How Do We Know that Jesus was the Promised Redeemer?

Like someone lost in a cave without a torch, groping about in the pitch darkness, all mankind is disconnected from God and is futilely searching for meaning and purpose in life.  Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God was so devastating that the aftershock from the collapse of the relational bridge between them is still felt by mankind today. Since then, neither the physical world nor mankind has been the same. The Bible is a story of God’s plan for restoring the bridge and how He has gone about its construction.

 

Sin creates a debt

When we do something harmful, we have a responsibility to correct the situation, to make it right with the party that has been harmed. Our sin creates a debt with God that needs to be paid. This is not only true for behavior like lying or stealing, it holds true for all wrongful actions. Whenever we cause relational damage with others, there are things we need to do to attempt to repair the damage. Oftentimes we even say that someone “owes” to make it right with the other person.  We sense when a relational imbalance has been created and, like a debt that is owed to another, we must make payment to make it right again.

In the case of Adam’s sin, God told him beforehand that if he sinned, the damage would be so great that the price was death—a debt so high that only a qualifying life could pay it. Worse, like a rock tossed into the waters of a calm lake, Adam’s sin rippled out, touching every future generation.

 

God had to intervene

The problem Adam’s disobedience caused was so great that it required God to intervene. God had a plan for a bridge to span the chasm between Himself and man and He knew it would require a lot of time and effort to build. God also stepped in and allowed mankind to offer the lives of animals for the debt of sin, but that was only paying the interest on the mortgage. Animal sacrifice was a temporary solution; something more would be required to fully satisfy this debt.

 

God reveals His plan to man

God’s plan was first revealed when He informed Adam and Eve that one of their descendants was eventually going to come who would destroy the Serpent (the Devil), who had deceived them and brought sin into the world.

Genesis 3:15 

“And 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.”

Although the Serpent would “strike his heel,” the one who would pay the debt of humankind would deliver a mortal wound to him when he “crushed his head.” Striking someone’s heel will hurt a lot, but a crushed head is a fatal blow. From that day forward, mankind knew there was the hope of a special Redeemer coming in the future who would fix the problems that the first man, Adam, had caused.

 

The Bible is a record of God’s plan and His moves to bring about His plan

Everything in the Bible, aside from the first few chapters, is a record of God’s plan and the moves He has made throughout history to bring it to pass. In the pages of the Bible, God reveals His plan to send a man, a very special man, who alone would have the proper qualifications to pay the debt Adam and Eve had created. Even though God told Adam and Eve that this man was coming someday, no one would have any idea who he was, unless of course God described for them who they should be looking for.

 

How will we know who the Redeemer is?

A number of years ago, I needed to find a construction job site on a remote stretch of the highway that leads to Lake Tahoe in northern California. It is a rural stretch of roadway that winds through the mountains with the river on one side and the mountain slopes covered in evergreen trees on the other—not an easy place to find a site. In order to find job sites there we always had to rely on detailed descriptions of landmarks and use mile markers. In a similar way, God gave mankind various signs to be on the lookout for. God said He was sending a man to repair the damage between God and mankind, but like a traveler without a roadmap, how would people know who he was when he came?

Over thousands of years, God provided various descriptions of this Redeemer.  These signs involved his family background, where he would come from, where he would live, and things that he would do and say. These descriptions were given to prophets in the Old Testament; collectively there are over 300 of them. The Jews knew this man as the Messiah, meaning the “deliverer” or “savior”—he was going to deliver mankind from the predicament Adam had placed us in.

 

Prophetic signposts

Throughout history God has provided some very clear signposts concerning the lineage of the Redeemer. He would be a man, just as Adam was, and also like Adam, God would be his Father. The following are some of the specific details of his family bloodline.

 

Concerning his lineage

  1. He must be a human, from the race of Adam

While Adam and Eve were still in the Garden, God gave them the promise that He was going to send someone who would straighten out the mess they had created (Genesis 3:15, as quoted previously). Essentially the message was spoken to the Deceiver: that the woman was going to have a child and, although the Serpent would harm him, he would destroy the Serpent.

In this message, God revealed that the one who was coming would be an “offspring” of the woman, meaning that he would be a human descendant of Eve. The Serpent would harm him (striking his heel) but he would eventually kill the Serpent (crushing his head).

The first Adam messed up God’s creation, and it was only through a “second Adam” that man could be redeemed and creation be put back in order. In the Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul gave the insight that the first Adam was a “pattern” of the Messiah, which is why at times Jesus is referred to as the “second Adam.”

Romans 5:14

Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.” 

The authors of the book One God & One Lord provide the following insight:

“There are many people in the Old Testament who could be called “types of Christ.” But this is the only place in the New Testament that directly points back to a particular person who set the pattern for who the Messiah would be like. Adam was a “…pattern of the one to come…”[1]

The first signpost is clear: the Messiah would be a man just like the first Adam, and he would be an offspring of the woman. Though the Serpent would harm him, the Messiah would eventually deliver a death blow to him.

