The Need for Jesus (Part 1) - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)
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Biblical Wisdom Faith
October 10, 2016

The Need for Jesus (Part 1)

“These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. -- Luke 24:44-45

Wouldn’t you love to hear a tape of Jesus’ talk showing how He fulfilled the Old Testament? I would. But we don’t need such a tape. We have the New Testament! The New Testament is Jesus’ interpretation of the Old Testament. In sum, His interpretation is this: “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me.” (John 5:39) Jesus did not start a new religion. He fulfilled an old one. He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)

In this article I will not list Old Testament prophecies such as “born in Bethlehem” (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:4-6) or “buried with the rich” (Isaiah 53:9, Matthew 27:57-60) and cite their fulfillment by Jesus. Any number of study Bibles do that quite well. Instead, I plan to show how Jesus of Nazareth fulfills all of the promises made by God in His covenants with David, Israel, Abraham, and Adam.

English-speaking Christians call the Hebrew Scriptures the “Old Testament.” A better translation of Palaia Diatheke, the name of the “Old Testament” in the original Greek, is “Old Covenant.” God made the Old, or Mosaic, Covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai. The Old Covenant is recorded in Exodus 19-24 and more generally in Exodus to Deuteronomy. The Scriptures written in connection with the Old Covenant contain: 1) the Law, with Genesis as a Prologue to the Covenant; 2) the Prophets, Early: Joshua to II Kings, covering the history of Israel in Canaan, and Later: Isaiah to Malachi; and 3) the Writings, I Chronicles to Song of Solomon, covering Israel’s later history and its Wisdom literature. When Jesus said that all things about Him written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled, He referred to the entire Hebrew Bible I have just outlined, the Psalms standing for all the Writings.

We are going to begin with the Later Prophets and generally work backward through the Old Testament. At the same time we are going to work forward through the New Testament. Jesus’ followers first understood how He fulfilled the Covenant with David, second how He fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant, and later how He fulfilled the Covenants with Abraham and Adam. We’ll begin with the Jewish longing for a Messiah, promised clearly by the Later Prophets.

After a four hundred year rule King David’s dynasty ended. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, took Israel into captivity in Babylon, and left no son of David on the throne. But God had promised David in a covenant that a son of his would always sit on the throne in Jerusalem. That covenant is recorded in II Samuel 7 and celebrated in Psalms 89 and 132. With Jerusalem’s fall and the end of Judah’s independence, it appeared that God had broken His covenant.

The prophet Jeremiah witnessed Jerusalem’s fall and the crisis of faith godly Israelites felt. God’s word came to Jeremiah: Thus says the Lord, “If you can break My covenant for the day, and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne.” (Jeremiah 33:20-21)

But Jerusalem fell, and for six hundred years no son of David sat on the throne. Faithful Jews, however, believed Jeremiah’s word and similar prophecies by Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, Zechariah, and all the prophets: that God would one day raise up a son of David to sit on his throne. They called the coming King the Anointed One, Messiah in Hebrew, Christ in Greek.

What does the New Testament say about Jesus? It opens with this announcement: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David.” (Matthew 1:1) It closes with these words: “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16) The night Jesus was born, the angel told the shepherds that he had good news for all the people: “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

God kept his covenant promise to David and fulfilled His word through Jeremiah by sending Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, to be Israel’s King. When Jesus asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered for them all: “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29) When we call Jesus of Nazareth “Jesus Christ,” we confess that He is the Messiah, the son of David, sitting on His throne in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Part 2 of the series "How Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament" coming next week...

-Dr. Bill Edgar, Geneva College Board of Trustees Member and Former President