Why’d He Do It? To Fulfill Prophecy

(Please read LUKE 24:25-27 in your preferred version of the Bible.  I have cited the NIV in the following article.)

Jesus gave His life to keep God’s ancient promises.

“Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students.

“The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students.

“However, Professor Stoner then took their estimates, and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair. Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented (Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 4).

“After examining only eight different prophecies (Idem, 106), they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 10^17.

“To illustrate how large the number 10^17 IS (a figure with 17 zeros), Stoner gave this illustration :

If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They’ll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would’ve had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom (Idem, 106-107). “

<Retrieved from http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/radio034.htm on 3/17/16.>

We’ve spent the weeks of Lent looking at why Jesus surrendered His life on the cross.  Today we find out that He offered Himself because that was the will of God the Father, a decision that He revealed hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

We will learn that this fact helps establish the trustworthy character of God and the reliability of His self-revelation.  Here on this Palm Sunday we will see what the Bible tells us about Jesus Christ the King of Kings is a completely reliable witness.

  1. CONTEXT: Jesus explains His death after the fact.

WHEN? The afternoon of Resurrection Day.

WHO? Two followers of Jesus, Cleopas & his wife.

Their son Simeon would later be head of the Jerusalem church.

Elsewhere, one of Jesus’ female followers named Mary is said to be the wife of “Clopas.”  Pretty similar spelling – same guy?

WHERE?   Emmaus was seven miles northwest of Jerusalem.

HOW? Jesus journeyed with them.  In their culture it was not at all unusual for a teacher to take a walk or trips with their students as they taught.

WHY? They thought it was over; Jesus was dead.

They were leaving Jerusalem and returning home because they thought Jesus’ story concluded.

In the fashion of their culture, they invited the stranger in from the night to share food and shelter.  They probably wanted to hear more of His teaching.

WHAT? They did not understand the meaning of their recent experience.

Jesus appeared to them in disguised form so they would listen to His teaching.  He wanted to correct their misunderstanding.

Another purpose was to benefit all the people who would hear Cleopas and Mary’s testimony, including their son Simeon.

  1. COMMENT: Why this is so important.

While they didn’t recognize Him – probably because they didn’t recognize Him – Jesus taught them.  His teaching was to show one reason for His death and resurrection: that it was to keep all the promises God had made in the Scriptures.

He began by rebuking them as FOOLISH and SLOW OF HEART TO BELIEVE (25).  In the Bible, FOOLISH is a synonym for “unbeliever.”   They are people who perceive the world around them but do not understand it.  For example, the world says it is foolish to believe the Bible is true, Jesus said it is FOOLISH to not believe the Bible is true.

Jesus also rebuked them as being SLOW OF HEART or “dim-witted.”  They were slow to give up their worldly notions to find faith.  It’s significant that a portion of having faith is UNLEARNING what the world has taught us.  It is overcoming skepticism, superstition, and negativity.  Their slowness was in regard to believing ALL THAT THE PROPHETS HAVE SPOKEN (all the promises God made in the Old Testament portions of our Bibles).  One of those promises was that God’s Anointed (chosen) Servant, the CHRIST, would have to first SUFFER and after that, enter His GLORY (26).

It is a theme of this passage that Jesus turned the attention of His followers to the word of God.  V. 32 says He OPENED THE SCRIPTURES to them.  In vs. 44-48, Jesus had essentially this same conversation with the Twelve Disciples.  In v. 45 it is written, THEN HE OPENED THEIR MINDS SO THEY COULD UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES.  A college or seminary education is less important for understanding the Bible than having your mind opened to the truth by Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 2:14 the Apostle Paul explained that a merely worldly mind cannot perceive spiritual things because that knowledge is revealed, not discovered.  It is revealed by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus EXPLAINED to them which parts of the Old Testament were prophecies of the Messiah and how He had fulfilled them.  No one has ever proven the Bible is wrong or at fault, though many have tried.  Instead, the Bible is the utterly reliable guide to our utterly trustworthy God, who will save us to the uttermost!  Both His suffering and His glorification had been predicted in the Scriptures.

