This Christmas Season, our congregation has been thinking about answers to the question, “Why He Came”. Over and over again in Scripture, we are told why Jesus came. His life, miracles, teachings, death and resurrection all reveal a purpose being worked out. Christians believe that Jesus was not simply another in a long line of martyrs for peace, justice and the like who fell afoul of the rulers of his day and were killed. Jesus was different. His conception, birth, childhood and adult life all were directed towards a specific mission. On the cross, when he cried out, “It is finished” we believe he was stating that he had now done what he came to do. He had been the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Before that, he had demonstrated the wisdom, love, and power of God in a unique way. The utterance, “It is finished” was the statement of a man who has accomplished what he set out to do. He had been God with us.
Matthew often shares something about Jesus, then quotes the Old Testament and says something like, “This happened so that this passage of the Old Testament might be fulfilled.” In this blog, I am looking at just a few of many prophesies that Jesus fulfilled.
In Genesis 3, God tells the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15). As Adam and Eve were being punished for their sin in the Garden of Eden, God prophesied that one would come who would undo the curse of sin and crush the head of the Evil One. Christians believe that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. In his sacrificial death, the power of Satan, the Accuser of the human race, was defeated.
Later in Genesis, 49 Jacob says of his son, Judah, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his” (Gen. 49:10). In this passage Jacob prophesies that it will not be from his eldest son from whom Israel’s leader would come nor would it be from Joseph his favorite son, but from Judah. Jesus came to fulfill this prophecy. David came from the line of Judah, as did Jesus.
David was promised that he would always have an heir on the Throne of Israel. On the other hand, he was also promised that, if he or his family were unfaithful to God, the crown would be taken from his house. In the birth of Jesus, born of the House and Linage of David, both prophecies were fulfilled. Jesus was the true heir of David, always and in all ways faithful to God. He is the everlasting heir to David!
Psalm 72, a royal psalm, says of the heir of David, “May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him” (Psalm 72:11). Christians believe that, in the coming of the Wise Men, this prophecy was fulfilled.
In Isaiah, we are told that “The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:11). At Christmas, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus, whom Christians have always celebrated as fulfilling that prophesy—Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and he has always been referred to as Immanuel, which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
The Prophet Micah said, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:10). Thus, it was prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem in Judea, a small village a few miles outside of Jerusalem. The Messiah would not be just another man, but one “of ancient origin”—the eternal Word of God was with God at the creation and by whom and through whom all things were made. Tonight, we celebrate the birth of Jesus in just that place, born in Bethlehem, fulfilling this prophecy. He is a human son of Bethlehem, and he is the Eternal Son of God.
In Isaiah 9, we are told “In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:1-2). In this passage, we learn that the Messiah will come from the Galilee. Jesus was raised in Nazareth in this exact area of Israel, fulfilling this prophecy.
In this same chapter we are told, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Here we learn that the Messiah will reign on David’s throne and be called “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” “Prince of Peace.” We are told that his kingdom will grow and grow, and last forever. Jesus came to fulfill these prophecies. Since the coming of Jesus and the birth of the church at Pentecost, Jesus has been and is called by all these names, and the Kingdom of his disciples continues to grow.
One of the most precious promises of Isaiah reads: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth” (Isaiah 11:1-4). Here we are told that Spirit of God will rest upon the Messiah in a special way so that he has understanding, power and justice in a special way. Jesus came to fulfill this prophecy. Over and over again in the Gospels we see Jesus as one filled with the Spirit like no one before or since with great power and with a love for the least of these. Such a life could only come from God. Such a life could only be God with us.
Isaiah 42 foretells that the Messiah will be a different sort of leader when he says, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged until he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope” (Isaiah 42:1-4). We are told in Isaiah 42 that God will raise up a servant who will be filed with God’s Spirit and act in gentleness and kindness with complete justice for all. In Jesus, we saw revealed the true nature of servant leadership in the person of one who sacrifices self and selfish ambition for others, seeks justice for all, and will not be satisfied until everyone receives justice. This servant was to be a true and great teacher—one who teaches the true nature of God and godliness. Jesus came to fulfill these prophecies.
Finally, the prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, that he would bear our sorrows, and that he would be the source of our healing. Isaiah put it this way: “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6). Jesus came to fulfill these prophecies. He was one who was rejected by others, suffered for our sins, whose punishment was for us, and by whose wounds we are healed.
These and other, similar passages tell us that one reason Jesus came was to fulfill the promises of God. He came to be God with Us, the always-faithful God who is and always will be God with us. In Christ, God took on human form and dwelt among us “Full of Grace and Truth” so that we might see in human form what God intended us to be like as his children, made in his image, and filled with his Spirit. On Christmas Eve we celebrate God’s faithfulness to his promises given over hundreds of years to prophets and others—promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
We live in challenging times. We all face or will face difficult circumstances. We have fears about the future. Whatever our circumstances, in the faithful God, Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled all the promises of God and of the Prophets, we can find hope and our anchor for all of our days and all of our circumstances. This Christmas Season, as our church looked at our theme, “Why He Came,” we saw that Jesus came to inaugurate God’s kingdom of peace, to forgive our sins, to heal us, to preach and to be Good News, to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament, to give us new life, and to call us to be his disciples.
At Christmas, we pause for a few moments in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives to rest in the assurance that he has come, he did come, he is here, and he will come again. He will come into our lives again and again with mercy and grace, as we need him to come. He will come at the end of history to complete God’s will for the heavens and the earth. He comes quietly. He comes unexpectedly. He comes without pomp and circumstance. He comes as a servant. He comes to us as a lowly, rejected savior, never forcing his way, but always working in love. He comes to us, just as he came on that night so long ago. He comes as a quiet voice, as a loving touch, as a humble and unexpected guest. He comes and comes, if only we will let him into our hearts.
Copyright 2014, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved