerberg and his colleagues John Weldon and Walter Kaiser wrote:

[T]hey (early Jewish rabbis—KB) could not reconcile the statements that so clearly spoke of a suffering and dying Messiah with those verses in other passages that spoke of a triumphant and victorious Messiah. What is important to note is that they did recognize that both pictures somehow applied to the Messiah. But they assumed it was impossible to reconcile both views in one person. Rather than seeing one Messiah in two different roles, they saw two Messiahs—the suffering and dying Messiah, called “Messiah ben Joseph,” and the victorious conquering Messiah, called “Messiah ben David” (1989, pp. 57-58).

Jewish rabbi Robert M. Cohen stated:

The rabbis saw that scripture portrayed two different pictures of King Messiah. One would conquer and reign and bring Israel back to the land by world peace and bring the fullness of obedience to the Torah. They called him Messiah ben David. The other picture is of a servant who would die and bear Israel’s sin that they refer to as the “leprous one” based on Isaiah 53 (Cohen, n.d.; also see Parsons, 2003-2006).

It is evident, from the rabbinical view of two Messiahs, that the themes of suffering and regal authority were so vividly portrayed in Old Testament Messianic prophecy that both themes demanded fulfillment. To suggest two Messiah’s provided such a fulfillment. However, the dual Messianic idea failed to comprehend the actual nature of Messianic prophecy, and missed a primary facet of the Messianic personality: that the Messiah would be both a suffering Servant and a majestic King. As Huffman rightly observed: “The theme of Messianism is composed of two inseparable strands or threads—the scarlet and the golden, or the suffering and the reigning, or the priestly and the royal” (1956, p. 7). To misunderstand or miss either of these two interwoven threads would be to miss the Messiah completely.

REGAL KING

Genesis 49:10—Shiloh

The Lord kept His promise to Jacob and multiplied his descendants exceedingly. His twelve sons and their wives and children escorted him to Egypt to live in the land of Goshen at the behest of Joseph, who had been elevated in Egypt as the Pharaoh’s chief advisor. As Jacob neared the end of his rather long life (over 130 years, Genesis 47:9), he gathered his sons around his death bed, and stated: “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days” (Genesis 49:1). Following this introductory statement, Jacob proceeded to address each of his sons and bestow blessings (or in some cases, curses) on his descendants.

In the midst of his final speech, in his blessing on Judah, Jacob stated: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Genesis 49:10). The Messianic nature of this statement has long been recognized and discussed in ancient Jewish circles. As previously stated, David Baron wrote: “With regard to this prophecy, the first thing I want to point out is that all antiquity agrees in interpreting it of a personal Messiah. This is the view of the LXX. Version; the Targumim of Onkelos, Yonathan, and Jerusalem; the Talmud; the Sohar; the ancient book of ‘Bereshith Rabba;’ and among modern Jewish commentators, even Rashi, who says, ‘Until Shiloh come, that is King Messiah, Whose is the kingdom’ ” (2000, p. 258, emp. added). Aaron Kligerman added: “The rabbis of old, though not agreeing with each other as to the meaning of the root Shiloh, were almost unanimous in applying the term to the Messiah” (1957, p. 19-20). Santala, in his discussion of several of the oldest Jewish documents available, wrote:

Targum Onqulos says of Judah’s scepter that it will not depart “until the Messiah comes, he who has the power to reign.” Targum Jonathan puts it that the verse refers to “the age of the Messiah-King, the King who will come as the youngest of his children.” Targum Yerushalmi speaks of the ‘time’ when “the Messiah-King will come” (1992, p. 50, italics in orig.).

Much commentary and debate surrounds the “Shiloh” prophecy found in Genesis 49:10. It is often viewed as an indication of the time that the Messiah should arrive on the scene. As can be deduced from Kligerman’s quote, the actual origin and exact meaning of the word Shiloh are disputed in many scholarly circles. Yet, despite the controversy in reference to this prophecy, the one aspect of it that stands out is the central idea that this is a Messianic Prophecy. As such, it narrows the identity of the Messiah even further to a descendant, not just of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to the house of Judah.

The Son of David

Of all the monarchs that possessed the throne of Israel, none is as storied as King David. From his youth he proved himself to be a courageous, valiant warrior who trusted in the Lord. He was described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He wrote many of the Psalms, and ushered in a united kingdom that paved the way for the majestic reign of his son, Solomon.

