Chapter 53

 

“Who is this?”

 

“Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.”

(Luke 9:7-11)

 

When he had heard of the great works Christ had done, Herod asked, “Who is this, of whom I hear such things?” All believers rest the hopes of their immortal souls upon the fact that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. We believe that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 5:1). He is the Foundation upon which we have built our hopes of eternal life. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, promised by God in all the Old Testament prophets.

 

Peter's confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16), is the foundation of the entire Christian world, the church of God, and the gospel of God. If Jesus of Nazareth is not the Christ, the Messiah promised in the Old Testament Scriptures, he is not the Son of God. If Jesus of Nazareth is not the Christ, his obedience to God is of no benefit to us. If Jesus of Nazareth is not the Christ, his death upon the cross has no saving virtue and we are yet in our sins. If Jesus of Nazareth is not the Christ, if he is not the Messiah, if he is not God incarnate, he was the slickest, most devious charlatan who ever lived.

 

Our faith says, "We believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:69). But are you really sure? There have been many others who claimed to be Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Perhaps it would be good for us to ask of Jesus what John the Baptist asked of him — "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" (Matthew 11:3). Herod asked, — “Who is this?

 

Suppose you were witnessing to a Jew and he said to you, "Show me from the Old Testament Scriptures that the Jesus you worship is the Messiah." Could you do it? I want to show you from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph and Mary, who was crucified at Jerusalem more than two thousand years ago, is indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 

To answer Herod’s question, look first at Psalm 40:6-8. — "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” It is impossible to honestly apply these words to anyone but the Messiah. Indeed, the Jewish commentators from ancient times have said that this Psalm is a messianic prophecy. And, of course, the Apostle declares in the Book of Hebrews (10:5-10) that this prophecy is fulfilled in the Person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. In these three verses the Prophet David tells us four things which will identify the true Messiah of Israel. These four things find their fulfillment only in Jesus Christ our Lord. Here David tells us that when the Christ, the Messiah comes...

1.    The sacrifices and ceremonies of legal worship will cease.

2.    He will be Jehovah's voluntary Servant.

3.    The body of Scripture prophecy will be fulfilled.

4.    He will perfectly accomplish the will of God.

 

Search the Scriptures and see for yourself that the types, promise, and prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures weave a garment that is tailor made to fit only one man. That man is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. And that man is our Savior, the Lord Jesus.

 

The End of the Law

 

First, David tells us that when the Messiah has come all the sacrifices and ceremonies of legal worship would cease. — “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire.” The sacrifices, ceremonies and laws of the Mosaic economy were never intended to be a means of salvation. God never had pleasure and satisfaction in them. They could not remove sin, satisfy justice or make men righteous before God (Hebrews 10:1-10). The sacrifices and ceremonies of the law were only useful as types and shadows of Christ to show the nature and necessity of his redemptive work. Once they were fulfilled they must cease to be, because they have no other service.

 

            The law given by Moses was designed by God to identify and expose sin, to deter men from deeds of iniquity, and to show the necessity of a Substitute. Once the law had served its purpose, since it has been fulfilled by Christ, it has no other use and has ceased to have power over men (Romans 10:4).

 

            The Old Testament Scriptures constantly reminded the Jews that God had no regard for their sacrifices and ceremonies except as they typified Christ and were observed by faith in him.

 

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

 

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?” (Psalms 50:7-13)

 

“For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalms 51:16-17)

 

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.” (Isaiah 1:11-14)

 

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:27)

 

            These five passages from the Old Testament Scriptures, read without comment, demonstrate clearly that the sacrifices and ceremonies of legal worship were never intended to be perpetual. They were only temporary pictures of Christ. Even the Mosaic covenant, as set forth in what we commonly call “The Ten Commandments,” was only designed to be a temporary covenant (Jeremiah. 31:31-34; cf. Hebrews 8:7-13). The law of God as a covenant, a rule of life and the revelation of God’s righteous requirements from men was designed to lead us to Christ, by whom it is fulfilled (Galatians 3:24-25). And when Christ came, the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Old Testament did cease to be observed.

