They Found the Messiah!
“We have found the Messiah.”—JOHN 1:41.
1. What led up to the statement: “We have found the Messiah”?
JOHN THE BAPTIZER is standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus approaches, John exclaims: “See, the Lamb of God!” Andrew and the other disciple promptly follow Jesus and spend the day with him. Later, Andrew finds his brother, Simon Peter, and leads him to Jesus after making the dramatic announcement: “We have found the Messiah.”—John 1:35-41.
2. How will we benefit from further examination of Messianic prophecies?
2 As time passes, Andrew, Peter, and others will have ample opportunity to delve into the Scriptures and will unreservedly declare that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. Our own faith in God’s Word and his Anointed One will be bolstered as we now continue our examination of Messianic prophecies.
“Look! Your King Is Coming”
3. What prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem?
3 The Messiah would make a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Zechariah’s prophecy stated: “Be very joyful, O daughter of Zion. Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem. Look! Your king himself comes to you. He is righteous, yes, saved; humble, and riding upon an ass, even upon a full-grown animal the son of a she-ass.” (Zech. 9:9) The psalmist wrote: “Blessed be the One coming in the name of Jehovah.” (Ps. 118:26) Jesus could not have manipulated the crowd’s actions. However, in fulfillment of prophecy, that throng spontaneously cried out with boundless joy. As you read the account, visualize the scene and hear the happy voices.—Read Matthew 21:4-9.
4. Explain what happened in fulfillment of Psalm 118:22, 23.
4 Although many would reject Jesus despite his Messianic credentials, he is precious to God. As foretold, Jesus ‘was despised and considered to be of no account’ by those who refused to believe the evidence. (Isa. 53:3; Mark 9:12) However, God had inspired the psalmist to say: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This has come to be from Jehovah himself.” (Ps. 118:22, 23) Jesus drew this passage to the attention of his religious opposers, and Peter said that it was fulfilled in Christ. (Mark 12:10, 11; Acts 4:8-11) Jesus did become the “foundation cornerstone” of the Christian congregation. Rejected by godless men, he is “chosen, precious, with God.”—1 Pet. 2:4-6.
Betrayed and Abandoned!
5, 6. What was foretold and fulfilled regarding the Messiah’s betrayal?
5 It was foretold that the Messiah would be betrayed by a treacherous associate. David prophesied: “The man at peace with me, in whom I trusted, who was eating my bread, has magnified his heel against me.” (Ps. 41:9) A person who ate bread with someone was thought to be his friend. (Gen. 31:54) So the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot was treachery of the worst sort. Jesus called attention to the fulfillment of David’s prophetic words when He referred to his betrayer and told his apostles: “I am not talking about all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But it is in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, ‘He that used to feed on my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’”—John 13:18.
6 The Messiah’s betrayer would receive 30 pieces of silver—the price of a slave! Drawing on Zechariah 11:12, 13, Matthew showed that Jesus was betrayed for such a paltry sum. But why did Matthew say that this had been foretold “through Jeremiah the prophet”? In Matthew’s day, Jeremiah may have been placed first in a group of Bible books that included Zechariah. (Compare Luke 24:44.) Judas never spent his ill-gotten sum, for he threw the money into the temple and went off and committed suicide.—Matt. 26:14-16; 27:3-10.
7. How did Zechariah 13:7 undergo fulfillment?
7 Even the Messiah’s disciples would scatter. “Strike the shepherd,” wrote Zechariah, “and let those of the flock be scattered.” (Zech. 13:7) On Nisan 14, 33 C.E., Jesus told his disciples: “All of you will be stumbled in connection with me on this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered about.’” And that is exactly what happened, for Matthew reported that “all the disciples abandoned [Jesus] and fled.”—Matt. 26:31, 56.
