“We Have Found the Messiah”
“WE HAVE found the Messiah.” “We have found the one of whom Moses, in the Law, and the Prophets wrote.” Two devoted first-century Jews made those startling announcements. At last, the hoped-for Messiah had arrived. They were convinced!—John 1:35-45.
When you think about it, given the historical and religious backdrop of that time, their conviction is all the more significant. A number of would-be liberators appeared amid great fanfare and promise, but hopes were soon dashed as such men failed to deliver the Jews from the Roman yoke.—Acts 5:34-37.
However, those two Jews—Andrew and Philip—never wavered in their conviction that they had found the true Messiah. Rather, in the following years, their confidence increased as they personally witnessed the powerful works that this man performed in fulfillment of the features of the Messiah’s role.
Why did these two and many others put faith in him, convinced that he was not just a counterfeit Messiah or a disappointing fraud? What were the credentials that made him convincingly the genuine Messiah?
According to the historical account, Andrew and Philip identified Jesus of Nazareth, the former carpenter, as the promised and long-awaited Messiah. (John 1:45) A careful historian of that era, Luke, states that this coming of the Messiah occurred “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.” (Luke 3:1-3) That 15th year of Tiberius’ reign began in September of 28 C.E. and ended in September of 29 C.E. Luke further states that the Jews at this time “were in expectation” of the Messiah’s arrival. (Luke 3:15) Why was he expected at that particular time? We shall see.
Considering the Messiah’s vital role, you can appreciate that the Creator, Jehovah, would logically provide definite clues to assist the watchful and faithful ones to identify the promised Messiah. Why? Because in that way, careful individuals would not be deceived by impostors, as so many people were.
When presenting himself to another government, an ambassador is expected to confirm his appointment with the necessary credentials. Similarly, Jehovah had recorded well in advance the requirements that the Messiah would meet. Thus, when “the Chief Agent” appeared, it would be as if he came with documentation, or credentials, that would confirm his identity.—Hebrews 12:2.
The requirements that the credentials would have to match were set out in many Bible prophecies written centuries beforehand. They foretold in minute detail the manner of the Messiah’s coming, the nature of his ministry, his suffering at the hands of others, and the type of death he would experience. You may be interested in knowing that those reliable prophecies also foretold his resurrection, his exaltation to the right hand of God, and finally the blessings his future Kingdom rule would bring. In this way, Bible prophecies provided a unique pattern that might be likened to a fingerprint, which can identify only one person.
Of course, when Jesus appeared on the scene in 29 C.E., not all Messianic prophecies were fulfilled then and there. For example, he had not yet been put to death and resurrected. Nevertheless, Andrew, Philip, and many others put faith in Jesus because of what he taught and did. They saw abundant proof that he was, in fact, the Messiah. If you had lived back then and could have studied the evidence firsthand with an open mind, you too would probably have been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah.
A Composite Picture
What would have helped you reach that conclusion? Over the centuries, Bible prophets supplied specific requirements that the Messiah would have to meet, identifying him unmistakably. As the prophets supplied these details over the centuries, a picture of the Messiah gradually emerged. Henry H. Halley observed: “Suppose a number of men of Different Countries, who had never seen, nor in any way communicated with, one another, would walk into a room, and each lay down a piece of Carved Marble, which pieces, when Fitted Together, would make a Perfect statue—how account for it in any other way than that Some One Person had drawn the Specifications, and had sent to each man his part?” He then asks: “How can this Amazing Composite of Jesus’ Life and Work, put together by Different Writers of Different Centuries, Ages Before Jesus Came, be explained on any other basis than that ONE SUPERHUMAN MIND supervised the Writing?” Halley concluded that it was “The Miracle of the Ages!”
This “miracle” began in the first book of the Bible. In addition to the first Bible prophecy that indicated the role of the Messiah, the writer of Genesis recorded that the Messiah would come through Abraham’s line of descent. (Genesis 3:15; 22:15-18) Another clue revealed that the Messiah would be of the tribe of Judah. (Genesis 49:10) God told the Israelites through Moses that the Messiah would be a greater spokesman and deliverer than even Moses.—Deuteronomy 18:18.
During King David’s time, prophecy revealed that the Messiah would be David’s heir to the throne and that His kingdom would be “firmly established to time indefinite.” (2 Samuel 7:13-16) The book of Micah disclosed that the Messiah would be born in David’s town, Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) Isaiah foretold that He would be born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14) The prophet Malachi predicted that His coming would be heralded by someone like Elijah.—Malachi 4:5, 6.