  1. His lineage would be traced through a specific human family

As time went on, God disclosed that the Savior would come through a specific family line. This narrowed the possibilities considerably from the whole human race down to a select bloodline. Around 400 years after the flood of Noah, God selected a man named Abraham, and because Abraham completely trusted Him, God promised him that he would be the father of a great nation and that “all peoples would be blessed through him.” This was a prophetic indication that the Redeemer would come from Abraham’s bloodline because of his faithfulness to God.

Genesis 12:2-3

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

This promise was made to Abraham so that he could instruct his children and household on the ways of God. The intent was that his offspring would be faithful to God, and that through them God could bring about the Redeemer.

Genesis 18:17-19

“Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

In tracing Abraham’s descendants, we see that God renewed this promise to Abraham’s son Isaac, and again to his son Jacob. After Jacob, the promise was made to his son Judah, who was the patriarch of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. We can trace this through various passages in the Book of Genesis.[2]

  1. The Messiah would be called “the Son of David”

Over 900 years after Abraham, God again made an unconditional covenant with David in which He promised that the Messiah would come from David’s descendants and, like David, he would be a king—but his kingdom would endure forever. Once again God narrowed down the possibilities of the Messiah’s lineage. (2 Sam. 7; 1 Chron. 17:11-14; 2 Chron. 6:16) 

  1. The Son of God

One of the most essential requirements for a man to be the Redeemer of mankind was that he would have to have God as his Father. The phrase “Son of God” is a very specific term reserved for beings that are directly created by God. Consider the following explanation by John Schoenheit:

 The [phrase] ‘son of God’ in the Hebrew is bene Elohim, which is simply the sons of God, bene: son of (you might remember the movie Ben Hur. The man in the movie was Judah ben Hur, Judah the son of Hur) and bene Elohim is a son of God. If you check the Old Testament in the Bible, when someone was a ‘son of God,’ a bene Elohim, they were in some way created or formed by God. Adam, the first man ever, who had no mother and father, is called in Luke 3:38, in the genealogy, a ‘son of God.’ Notice that none of the other men in the genealogies of the Old Testament were called ‘sons of God.’[3]

In order for Jesus to be a Son of God, He would have had to create in Jesus’ mother the genetic material normally contributed by the male. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary announcing God’s intention to bring the Redeemer through her, she asked, “How will this be since I am a virgin?”[4] The angel described the possibility in the following way:

Luke 1:35

“The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of David:

Psalm 2:7

“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, `Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee.'”

  1. A perfect sheep from the flock

It was the first man, Adam, who violated the covenant he had with God, and therefore it would require another man to restore that breach. Since the penalty for the disobedience was death, it would require the death of a perfect sacrifice to pay this price. God provided an example of this sacrifice through the Jewish Feast of Passover. The Jews were instructed that a sheep had to be taken from the flock, just as the coming Messiah would be from the flock of humanity. Like the Passover lamb for the feast, the Messiah would have to be perfect and without blemish, meaning without spiritual, physical, or moral defect. (Exod. 12:3-13)

Concerning the Redeemer’s birth and upbringing

In addition to Jesus’ bloodline from Judah, to David, and finally through Mary, there were also specific prophetic signposts about his mother, his place of birth and upbringing, and the conditions surrounding his childhood.

  1. Born to a young woman

As a result of improper translations of the Hebrew text, many Christians believe that the Prophet Isaiah foretold that the Redeemer would be born to a virgin. What Isaiah had actually stated was that a “young woman will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel,”[5]  although the testimony of the Scripture is that Jesus’ mother was both a young woman and a virgin.

  1. Born in Bethlehem

The Prophet Micah provided the prophetic signpost that the Redeemer would be born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2

“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.”

  1. The slaughter of children

One of the most horrific details surrounding the infant years of Jesus is the story of how King Herod, jealous and concerned about protecting his throne from a usurper, sought out the location of the coming Redeemer King and attempted to kill him by slaughtering all the children two years old and younger in the vicinity of Bethlehem. This genocide was foretold by the Prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:15

“This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

  1. Called from Egypt

Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, was warned by an angel in a dream to flee to Egypt because of Herod’s plans to kill all the children in Bethlehem. When Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Judea after the death of King Herod, this fulfilled the prophecy that the Redeemer would be called out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1).[6]  

  1. He would come from Galilee

Returning from Egypt, Jesus’ parents decided not to return to Bethlehem in Judea, but instead to go north and settle in Nazareth in the region of Galilee. In doing so, they fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which foretold that the Messiah would come from the area of Galilee in northern Israel. (Isa. 9:1-2)

Concerning his actions

  1. He would speak in parables

One of the ways that God has kept things from the plain sight of humankind is by using riddles and obscure sayings. The Serpent deceived Eve as part of his attack against God and God’s desire for humankind, so God has had to employ this technique to keep things obscured from His enemy, too. David foretold that the Messiah would speak in parables (Ps. 78:2).

