Hostile Fulfillment of Prophecy

by Matthew W. Bassford

In Acts 13:27, Paul makes a fascinating claim about the Jews of Jerusalem and their rulers. He notes that even though they did not identify Jesus as the Messiah or recognize Him in the prophecies of the Old Testament, they fulfilled those prophecies in their bad treatment of Him.

This is demonstrably true, and it is vital to our conviction that Jesus is the Son of God. Fulfilled prophecy, after all, is one of the foremost proofs of the inspiration of Scripture. If the Bible predicts something that happened hundreds of years after the prediction, it reveals the intervention of a God who knows the end from the beginning.

These fulfilled prophecies are particularly relevant when they concern Jesus. The Old Testament contains many prophecies about the Messiah. When we see these predictions take place in Jesus’ life, they prove that He is who He claimed to be.

However, there is a way for want-to-be Messiahs to “game the system”. It’s theoretically possible for a man to deliberately seek to fulfill all the prophecies himself. That doesn’t prove that he’s the Messiah, only that he read the prophecies!

In Jesus’ case, though, this is impossible. There are things that Jesus chose to do to fulfill prophecies — riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, for instance. However, many of these prophecies aren’t about Jesus’ actions. They’re about the actions of His hate-filled enemies, men who would have done anything to deny He was the Messiah but unwittingly confirmed His Messiahship through their own choices. Here is a list of only some of the prophecies about Jesus that His enemies fulfilled:

  • They conspired against Him (Psalm 2:1-2; Acts 2:27-28).
  • They valued Him at 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16).
  • They used a trusted friend to betray Him (Psalm 41:9; John 13:21-30).
  • They scattered His followers (Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:56).
  • They condemned Him unjustly (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:22-25).
  • They scourged Him (Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 27:26).
  • They gave Him gall and vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:34).
  • They pierced His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Mark 15:25).
  • They cast lots for His clothes (Psalm 22:18; Matthew 27:35).
  • They made Him a public spectacle (Psalm 22:17; Matthew 27:39-40)
  • They taunted Him with God’s failure to save (Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:41-43).
  • They killed Him (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:50).
  • They allowed Him to be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60).

These prophecies are numerous and specific. Together, the evidence that they offer is overwhelming. When we consider the way that even Jesus’ enemies worked to prove who He was, we can only say along with the centurion who attended His crucifixion, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

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