This is the second argument in the 10 Reasons To Think Christianity is true series.
In the first video I argued that we have reason to think Christianity is true because of the divine claims of Jesus. If Jesus wasn’t God, then He was some kind of bad man, a morally corrupt liar, or an intellectual corrupt lunatic. In other words, given His extreme claims, Jesus can’t be just a “good teacher” and if He wasn’t a liar or a lunatic then we should accept His claim to be God.
That is the baseline. It is the first argument in a cumulative case for Christianity.
Now we add to it. The second reason to think that Christianity is true is because Jesus fulfilled a set of Messianic prophecies that were written about Him, centuries in advance.
So in other words, not only did Jesus claim to be God but He also backed up that claim by fulfilling prophecies made about Him.
The Argument From Fulfilled Messianic Prophecy
This is precisely one of the arguments Jesus made about himself and quite frequently. Referring to the Old Testament He said to “search the Scriptures” and you will find Him. Jesus himself thought that the prophecies so clearly pointed to him as their fulfillment that he thought that denying that conclusion was because one had a “hardness of heart” rather than a sincere intellectual problem. (Luke 24:25)
How does this argument work? Let’s state the argument this way:
If the life of Jesus fulfills a significant set of Messianic prophecies, then the religion He taught is true
The life of Jesus fulfills a significant set of Messianic prophecies
Therefore the religion He taught is true
Now by “significant set” here I mean having enough details to specify who the prophecy is made about, beyond reasonable doubt. It is like if an expert artist started drawing a picture of George Washington, a significant set of lines would be enough lines to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was a picture of George Washington.
The truth of the first premise seems pretty obvious. It simply means there would be true prophecies made about Jesus, centuries in advance, which is something only God can do. This would give a certain divine stamp of approval on the teachings of Jesus and so the religion He taught would be true.
So the main premise in question is the second premise. Did Jesus fulfill a significant set of prophecies made about Him?
Imagine if you had a pile of puzzle pieces. Just the pile, nothing else. It would be very difficult to put those pieces together without some kind of interpretative key – something to make sense of the pieces. In this case, you need the box top.
The messianic prophecies about Jesus work in a similar way.
We start with a hypothesis in hand, viz., that Jesus of Nazareth is possibly the object of ancient prophecy, and then we test that hypothesis by looking at the data.
When we do this, we find a story that bears a remarkable resemblance to the life of Jesus. (Remember that it is undisputed that all of the prophecies below were written between 1,000–200 years before Jesus was born.)
That The Life Of Jesus Fulfills A Significant Set Of Ancient Messianic Prophecies
There are many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. For the sake of discussion here I am going to limit the list to 16 major prophecies that seem to refer to Jesus.
For the sake of time I’m going to provide a very plausible interpretation of these texts along with the Old Testament citation. You are welcome to check the verses out for yourself to verify that my paraphrase is accurate, as many have done over the last two millennia.
The Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah and the House of David. (Gen 49:10, 2 Sam 7:12)
The Messiah will come into this world by way of some kind of a special birth (possibly a virgin). (Gen 3:15 and Isa 7:14)
The Messiah will be born in the town of Bethlehem and be both in time and yet timeless and eternal. (Micah 5:2)
The messiah will have both a human and divine nature. (Isaiah 9:6–7, Psalm 45, Psalm 110, Dan 7, and Zechariah 11)
The Messiah will be both the Son of David but also David’s “Lord.” (Psalm 110)
The Messiah will be both a king and a priest. (Psalms 110, Zechariah 6:12–13)
The messiah will work a ministry of miracles. (Isaiah 35:5–7, Isaiah 49:6–7, Isaiah 61:1–3)
The Messiah will be rejected by his own Jewish people. (Ps 118:22, Isa 49:4, Isa 53:3)
The Messiah will be betrayed by even his own friend. (Zechariah 13:6, Zechariah 11:12–13, Psalm 55:12–14, Psalm 41:9)
Despised and rejected, weak and thirsty, the messiah’s hands and feet will be pierced, and during his death, people will think he is forsaken by God, and all who see him will mock him, wagging their heads saying, “He trusted in God; let him deliver and rescue him.” (Psalm 22, Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah 12:10) Some who stare at the messiah will cast lots for his garments. (Psalm 22:1–18)
The Messiah will bear the penalty for mankind’s sins. (Dan 9:26b, Isa 53)
After dying, the messiah will be buried in a rich man’s grave. (Isaiah 53:9)
The Messiah will rise from the dead. (Ps 2:7, Ps 16:9–11, Ps 17:15, Isa 53)
The Messiah will be light to the Gentiles so that even the non-Jew will worship the God of Israel because of him. (Gen 12:3, Gen 22:18, Isa 42:6, Isa 49:6, Isa 52, Mal 1:11)
The Messiah will establish an everlasting kingdom, and there will be no end to his government. (Ps 22, Isaiah 9, Dan 7:13–14)
The Messiah will visit the Second Temple (Mal 3:1, Haggai 2:6-9) but since we know from history that the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., all of the above prophecies must happen before that time.
When you take all of these prophecies together you literally get a summary of the life of Jesus. If someone just showed this list of details to you and said they would give you ten thousand dollars who this story is about, what would you say?
These major points of messianic prophecy, when taken collectively, offer an astonishing series of details and shows a stunning and quite remarkable correspondence to the events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, as depicted in the Gospels. This is undeniable.
How do we explain this?
That so many different prophets, writing at different times, centuries before Jesus ever existed, could come up with the messianic story that so closely matches the life of Jesus by sheer coincidence is so utterly and evidently absurd that such a notion is not worthy of any serious refutation.
Jesus fulfilled a set of essential prophecies within a definite time frame (before the destruction of the Second Temple).
He was born where the prophets said, came into the world when the prophets said he would, performed miracles, and was rejected and despised and suffered a cruel crucifixion, but then he was exalted and reportedly continued his activity after his death.
He even brought “light” to the non-Jewish world in that now even the Gentiles worship the God of Israel. (Somehow this executed Jewish “criminal” inaugurated a religion with over one billion followers from all over the world.)
All of this happened as the prophecies said it would.
Therefore we can conclude that it is reasonable to think that the life of Jesus matches a significant set of Messianic prophecies and that, therefore, it is reasonable to think that Christianity is true.