Accused and Smitten
8. Under what circumstances was Isaiah 53:8 fulfilled?
8 The Messiah would be tried and condemned. (Read Isaiah 53:8.) At dawn on Nisan 14, the entire Sanhedrin met, had Jesus bound, and handed him over to Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. He questioned Jesus and found him guilty of nothing at all. When Pilate offered to release Jesus, however, the crowd shouted: “Impale him!” and called for the freeing of the criminal Barabbas. Wishing to satisfy the throng, Pilate released Barabbas, had Jesus whipped, and handed him over to be impaled.—Mark 15:1-15.
9. What happened in Jesus’ time as was foretold at Psalm 35:11?
9 False witnesses would testify against the Messiah. “Violent witnesses rise up,” said the psalmist David. “What I have not known they ask me.” (Ps. 35:11) True to prophecy, “the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin were looking for false witness against Jesus in order to put him to death.” (Matt. 26:59) In fact, “many, indeed, were giving false witness against him, but their testimonies were not in agreement.” (Mark 14:56) Lying testimony mattered little to Jesus’ rabid enemies, who sought his death.
10. Explain how Isaiah 53:7 was fulfilled.
10 The Messiah would be silent before his accusers. Isaiah prophesied: “He was hard pressed, and he was letting himself be afflicted; yet he would not open his mouth. He was being brought just like a sheep to the slaughtering; and like a ewe that before her shearers has become mute, he also would not open his mouth.” (Isa. 53:7) While Jesus “was being accused by the chief priests and older men, he made no answer.” Pilate asked: “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?” Nevertheless, Jesus “did not answer him, no, not a word, so that the governor wondered very much.” (Matt. 27:12-14) Jesus did not revile his accusers.—Rom. 12:17-21; 1 Pet. 2:23.
11 Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be smitten. “My back I gave to the strikers, and my cheeks to those plucking off the hair,” wrote the prophet. “My face I did not conceal from humiliating things and spit.” (Isa. 50:6) Micah foretold: “With the rod they will strike upon the cheek the judge of Israel.” (Mic. 5:1) Confirming the fulfillment of these prophecies, the Gospel writer Mark said: “Some started to spit on [Jesus] and to cover his whole face and hit him with their fists and say to him: ‘Prophesy!’ And, slapping him in the face, the court attendants took him.” Mark states that soldiers “would hit him on the head with a reed and spit upon him and, bending their knees [in mockery], they would do obeisance to him.” (Mark 14:65; 15:19) Of course, Jesus did nothing to provoke such abuse.
Faithful to Death
12 Aspects of the Messiah’s impalement were foretold. “The assembly of evildoers themselves have enclosed me,” said the psalmist David. “Like a lion they are at my hands and my feet.” (Ps. 22:16) Reporting an event well-known to Bible readers, the Gospel writer Mark states: “It was now the third hour [about nine o’clock in the morning], and they impaled him.” (Mark 15:25) It had also been foretold that the Messiah would be numbered with sinners. “He poured out his soul to the very death,” wrote Isaiah, “and it was with the transgressors that he was counted in.” (Isa. 53:12) So it was that “two robbers were impaled with [Jesus], one on his right and one on his left.”—Matt. 27:38.
13. In what way was Psalm 22:7, 8 fulfilled in Jesus?
13 David prophesied that the Messiah would be reviled. (Read Psalm 22:7, 8.) Jesus was reviled while suffering on the torture stake, for Matthew reports: “The passersby began speaking abusively of him, wagging their heads and saying: ‘O you would-be thrower-down of the temple and builder of it in three days, save yourself! If you are a son of God, come down off the torture stake!’” Similarly, the chief priests, scribes, and older men made fun of him and said: “Others he saved; himself he cannot save! He is King of Israel; let him now come down off the torture stake and we will believe on him. He has put his trust in God; let Him now rescue him if He wants him, for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” (Matt. 27:39-43) Yet, Jesus bore all of this with dignity. What a fine example for us!
14, 15. Show how specific prophecies were fulfilled regarding the Messiah’s clothing and his being given vinegar.
