“Art thou he?” ― Matthew 11:3
Soon men and women and boys and girls all around the world will celebrate the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was born into this world two thousand years ago. Everywhere people are already talking and singing about the birth of the Christ child. It is most fitting that the world should pause once a year to remember the birth of One upon whom so many build their hopes.
All believers rest the hopes of their immortal souls upon him. 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, then he is not the Son of God; his obedience to God is of no benefit to us; his birth is of no greater importance than the birth of any other great and noble man; his death upon the cross has no saving virtue; and we are yet in our sins.
We confess with the Apostles of old, "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 have claimed to be Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Perhaps it would be good for us at this season of the year to ask of Jesus of Nazareth what John the Baptist asked of him ―"Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" (Matt. 11:3).
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 Scriptures of the Old Testament that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph and Mary, who was crucified at Jerusalem two thousand years ago, is indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God.
We read in 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 would be 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 those three verses of Psalm 40, the Prophet David tells us four things by which the true Messiah of Israel must be identified. And 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, and (4.) He will perfectly accomplish the will of God.
The Old Testament Scriptures clearly identify Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the Son of the living God. The types, promises, 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, Jesus.
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 (Heb. 10:1-4).
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 has served its purpose and been fulfilled by Christ it has no other use, and ceases to have power over men (Rom. 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 (1 Sam. 15:22; Ps. 50:7-13; 51:16-17; Isa. 1:11-14; Dan. 9:27). These five passages from the Old Testament clearly demonstrate 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 (Jer. 31:31-34; cf. Heb. 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 (Gal. 3:24-25). It had no other purpose. And when Christ came, the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Old Testament did cease to be observed. At least a thousand years before Christ came, David 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 are now removed, taken out of the way. “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (Heb. 10:9).
All the Jewish sacrifices and ceremonies ceased to have virtue 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 of Israel itself ceased.
The Rent Veil
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 (Matt. 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?