A further defining Messianic detail appeared in the book of Daniel. Pinpointing the very year of the Messiah’s appearance, the prophecy states: “You should know and have the insight that from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks. She will return and be actually rebuilt, with a public square and moat, but in the straits of the times.”—Daniel 9:25.
Persian King Artaxerxes gave “the word” to restore and rebuild Jerusalem in the 20th year of his reign. His reign began in 474 B.C.E., so his 20th year would be 455 B.C.E. (Nehemiah 2:1-8) Thus, a period of 69 (7 plus 62) prophetic weeks would separate the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and the appearance of the Messiah. Sixty-nine literal weeks, of course, equal only 483 days, or less than two years. But when the stated prophetic rule of “a day for a year” is applied, it reveals that the Messiah would appear 483 years later, in 29 C.E.—Ezekiel 4:6.*
Although a number of Messianic claimants appeared at various times, Jesus of Nazareth appeared on the world scene in 29 C.E. (Luke 3:1, 2) In that very year, Jesus came to John the Baptizer and was baptized in water. Jesus was then anointed with holy spirit as the Messiah. Later, John, the foretold Elijahlike forerunner, introduced Jesus to Andrew and another disciple, calling Him “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”—John 1:29; Luke 1:13-17; 3:21-23.
Genealogy and Messiah’s Identification
The inspired prophecies linked the Messiah to particular Jewish families. So it is only reasonable that the omniscient Creator would arrange the Messiah’s coming at a time when the genealogical records were available to verify his ancestry.
McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia states: “There can be little doubt that the registers of the Jewish tribes and families perished at the destruction of Jerusalem [in 70 C.E.], and not before.” There are clear indications that Matthew and Luke wrote their Gospels before 70 C.E. Hence, they could have consulted these records in compiling their accounts of Jesus’ ancestry. (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38) And surely on an issue of such momentous importance, many of their contemporaries would have wanted to verify Jesus’ ancestry for themselves.
A Chance Fulfillment in Jesus?
Still, is it possible that Jesus’ fulfilling Messianic prophecies was mere coincidence? In an interview, one scholar answered: “Not a chance. The odds are so astronomical that they rule that out. Someone did the math and figured out that the probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled is one chance in one hundred million billion.” Putting those odds in perspective, he stated: “If you took this number of silver dollars, they would cover the state of Texas [an area of 266,807 square miles [690,000 square kilometers]] to a depth of two feet [0.6 m]. If you marked one silver dollar among them and then had a blindfolded person wander the whole state and bend down to pick up one coin, what would be the odds he’d choose the one that had been marked?” He then stated that those are “the same odds that anybody in history could have fulfilled just eight of the [Messianic] prophecies.”
Yet, during his three-and-a-half-year ministry, Jesus fulfilled not just eight but many Bible prophecies. In view of such overwhelming evidence, that scholar concluded: “Jesus—and only Jesus throughout all of history—managed to do it.”
Clearly, the Messiah came in 29 C.E. in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. That was his coming as a humble, suffering Redeemer. He did not come as an all-conquering King to break the oppressive yoke of the Romans, as most Jews and even his followers seemed to have expected. (Isaiah, chapter 53; Zechariah 9:9; Acts 1:6-8) His future coming, however, was foretold to be with power and great authority.—Daniel 2:44; 7:13, 14.
A careful study of Bible prophecies has convinced reasoning people around the globe that the Messiah came in the first century and that he was to return. Evidence establishes that his foretold return, the beginning of his “presence,” occurred in 1914.* (Matthew 24:3-14) In that year, Jesus was invisibly enthroned in the heavens as the King of God’s Kingdom. Shortly, he will act to rid the earth of the effects of the rebellion in Eden. His subsequent Thousand Year Reign will bless all those manifesting faith in him as the promised Seed, the Messiah, who “takes away the sin of the world.”—John 1:29; Revelation 21:3, 4.
Jehovah’s Witnesses would be happy to discuss with you that evidence and to point out from the Bible what the Messiah’s rule can mean for you and your loved ones.
For more details on Daniel 9:25, see Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, pages 899-904, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For more details, see chapters 10 and 11 of the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Diagram/Pictures on page 6, 7]
455 B.C.E., “the word to restore . . . Jerusalem”
29 C.E., the Messiah arrives
483 years (69 prophetic weeks)—Daniel 9:25
1914, the Messiah enthroned in heaven
The Messiah will soon end wickedness and make earth a paradise