14 Lots were to be cast for the Messiah’s clothing. “They apportion my garments among themselves,” wrote the psalmist, “and upon my clothing they cast lots.” (Ps. 22:18) That is what occurred, for “when [the Roman soldiers] had impaled [Jesus] they distributed his outer garments by casting lots.”—Matt. 27:35; read John 19:23, 24.
15 The Messiah would be given vinegar and gall. “For food they gave me a poisonous plant,” said the psalmist, “and for my thirst they tried to make me drink vinegar.” (Ps. 69:21) Matthew tells us: “They gave [Jesus] wine mixed with gall to drink; but, after tasting it, he refused to drink.” Later, “one of them ran and took a sponge and soaked it with sour wine and put it on a reed and went giving him a drink.”—Matt. 27:34, 48.
16. Explain how the prophetic words of Psalm 22:1 were fulfilled.
16 The Messiah would seem forsaken by God. (Read Psalm 22:1.) In accord with prophecy, “at the ninth hour [about three o’clock in the afternoon] Jesus called out with a loud voice: ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ which means, when translated: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34) Jesus had not lost faith in his heavenly Father. God abandoned Jesus to his enemies by taking away His protection so that Christ’s integrity might be fully tested. And by crying out as he did, Jesus fulfilled Psalm 22:1.
17 The Messiah would be pierced, but his bones would not be broken. Inhabitants of Jerusalem would “look to the One whom they pierced through.” (Zech. 12:10) And Psalm 34:20 states: “[God] is guarding all the bones of that one; not one of them has been broken.” Confirming these points, the apostle John wrote: “One of the soldiers jabbed his [Jesus’] side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he that has seen it [John] has borne witness, and his witness is true . . . These things took place in order for the scripture to be fulfilled: ‘Not a bone of his will be crushed.’ And, again, a different scripture says: ‘They will look to the One whom they pierced.’”—John 19:33-37.
18. How did Jesus come to be buried with the rich?
18 The Messiah would be buried with the rich. (Read Isaiah 53:5, 8, 9.) Late in the afternoon of Nisan 14, “a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph,” asked Pilate for Jesus’ body, and the request was granted. Matthew’s account adds: “Joseph took the body, wrapped it up in clean fine linen, and laid it in his new memorial tomb, which he had quarried in the rock-mass. And, after rolling a big stone to the door of the memorial tomb, he left.”—Matt. 27:57-60.
Hail the Messianic King!
19. What happened in keeping with the prophetic words of Psalm 16:10?
19 The Messiah would be resurrected. David wrote: “You [Jehovah] will not leave my soul in Sheol.” (Ps. 16:10) Imagine the surprise of the women who came to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid. There they encountered a materialized angel, who told them: “Stop being stunned. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was impaled. He was raised up, he is not here. See! The place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:6) To the crowd present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., the apostle Peter declared: “[David] saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption.” (Acts 2:29-31) God did not allow the physical body of his beloved Son to decay. Moreover, Jesus was miraculously raised to life in the spirit!—1 Pet. 3:18.
20. How was the foretold rulership of the Messiah fulfilled?
20 As foretold, God declared that Jesus is his Son. (Read Psalm 2:7; Matthew 3:17.) Also, crowds hailed Jesus and the coming Kingdom, and we joyfully speak about him and his blessed rule. (Mark 11:7-10) Christ will soon destroy his foes as he ‘rides in the cause of truth, humility, and righteousness.’ (Ps. 2:8, 9; 45:1-6) His kingship will then bring about earth-wide peace and prosperity. (Ps. 72:1, 3, 12, 16; Isa. 9:6, 7) How privileged we are to proclaim these truths as Witnesses of Jehovah, whose beloved Son already reigns in heaven as the Messianic King!
How Would You Answer?
• How was Jesus betrayed and abandoned?
• What were some foretold features of Jesus Christ’s impalement?
• Why are you convinced that Jesus is the promised Messiah?
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Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem fulfilled which prophecies?
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Jesus died for our sins, but he now rules as Messianic King