David’s relationship to the Messiah is a rather interesting one. First, Jewish antiquity recognized the fact that Messiah would be the Son of David. Santala commented: “Tradition ascribes 73 of the 150 psalms to King David. In the Rabbinic literature the Messiah is constantly referred to as the ‘Son of David.’ For this reason, everywhere the future blessing of the house of David is described, the Sages saw Messianic material” (1992, p. 109, italics in orig.).

Such Messianic sentiments in regard to David find their seminal origin in the promise made by God to David through the prophet Nathan. In 2 Samuel 7, the text narrates the events that lead to this promise. David had become a great king and his reign had spread far and wide. Due to his love for the Lord, he wanted to show honor to God by building a glorious temple in which the Ark of the Covenant could be housed. He mentioned his idea to the prophet Nathan, who immediately encouraged the building plans. But soon after Nathan had told David to do all that was in his heart, God conveyed to Nathan that He did not want David to build a temple. Instead, God would commission David’s son, Solomon, to construct the magnificent edifice. Yet, in God’s message to David, He promised: “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

In later Psalms, the promise of David’s descendant reigning over an eternal Kingdom is expanded and given more substance. Psalm 89 contains several Messianic aspects, not the least of which is the following statement: “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My Servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations’ ” (vss. 3-4). Psalm 132 contains a very similar statement: “The Lord has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it: ‘I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body. If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”

Along with the various inspired psalmists, other Old Testament writers noted the Messianic lineage through David and his throne. One of the most memorable of all Messianic predictions from the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6-7, mentioned the Messianic reign upon the throne of David:

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Yet, along with the fact that the Messiah was to be of the seed of David and reign on His throne, at least one Psalm places David in a subservient position to this majestic Messianic ruler. Psalm 110 opens with the statement: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’ ” (Psalm 110:1). In regard to Psalm 110, Briggs noted: “The 110th Psalm is in the form of an utterance from Jahveh respecting the son of David. It is therefore a prediction that unfolds the prediction of Nathan” (1988, p. 132). Walter Kaiser, in his discussion of Psalm 110, wrote: “While the external evidence that this psalm is Messianic is large, the internal evidence is just as overwhelming” (1995, p. 94). In reference to the Messiah mentioned in the first verse, Kaiser stated: “That unnamed Lord is a royal person, for he was invited to ‘sit at [God the Father’s] right hand….’ If the God of the universe invited this other Sovereign to take such a distinguished seat alongside himself, then we may be sure he was no one less than the promised Messiah, invited to participate in the divine government of the world” (p. 94).

Psalm 110 adds an interesting aspect to the character and position of the Messiah. Not only would the Messiah be born from the seed of David and reign on the throne of David, He also would be exalted to a position far above David, to such an extent that David called him “Lord” in Psalm 110. David’s statements in this Psalm not only speak to the pre-existence of the Messiah before David, but also to the pre-eminence that the Messiah would assume.

With these details, the portrait of the Messiah becomes increasingly sharp. He was to come from the seed of woman and crush the power of Satan. He was to be of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and now David. He would rule on the throne of David, yet He existed before David and was so preeminent that David called Him Lord. And there would be no end of His glorious, majestic kingdom.

THE SUFFERING SERVANT

Anyone who reads the Old Testament would be hard pressed to miss the idea of the Messiah’s glorious regal prominence. Yet, as equally transparent is the idea that the Messiah was to suffer. The protevangelium in Genesis 3:15 makes reference to this suffering in the statement about the heel of the Seed of women being bruised, but it does not include the details of this suffering. The theme of suffering introduced in Genesis 3:15 is expanded in the remainder of the Old Testament.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

The passage of Scripture found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 stands as a somber reminder of the horrendous suffering that the Messiah would endure. The text mentions that He would be highly exalted and extolled (52:13). And yet His appearance would be marred more than any man (52:14). He would not be physically attractive (53:2), and He would be despised and rejected by men, familiar with sorrows and grief (53:4). He would be perfect and without sin (53:9), and yet He would be beaten, suffer, and die for the sins of the Lord’s people (53:5-6,11). This suffering Servant would be killed among the wicked, but buried among the rich (53:8-9). Yet, in spite of His death (or even because of it), He would be numbered among the great and divide the spoil with the strong (53:12).