 

            David, at least a thousand years before Christ came, intimated that when he came, he would accomplish that which no sacrifice, ceremony, or law could accomplish (Redemption, Justification, Righteousness and Forgiveness). The laws, sacrifices, and ceremonies of Israel were only scaffolding, temporarily necessary for the building of his kingdom, but now removed. All the Jewish sacrifices and ceremonies ceased to have significance when Christ died. And all ceased to exist when God destroyed both Jerusalem and Judaism in 70 A.D. The priesthood ceased. The temple ceased. The sacrifices ceased. The nation ceased!

 

            Here is the first evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah. When he finished his work, the sacrifices and ceremonies of legal worship ceased. To demonstrate it, the veil of the temple was ripped apart. — “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51). Though the Jews look for a future Messiah and deny that Jesus is the Christ, their hopes are as foolish as they are vain. — How could this prophecy be fulfilled again?

 

Jehovah’s Servant

 

            Second, David shows us that the Messiah, the Christ, must be a man who is Jehovah’s Voluntary Servant (Exodus 21:1-6). The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world and performed his work as the voluntary Servant of his Father (Isaiah 42:1-4; 50:5-7; Hebrews 10:5-7; John 10:16-18; Luke 12:50).

 

            He who is Jehovah’s Voluntary Servant is Jehovah’s equal! All angels, men, creatures, devils and events must serve God, because he is the Creator of all things. All rational beings are morally obligated to serve God, because we live upon his bounty. But Christ came to serve the Father voluntarily. He owed nothing and had nothing to gain, for he is himself Jehovah. That Man who is the Christ is himself God (Psalm 45:6-7).

 

            Jehovah’s Servant came into the world with a specific mission to accomplish (Matthew 1:21). Throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, Messiah was promised, looked for and trusted as that One who would come to restore his fallen people to the everlasting favor of God, by putting away their sins (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke. 4:18). Either Jesus of Nazareth has effectually redeemed and saved God’s elect, or he is not the Christ. The Christ of Arminian, freewill religion is a false christ. We know he is, because Messiah’s eternal glory and exaltation is dependent and conditioned upon the success of his redemptive, saving work (Psalms 2:7-8; 65:4; 110:3). The Lord God declares of his righteous Servant, whom he chose to be our Savior, “He shall not fail!” (Isaiah 42:4). And fail he will not (John 6:37-40; 10:16; Hebrews 10:10).

 

Prophecy Fulfilled

 

            Third, the Prophet David assured us that when the Christ, the Messiah, has come, the Volume of Scripture prophecy would be fulfilled. — “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.” These words, “the volume of the book,” may refer to the book of God’s secret, eternal decrees (Revelation 5:1; 10:2); but they certainly refer to the Written Revelation of God contained in the Old Testament Scriptures.

 

            The writings of the Old Testament prophets abound in predictions of the Messiah, the Christ. God promised Abraham, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” When Jacob blessed the tribe of Judah, he spoke of Shiloh to whom the gathering of the people would be. Moses spoke of that Prophet whom the Lord God would raise up, whom the people of God would hear. In the Psalms and the prophets Messiah is given a variety of titles: “The Anointed of the Lord,” “The King,” “David’s Lord,” “The Child Born,” “The Son Given,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” “The Prince of Peace,” “God’s Servant Whom he Upholds,” “Messiah the Prince,” “God’s Elect in Whom he Delights,” “The Branch,” “The Lord Our Righteousness,” “The Messenger of the Covenant.”