All this had been promised in their Scriptures.  Jesus fulfilled more than 350 Old Testament predictions (v. 27)!  In Matthew 5:17, Jesus Himself said that His mission was not to “abolish” the Law and Prophets (what we call the Old Testament) but to “fulfill” them.  This was the mission of His life and His death and His resurrection

Here’s what Matthew meant when he used the word “fulfilled.”  “The Greek term for “fulfilled” is pleroo. The verb was used in the sense of “to fill” something, or “to be filled” (Acts 2:2; Romans 15:13). “Fulfill” was employed of bringing to completion something that had been pledged earlier (cf. Jeremiah 44:25). This is the sense of Old Testament prophecy.

“In the New Testament certain events are said to have occurred in order to fulfill prophecy. The thought is that the thing spoken in prophecy has now been accomplished, and in such passages the word “fulfill” is the practical equivalent of “accomplish,” “complete” (Young 1960, 232).

“J. H. Thayer identified the “fulfilled” texts in Matthew’s Gospel (as listed above)as “sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish” (1958, 518). Danker states it means “to bring to a designed end, fulfill a prophecy, an obligation, a promise . . . of the fulfillment of divine predictions or promises” (2000, 828-829), with the twelve Matthew passages listed. “

<Wayne Jackson, retrieved from https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1418-matthews-use-of-the-term-fulfilled on 3/17/16.>

Here’s how they reflected on it: “WERE NOT OUR HEARTS BURNING WITHIN US WHILE HE TALKED WITH US ON THE ROAD AND OPENED THE SCRIPTURES TO US? (v. 32)

The fact that God can be trusted to keep His promises is not just important, it is essential.  How could we trust our lives, let alone our eternity to anyone who is not trustworthy?  Trust is the foundation of all relationships, including our relationship with God.  The death and resurrection of Jesus confirmed all the promises of God and proved the reliability of His revelation in the Word of God.

Clark Harden wrote about a group of mountain climbers and what we can learn from their experience.

“There was a group of climbers who set out to scale a large mountain in Europe. The view boasted a breathtaking peak of snowcapped rocks.

“On clear days the crested point reigned as king on the horizon. Its white tip jutted into the blue sky inviting admiration and offering inspiration. On days like this the hikers made the greatest progress. The peak stood above them like a compelling goal. Eyes were called upward. The walk was brisk. The cooperation was unselfish. Though many, they climbed as one, all looking to the same summit.

“Yet on some days the peak of the mountain was hidden from view. The cloud covering would eclipse the crisp blueness with a drab, gray ceiling and block the vision of the mountaintop. On these days the climb became arduous. Eyes were downward and thoughts inward. The goal was forgotten. Tempers were short. Weariness was an uninvited companion. Complaints stung like thorns on the trail.

“We’re like that, aren’t we? As long as we can see our dream, as long as our goal is within eyesight, there is no mountain we can’t climb or summit we can’t scale. But take away our vision, block our view of the trail’s end, or ask us to walk awhile in faith, and the result is as discouraging as the journey.”

<From a message entitled, “The Road to Emmaus,” retrieved from http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-road-to-emmaus-clark-harden-sermon-on-disciples-175034.asp on 3/18/16.>

Another benefit to Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy is that it provides evidence that substantiates the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible.  People react to this truth differently:

People who have faith don’t need it.  Faith exists on its own.  Evidence of the kind I offered in my introduction is inspiriting and vindicating, but it’s not strictly necessary.  True faith is circular; it provides its own reason and validates itself.

People who don’t have faith don’t want it.  I’ve done some reading lately by Jewish authors who want nothing to do with Jesus.  They reject any claims that He is the Messiah and offer persuasive, reasoned arguments against it.  I am not at all persuaded, but it’s clear they are.

It is good for us to study the Bible and the objective evidence that supports it.  But most will receive more benefit from a testimony that shows how it makes a difference in us.  The Bible can be approached and argued from all sides, but I rarely hear of people finding faith by losing an argument.

What happens more frequently is that people are convinced by genuine love and good behavior that is consistent with the faith we claim.  We are to prepare to give a good answer to anyone who questions our faith, but the most convincing answers are the ones we back up in everyday life.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s