Needless to say, this picture of the Messiah seems to stand in stark contrast to the glorious King on David’s throne. As has been mentioned, this contrast has caused some to concoct two Messiahs to accommodate the prophecies. Still others have attempted to discount Messianic prophecies such as Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Some have suggested that this passage of Scripture is not Messianic in nature, but that the servant under discussion represents the collective nation of Israel. Along these lines, David Baron noted: “Modern Jews, in common with a number of rationalistic so-called Christians, are trying hard these days to weaken the Messianic application of this remarkable prophecy” (2000, p. 225). James Smith stated:

The Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53 was acknowledged by Jewish authorities until the Middle Ages. Almost all Christian leaders until the beginning of the nineteenth century saw in this passage a clear picture of the suffering, death and resurrection of the Messiah. Jews and some Christian scholars now hold primarily to the collective view of the Servant: The Servant is Israel as a whole, or the remnant. The traditional view, however, has much to commend it (1993, p. 307).

That the ancient Jewish community, and the bulk of scholars for the last 2,000 years, have recognized Isaiah 53 as a prophecy concerning a personal, individual Messiah cannot be questioned. Baron correctly commented regarding this sentiment:

That until recent times this prophecy has been almost universally received by Jews as referring to Messiah is evident from Targum Yonathan, who introduces Messiah by name in chapter lii 13, from the Talmud (“Sanhedrin,” fol. 98, b); and from Zohar, a book which the Jews as a rule do not mention without the epithet “holy…” (2000, p. 226).

The recent view that Isaiah 53 refers to the nation of Israel not only garners little (if any) support from ancient Jewish commentators, it collapses under the scrutiny of critical examination. The foremost objection to the view that Israel collectively is the Servant in Isaiah 53 is the fact that the Servant is described as perfect and sinless (53:9), not deserving the punishment that He willingly accepts for the sins of God’s people. No one remotely familiar with the nation of Israel as portrayed in the Old Testament would dare suggest that they were sinless. From their first few steps out of Egypt and into freedom they began to provoke God and bring judgment upon themselves. On numerous occasions the Old Testament depicts the Israelites’ sin of such a rebellious nature that God executes thousands of them. One fundamental aspect of an atoning sacrifice in Old Testament literature was its condition of spotless perfection. No nation of mere mortal men, including the ancient Israelite nation, could suffice as an atoning sacrifice for sins, as the Servant does in Isaiah 53. Nor could a sinful nation make another group of people “righteous” as the Lord’s Servant would. Furthermore, the Servant of the Lord is depicted as being stricken for “transgressions of my people.” If the Servant was collectively depicted as the nation of Israel, then who would be the Lord’s people in 53:8? [NOTE: For a more complete refutation of Israel as the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53, see Baron, 2000, pp. 225-251.]

Indeed, the evidence points overwhelmingly to the fact that Isaiah 53 stands as one of the most poignant portrayals in all of the Old Testament of an individual, suffering Messiah. As Smith correctly noted: “The Servant of the Lord here is portrayed in a strongly individualistic way. It takes rich imagination or strong prejudice to see the Servant here as a symbol for Israel, the remnant, the prophets, or any other group” (p. 1993, 307). Kaiser similarly commented: “Undoubtedly, this is the summit of OT prophetic literature. Few passages can rival it for clarity on the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah (1995, p. 178).

VARIOUS SPECIFIC MESSIANIC PROPHECIES

In addition to the broad strokes portraying the Messiah as a reigning king and suffering servant, there are a host of more specific, detailed prophecies that relate to His coming. In regard to the number of Messianic prophecies, Sintala wrote: “It is estimated that the Old Testament contains altogether some 456 prophecies concerning Christ. Of these 75 are to be found in the Pentateuch, 243 in the Prophets and 138 in the ‘Writings’ and Psalms” (1992, p. 149; cf. Free and Vos, 1992, p. 241).

Space prohibits a listing of all of these prophecies, but a representative sampling is appropriate. The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea (Micah 5:2) of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He was to be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9) for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:13). The Lord’s Ruler would come into Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9). During His suffering, His clothes would be distributed to those who cast lots for them (Psalm 22:18). His attackers would pierce Him (Zechariah 12:10). Even though His physical suffering would be severe, His bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20). And in spite of His death, His physical body would not experience decay (Psalm 16:10). This small sampling of specific prophetic details is only a fraction of the many Old Testament prophecies that exist. The prophecies were specifically designed to be an efficient mechanism by which the Jewish community could recognize the Messiah when He arrived.

WHO IS THE MESSIAH?

When all of the pieces of the Messianic puzzle are put together, one individual stands out as the only person who fulfilled every single prophecy in minute detail—Jesus Christ. The life and activities of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament documents blend the theme of a regal monarch and a suffering servant into one magnificent portrait of the triumphant Jesus who was the sacrificial lamb at His death on the cross, and Who became the triumphant Lion of Judah in His resurrection from the grave. The lineage of Jesus Christ is meticulously traced in order to show that He qualified as the Seed of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Judah, and of David (see Matthew 1 and Luke 3:23-38). The narrative detailing His birth verifies that He was born in Bethlehem of Judea, from which city the Messiah would arise (Luke 2:1-7). The birth narrative also intricately portrays the pre-existence of Jesus before time began, fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would come before King David. Furthermore, Jesus did, in fact, enter Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11).

The New Testament narratives depicting the death of Jesus Christ verify that Jesus was betrayed by His friend and sold for exactly 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 24:14-16). At His death His bones were not broken, soldiers cast lots for His garments, and His side was pierced with a spear (John 19:33-37 and Matthew 27:35). During His suffering, He was numbered with the transgressors as Isaiah 53 predicted by being crucified between two thieves, and at His death He was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man as was also foretold (Matthew 27:57). This type of verification could continue for many pages. The life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, as depicted in the New Testament documents, was designed to fulfill the Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament.

Due to this overwhelming congruence of the life of Jesus Christ with the predictive Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament, some have suggested that Jesus was an imposter who was able, by masterful manipulation, to so artificially organize His life as to make it look like He was the Messiah. Such a contention cannot be reasonably maintained in light of the fact that many of the prophecies were far beyond His control. Obviously, it would be impossible for a person to arrange where he would be born. Furthermore, it would be impossible to coordinate events so that He could ensure that He was buried in the tomb of a rich man or crucified among thieves. How could the betrayal price of Judas be manipulated by Jesus? And how, pray tell, would Jesus have managed to arrange it so that soldiers cast lots for His clothing? The idea that Jesus manipulated events to make it appear as if He was the Messiah not only is indefensible, but it also speaks to the fact that Jesus obviously was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies.

Others have objected to Jesus as the Messiah based on the idea that the New Testament documents are not reliable, and were artificially concocted to describe things that Jesus never really did. This objection also falls flat in light of the actual evidence. It cannot be denied that the New Testament has proven itself to be the most reliable book in ancient history. When it records people, places, and events that are checkable using archaeological means, those people, places, and events invariably prove to be factual and historic (see Butt, 2004). Again, the abundant evidence verifies that the New Testament is accurate and factual. Many of the Messianic prophecies documented in the New Testament do not describe anything inherently miraculous. There was nothing miraculous about Jesus being buried in a rich man’s tomb. Nor was there anything miraculous about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, or being betrayed by His friend for 30 pieces of silver. These events are, if not ordinary, at least very plausible, everyday events that theoretically could have happened to anybody. And yet, due to the fact that such everyday events had been predicted about the Messiah hundreds of years before the arrival of Jesus, the fulfillment of the events becomes one of the most amazing miracles recorded in the Bible. It is no wonder that Jesus, the apostles, and the early church used fulfilled Messianic prophecy as one of its foundational pillars of proof and evangelistic tools.

APPEALING TO PROPHECY

Even a slight familiarity with the New Testament texts sufficiently demonstrates the idea that Jesus, the apostles, and the other New Testament writers used the Old Testament Messianic prophecies as one of their main apologetic tools to prove the deity and Messianic role of Jesus Christ.

The Writers of the Gospel Accounts Applied Messianic Prophecy to Jesus Christ

The Gospel writers repeatedly peppered their narratives of the life and actions of Jesus Christ with allusions, quotes, and Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament, which they applied to Jesus. Mathew 1 includes the Messianic prophecy taken from Isaiah 7:14 in which a virgin is predicted to bear a son. Matthew applies this virgin-birth prophesy to the birth of Jesus Christ. In chapter 2, Matthew references Micah 5:2, in which the birth city of the Messiah is named, again applying the prophecy to Jesus. In Matthew 3, the Bible writer notes that John the Baptizer was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in 40:3, indicating that John was the forerunner of the Messiah which, again, is Jesus Christ. Matthew 4:15-16 references another Messianic prophecy that discusses the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, again applying the prophecy to Jesus Christ. Looking, then, at the first four chapters of the book of Matthew, one is forcefully struck with the fact that one of the Bible writer’s primary apologetic tools used to confirm that Jesus was (and is) the Messiah was a fervent appeal to Messianic prophecy as fulfilled in the life and actions of Jesus. Furthermore, Matthew’s pattern of applying Old Testament, Messianic prophecy to Jesus continues throughout the remainder of his account.

Mark’s gospel account, although not as replete with such prophecies, nevertheless includes appeals to Messianic prophecy and applies those prophecies to Jesus. Mark chapter 1 begins with quotations from Malachi 3 and Isaiah 40 that predict the forerunner of the Messiah. Mark applied these passages to John the Baptizer as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, during the crucifixion account as recorded in Mark, the Bible writer noted that Jesus was crucified between two thieves, and then he commented, “So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors’ ” (15:28). In addition, Mark included instances in which Jesus applied Messianic prophecy to Himself.

As with Matthew and Mark, Luke and John also included numerous Messianic prophecies and appeal to them as proof of the deity of Jesus Christ. Luke chapter three cites the prophecy from Isaiah 40 concerning the Messianic forerunner and applies it to John the Baptizer, the forerunner of Christ. John does the same in 1:23. During Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, John records that Jesus rode into the city sitting on a donkey. John then commented on the situation by saying: “as it is written: Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” His reference was a clear appeal to the Messianic nature of this prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9. Again, in John 12:37-38, the Bible writer refers to a Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 53:1, and applies its fulfillment to the ministry of Jesus. During the crucifixion of Christ, John records that the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothing. John then references Psalm 22:18 as a Messianic prophecy: “They divided My garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

Only a few of the many Messianic prophetic references in the gospel accounts have been documented here. Yet, even with this small sampling, the reader is struck with the clear conclusion that the gospel writers appealed to Old Testament, Messianic prophecy as proof of the deity of Christ.

Jesus’ Appeal to Prophecy as it Applied to Him

On multiply occasions, Jesus directed His listeners to certain Messianic Old Testament scriptures, and applied those scriptures to Himself. Luke records an incident in the life of Jesus in which He visited a synagogue on the Sabbath in His hometown of Nazareth. While in attendance there, Jesus read a passage from Isaiah 61:1-2, and commented to those in attendance that the particular Scripture He had just read was fulfilled in their hearing.

During His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus addressed those who had come to arrest Him, asking them why they did not apprehend Him while He was with them daily teaching in the temple. He then stated: “But the Scriptures must be fulfilled” (Mark 14:49). His statement implied that this deed they were doing was a fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures as they related to His Messianic role.

Again, in Luke 24, the resurrected Jesus appeared to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. They treated Him as a stranger, because they did not recognize Him. Upon striking up a conversation with Jesus, they began to discuss the events of Christ’s death and burial in Jerusalem only a few days earlier. After the disciples related the events of the women at the empty tomb, Jesus began to speak to them with these words: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory” (Luke 24:25-26). The verse following Jesus’ statement explains: “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

A few verses later, in the same chapter, Jesus appeared to several more of His disciples and applied the Old Testament prophecies to His activities again: “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). Such statements made by Jesus show that one of the main lines of evidence that He used to establish His identity as the Messiah was the application of Old Testament Messianic prophecy to Himself.

Messianic Prophecy Applied to Jesus in the Book of Acts

The recorded writings and sermons of the apostles after the ascension of Jesus are replete with appeals to Messianic prophecy as proof of the Messianic identity of Jesus Christ. In the first recorded gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter explained to those in Jerusalem that the resurrection of Christ was a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy uttered by David in Psalm 16:8-11 (in which the Lord would not allow His Holy One to see corruption). In Act 3, Peter addressed another multitude of those dwelling in Jerusalem. In his sermon, he stated: “But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (vs. 18). In that same sermon, Peter referred his audience back to Deuteronomy 18, in which Moses had foretold the coming of a prophet like himself, which Peter applied to Jesus (as did Stephen in his sermon in Acts 7:37). In the next chapter, Peter is arrested and allowed to speak to the high priest and his family. In Peter’s statements to these leaders, he again referred back to the Old Testament, quoted Psalm 118:22 about the stone that was rejected by the builders, and applied the prophecy to Jesus.