 

            All these names and titles belong to the Messiah. But are they all fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth? If they are, then he is the Christ. If they are not, we must look for another. The prophecies of the Old Testament give us eight specific things which must characterize the Messiah. By these eight things, the Christ is identified. And these eight things can be, with honesty, applied to no man in history, past or future, except Jesus of Nazareth, who is indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 

          1. The time of Messiah’s coming was clearly marked out in prophecy. — God told no one the day and hour when Christ would come. But he did identify the time in history. Those looking forward to the coming of Christ could not predict it. But those looking back cannot mistake it. Christ has come! The coming of Messiah must fit into a very specific time frame. It had to be before the destruction of civil government in Judah (Genesis 49:10), but while the temple was still standing in Jerusalem (Haggai 2:6-9). Messiah had to appear about the middle of Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9:24-27), which would be 453-457 years after the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem began (33 A.D.), the year that Christ died (Daniel 9:24-27). Thirty-seven years later (70 A.D.) Jerusalem was destroyed. The Messiah had to come into the world during the time that Jesus of Nazareth lived upon the earth. He could not have come at any other time.

 

            2. The place where Messiah would be born was plainly foretold. — “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, (NOT ZEBULON, BUT EPHRATAH!) though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

 

            3. The family from which Messiah must come was the house of David (Psalm 132:11; Isaiah 11:1). The Jews debated about many things. But they never questioned the genealogy of the Lord Jesus.

 

            4. And all the miracles performed by the Lord Jesus declare him to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of David (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5-6; 42:6-7; Matthew 11:2-4).

 

            5. The Messiah must be one who comes as a King distinguished by his humiliation, meekness and lowliness (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-9).

 

            6. It was prophesied that the Messiah must suffer and die by the hands of wicked men.—”Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself” (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53:1-12). Our Lord’s tormenters used the very words and performed the very deeds he had predicted by his prophets (See Psalm 22). Those words which describe the betrayal, shame, crucifixion and death of the Christ could find fulfillment only in the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

            7. The Scriptures declared plainly that Messiah would rise from the dead before his body had begun to decay (Psalm 16:9-11; Isaiah 53:10-12).

 

            8. And the prophets plainly asserted that Messiah, the Christ, would set up his kingdom among the Gentiles by the outpouring of his Spirit upon them (Isaiah 49:5-6; Joel 2:28-32; Galatians 3:13-14).

 

            Here are the prophecies given by David and fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, by which we know and are sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God:

1.    He put an end to the sacrifices and ceremonies of legal worship by fulfilling them.

2.    He came into the world as Jehovah’s voluntary Servant.

3.    He fulfilled the volume of Old Testament prophecy to the letter.

 

God’s Will Performed

 

            But I have saved the best until the last. Here is the greatest, most blessed assurance we have. By this, above all else, we know that Jesus our Savior is the Christ. — David tells us that the Christ, the Messiah, whoever he is, will perfectly accomplish the will of God. – “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”

 

            When the Lord Jesus came into this world, he came with delight to do his Father’s will. He delighted in that of which God approves. He delighted in that which God had appointed. And the law of God was in his heart, so that both inwardly and outwardly, he was perfectly holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sin. — He knew no sin!

 

            We know that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God, because he perfectly performed all the precepts of God’s revealed will in the law. — He brought in an everlasting righteousness. He freely yielded himself to all the performances of God’s providential will. His life showed his heart’s desire and determination, which he spoke in Gethsemane, — “Not my will, thy will be done!” Our Lord Jesus made complete satisfaction and propitiation to God’s justice, satisfying the penalty of the law. And in doing these things he accomplished the complete salvation of God’s elect (Hebrews 10:5-14).

 

            Christ came to do the Father’s will. He came to save his people. And he has done it. We know that Jesus is the Christ, because God accepted his work (Romans 1:9-10; 8:32-34; 1 John 5:1).

 

            “Who is this?” Jesus is the Christ. We know he is because he has fulfilled all that God said the Messiah would do. — He put an end to legal sacrifices and ceremonies. — He came as a voluntary Savior. — He accomplished all the prophecies. — He performed all the will of God. We who believe know that Jesus is the Christ, because he has been revealed in us by the power of His Spirit in saving grace; and his blood, applied to our hearts, has purged our consciences of guilt before God. We prove his Divinity, Messiahship, and Saving Power by faith. — We trust him. — “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69).

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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