I grew up hearing that one of the strongest reasons for believing in Jesus is that He fulfilled hundreds of predictions in the Jewish Scriptures. Years later I found myself wondering where most of those prophecies were. Sometimes I found clear and compelling predictions. But more often than not, when I checked the sources for myself I found obscure or mysterious statements, written in the past tense, and referring historically to someone other than a future Messiah. Then at some point I discovered that:
Christ fulfills more than predictions
In the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, he quotes Jesus as saying: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (5:17). Jesus goes on to say that every detail of the Law must be fulfilled (v.18).
Jesus’ own words, then, can help us understand how a Gospel writer like Matthew could repeatedly claim that Jesus fulfills Scripture that is written in the form of someone else’s history rather than a clear prediction of him. As Matthew reflected on specific events in the life of Jesus, he saw how they gave a fullness of meaning not only to prophecy but also to historical patterns and principles in the history of God’s chosen people. All of the symbols and ritual of the sacrifice, the priesthood, the temple, and the religious holy days of Israel were a foreshadowing of him.
To understand how this could be, we need to see that Jesus was not just a Jewish Rabbi from the other side of the tracks. As John Stott writes of Jesus in his classic “Basic Christianity,” “So close was His connection with God that He equated a man’s attitude to Himself with his attitude to God. Thus to know Him was to know God (John 8:19, 14:7); to see Him was to see God (John 12:45, 14:9); to believe in Him was to believe in God (John12:44, 14:1); to receive Him was t receive God (Mark 9:37); to hate Him was to hate God (John 15:23); and to honor Him was to honor God (John 5:23).”
Because Jesus backed up such claims with his wisdom, his power, and his acts of rescuing love, I’ve come to believe that he is more than the source of all truth, scientific or religious. Just as importantly he brings all truth, and every truth of the Bible, to fullness of meaning in himself.
A memory device I’ve used over the years to burn the “completeness” of Jesus into my mind is to think of turning in any direction and seeing him:
Look Back— He is our Creator and God (John 1:1-3; Col 1:15-16)
Look Forward— He is our coming Judge and King (Rev 17:4)
Look Up— He is our Savior and Lord (Luke 2:11)
Look Down— He is our Sustainer and Security (Rom 8:34-39)
Look to the Right— He is our Example and Teacher (Matt 23:10;1Peter 2:21)
Look to the Left— He is our Advocate and Defender (1John 2:1-2)
Look Within— He is our Life and Strength (Gal 2:20)
This is also why I’ve been thinking in my last couple of posts that if we are disillusioned with life, the church, or God himself, it may be an indication that someone or something has distracted and diverted us from focusing on the one who knows and loves us far more than we could ever know or love him.