“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day (Matthew 16:21).”
According to the Old Testament, the Jewish Messiah must die.
It’s crazy to think that this is in the Bible, but the ancient prophets were clear that Messiah must be killed…centuries before Jesus was even born!
There are at least four specific references in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be killed. Psalm 22 was written around 967 BC, Isaiah 53 about 740 BC, Zechariah 12:10 around 520 BC, and Daniel 9:26 in 164 BC.
For the Jews, this is a serious conundrum. Their hope, the Messiah, must be cut off and die. So how then can He be a triumphant King like David and save Israel?
I was discussing this problem and Jesus as the answer with a Jewish man. His difficulty with a Jewish carpenter’s claim to be God was that all men are sinners, and therefore a man from Nazareth could not possibly be God. Pretty simple logic…at first glance.
“So the Almighty made everything, but can’t reveal Himself to us in any form He chooses…even as a man?” I asked. He nodded, “All men are sinners. Therefore, men cannot be God.”
Bethlehem and the site of Jesus’ birth
“But according to your Scriptures Messiah must die. God’s power isn’t limited by what we think He should do,” I offered. “He could appear as a talking kumquat if He wanted to, but if relating to us as humans is paramount, it seems logical He’d become a man and thus make this prophesied death possible. After all, if He wanted to save ants, He’d have become an ant.”
His objection was sound–all sinners die because of sin (Ezekiel 18:20). This spiritual disease infects us all (Romans 6:23), and since God is holy and eternal then He cannot die, as humans must, right? So how then can Messiah (God) die as it is written centuries beforehand?
Jerusalem and the rock area where the crucifixion took place
It’s possible because He can choose to die…not because “of” sin like our curse requires, but “for” sin to rescue us. The Old Testament is clear that the Messiah must die, and that can happen only if he’s human, and therefore He must remain sinless until He dies, just as it is written (Luke 24:46). So why does this matter? Because these four predictions came centuries before Jesus was born!
One of two possible spots for the resurrection in Jerusalem
He even told His disciples before He gave up His life…and that He’d rise again. This predicted “before event” gives us confidence in the truth of the “after event.” Jesus proved He is the God-Man, God-in-the-flesh, by being raised from the dead. Therefore, He has power over sin and death…your death, and your sin.
Death is coming for us all. Jesus reversed the curse and made death a welcomed event. If you’ll genuinely surrender and trust Him, your grave will be as empty as His.