In one of the most memorable conversion accounts, Philip the evangelist is called to meet with an Ethiopian treasurer on the road to Gaza. As Philip approached, the Eunuch was reading a passage from Isaiah 53. Upon their meeting, the Eunuch asked Philip about the prophecy, wondering whether the prophet was speaking of himself or someone else. From that text, the Bible says that Philip preached Jesus to the Eunuch, applying the passage from Isaiah as a Messianic prophecy with its fulfillment in the person of Christ (Acts 8:26-40). In another memorable conversion account, Peter visited the house of Cornelius and preached the Gospel to him and all his household. Included in Peter’s message was the following statement concerning Jesus: “To Him all the prophets witness, that through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43, emp. added).

As one continues through the book of Acts, it becomes evident that Paul often appealed to prophecy as evidence of Christ’s deity. In Acts 13, while preaching to those in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, he commented that those responsible for killing Jesus did so because they did not know “the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath” (Acts 13:27). In the same verse he concluded that because of their ignorance of the prophetic message, the murderers of Christ actually fulfilled the prophecies concerning Jesus in their abuse of Him. Paul further quoted from Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 55:3, and Psalm 16:10, noting these Old Testament passages as Messianic prophecy and applying them to Jesus Christ. In a separate sermon, delivered much later, Paul stood before King Agrippa and told him that Jesus is the Christ. In his oratory to Agrippa, Paul acknowledged that the king was “expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews” (Acts 26:3). Paul further noted that in his teachings concerning Jesus as the Messiah, he was saying to Agrippa “no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come” (26:22). In his concluding remarks, Paul said to the king, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Agrippa responded to Paul with these words: “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:27-28).

Examples of Messianic prophecy applied to Jesus by the early propagators of Christianity as recorded in the book of Acts could easily be multiplied further. These few instances suffice to establish the fact that, throughout the book of Acts, predictive prophecy as it applied to Jesus as the Messiah stood as one of the foundational pillars upon which Christianity was based and spread.

Messianic Prophecy Applied to Jesus in the Epistles

Without providing an exhaustive study of every instance of Old Testament prophecy applied to Jesus in the epistles, this brief section will provide enough examples to establish the fact that the epistles, in similar fashion to the other books of the New Testament, rely heavily upon Messianic prophecy to establish the deity of Jesus Christ.

The book of Romans begins with a section discussing the Gospel of God, “which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh…” (1:2-3). In the book of Galatians, Paul refers back to the promise made to Abraham, that through the seed of the patriarch all nations would be blessed. Paul then applies that promise to Jesus, stating that Jesus is the Seed of Abraham through whom the world would receive the blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:15-18). The writer of the book of Hebrews opens his book discussing the merits of Christ, applying many Old Testament passages such as Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:1 to Jesus. In Hebrews 5, the writer argues the case that Jesus is a priest after the order or Melchizedek as prophesied in Psalm 110:4. He repeats these sentiments in 7:17 and 7:21.

The epistles of 1 and 2 Peter contain numerous examples of such prophetic application to Jesus. One of the most potent passages along these lines in found in 1 Peter 1:10-12, in which Peter wrote:

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

In 1 Peter 2:6, the apostle applies Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22 to Christ, describing Him as the chief cornerstone rejected by the builders. Again in 1 Peter 2:22, the apostle applies Isaiah 53:9 to Jesus, referring to the fact that the Messiah would be sinless as was Jesus.

It becomes readily obvious, then, that the New Testament writers and apostles frequently referred to Old Testament, Messianic prophecy and applied the fulfillment of such prophecies to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is impossible to deny that one of the main lines of reasoning upon which the Christian faith was founded from its inception is the idea that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that looked forward to a coming Messiah.

CONCLUSION

In the Old Testament, it is almost as if we have a satellite picture from space of the Messiah many thousands of miles away, yet with each new prophecy, the picture continues to move nearer, until at last we are able to view a complete close-up of the Messiah—Jesus Christ. As the distinguished Hebrew scholar Charles Briggs noted: “In Jesus of Nazareth the key of the Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament has been found. All its phases find their realization in His unique personality, in His unique work, and in His unique kingdom. The Messiah of prophecy appears in the Messiah of history” (1988, p. 498).

In Acts 8:26-40, Philip the evangelist approached the Ethiopian who was riding in a chariot reading the Old Testament Scriptures. As Philip approached, he heard the man reading a section from Isaiah 53 in which the sufferings of the Messiah are depicted. Upon entering into a conversation with Philip, the man asked Philip, “[O]f whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Immediately after this question, the Bible says that Philip “opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35). In truth, Jesus is the sum total of every Old Testament, Messianic prophecy ever uttered. From any single one of those ancient Scriptures, the honest, informed individual could open his or her mouth and preach Jesus, the Messiah.

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