The King and His Kingdom Pt. V
--FAMILIAR WITH SUFFERING
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 700 B.C.
The Crucifixion of Jesus was not an anomaly in how people treated Him:
- He was "run out of town" at several places.
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon- possessed man--and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
- People tried to stone Him.
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me? We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
- Some Jewish leaders conspired to kill Him.
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
- His own family thought He was crazy.
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."
- His brothers told Him to go to a festival, expecting He would be killed.
John 7:1-3, 5
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do." For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
- His disciples abandoned Him.
- He was crucified.
"You are taking a bunch of things out of context -- two sentences here, half a sentence there ..."
It is true that taking a few sentences here and part of a sentence there would not prove anything. But there are OVER FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE references that are considered Messianic prophesies. Taken as a group it becomes obvious they aren't just coincidences.
Also, some of the references, particularly Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 53 clearly are referring to the (at that time) coming Messiah.
Furthermore, in a number of instances, the New Testament authors expressly state "This was to fulfill the prophecy '<whatever>'."
"Aren't these really mainly self-fulfilling prophecies?"
Unless He was operating under the authoirty of God, how could Jesus arrange to fulfill any of the following Messianic prophecies?
- Born in Bethlehem
- Be from Nazareth
- Come out of Egypt (as a young child)
- Descended from Judah
- Descended from Jesse
- Descended from David
- No bones broken
- Betrayed by a friend
- Betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver
- 30 pieces of silver returned
- 30 pieces used to buy the potter's field
- Born of a virgin
- Perform miracles
- R E S U R R E C T I O N ! ! !
"Christians have been taught that Jesus is the Messiah. After they believe that, they just go through the Old Testament twisting things to support their pre-determined view."
Obviously, sometimes this does happen. (The same thing sometimes happens with other types of authorities such as putting a "spin" on the writings of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, etc.) For this reason, it is important to know how passages alleged to be Messianic prophecies were interpreted before the birth of Christ. The Talmud and the Targums greatly help in doing this.
Also, many people who were not Christians became Christians because they saw there were so many statements that all of the statements couldn't just be coincidences. This is particularly common with Jews who converted to Messianic Judaism (especially after comparing Isaiah Chapter 53 with the Gospels.)
"A lot of things Christians claim to be Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah or about recent or future events actually were describing events at the time the 'prophet' spoke."
This is true. However, prophecy scholars have come to realize that many prophetic passages in the Bible have a dual significance: (1) a literal fulfillment, usually within a few decades after the prophecy, and (2) a spiritual fulfillment, often hundreds or even thousands of years later. For instance, the Book of Revelation has adual message: (1) "Hang on, Rome will soon be judged and fall," which it did, and (2) the final defeat of evil by Jesus.