  1. He would be a prophet like Moses

God worked with Moses to perform some astounding signs, miracles, and wonders as he sought to have Pharaoh release the Israelites from their Egyptian captivity. He also delivered the Law to him and was with him throughout the Israelites’ 40-year wandering in the wilderness. As the time of Moses’ death approached, speaking of the Messiah, Moses foretold that God would raise up another prophet like himself (Deut. 18:15). 

  1. He would have zeal for the Temple and would act with authority

The Redeemer’s love and obedience toward God resulted in his great offense at seeing the Temple turned into a marketplace with money changers and vendors taking advantage of those who came to worship and offer the required animal sacrifices. It is recorded that Jesus drove them out with a scourge as he uttered the same words Jeremiah foretold: “Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you?” (Jer. 7:11)

  1. He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey

The prophet Zechariah foretold that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem as a king riding on “a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9 NIV 2011).

  1. He would make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk

It was understood that when the Redeemer came, there would be great healing. The goal was that humankind’s relationship with God would be restored and that the damage caused by sin, such as disease and death, would be reversed. When Jesus came, he made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to leap for joy, just as Isaiah had prophesied (Isa. 35:5-6).

Concerning the Messiah’s suffering and death

We can see from the many details God provided ahead of time that He didn’t want anyone to be mistaken about the identity of the man He was going to send. What is even more amazing are the many things foretold about the details surrounding the Messiah’s death. Listed below are some of those details and the scripture references of the prophecies:

  1. Hated without cause (Psalm 35:19)
  2. Rejected by men, mocked (Psalm 69:9; Psalm 22:7, 8)
  3. Betrayed by a close friend (Psalm 55:12-13; Zechariah 11:12)
  4. Sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12)
  5. Falsely accused (Psalm 35:11)
  6. Silent in front of accusers (Isaiah 53:7)
  7. Crucified with criminals (Isaiah 53:12)
  8. Hands pierced and crucified (Zechariah 12:10)
  9. None of his bones broken (Psalm 34:20)
  10. Side pierced (Zechariah 12:10)
  11. Clothing would be gambled over (Psalm 22:18)
  12. Given gall to drink (Psalm 69:21)
  13. Darkness would be over the land (Amos 8:9)
  14. Buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9)

 

What are the odds?

One of the most interesting aspects of the Bible is that it contains a lot of predictive prophecy—the foretelling of events before they happened. In fact, a significant portion of the Old Testament is predictive, possibly as much as twenty-five to thirty percent. It is very noteworthy that, with the exception of those things concerning Jesus’ second coming in the future and the end times, he fulfilled every single one of the 300-plus prophecies about the Messiah. What are the odds that any one person could have done that?

Life is filled with probabilities and statistical odds. For instance, what are the odds that you will be struck by lightning today? Scientists tell us the odds are 1 in 250 million that it will happen to any given person on any given day.  They have also been able to calculate the odds of you being struck by lightning in your entire lifetime, which is 1 in 9,100. That’s a tremendous increase in the probability that it will happen, which makes sense when you add up all the individual days in a year and multiply that by the average person’s lifespan. They have also calculated the odds of you being struck by a meteor at 1.8 in 1014—that is 10 followed by fourteen zeros, which is really a rather large number.

So what are the odds that one man would fulfill all of the various prophetic signposts that God gave ahead of time? As each prophecy was made, the principle of compound probability dictated that the likelihood of one person fulfilling all of them decreased. In the book Science Speaks, Peter W. Stoner and Robert Newman calculated the odds using the following eight of the over 300 prophecies given about the Messiah. Below is the summary of the calculations Stoner and Newman made to determine exactly what the odds are that one man would fulfill these eight prophecies.

  1. Born in Bethlehem (1 in 2.8  x 100,000)
  2. John the Baptist coming before (1 in 1,000)
  3. Entering Jerusalem on a donkey (1 in 100)
  4. Betrayed by a friend (1 in 1,000)
  5. Sold for 30 pieces of silver (1 in 100,000)
  6. Pieces of silver used to buy the Potters field (1 in 100,000)
  7. Silent during trial (1 in 1,000)
  8. Crucified (1 in 10,000)

Stoner and Newman make the following conclusion:

“If these estimates are considered fair, one man in how many men, the world over, will fulfill all eight prophecies? This question can be answered by applying our principles of probability. In other words, by multiplying all of our estimates together, or 1 in 2.8 x 105 x 103 x 102 x 103 x 105 x 103 x 104. This gives us 1 in 2.8 x 1028, where 28 means that we have 28 ciphers following the 2.8. Let us simplify and reduce the number by calling it 1 in 1028. Written out this number is: 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.”[7]

What does this really mean? How can we relate to something with odds like this? This would be like painting one silver dollar black and then placing it in an area the size of Texas, covered two feet deep with other silver dollars. The odds are the same as you reaching blindfolded into that mass of silver dollars and pulling out the one black one. Any one person who fulfilled just the eight prophecies listed above had to be the One that God said would come to restore the bridge between Himself and humankind.

And in case those odds and probabilities haven’t gotten your attention yet, the odds that one person would fulfill 48 of the prophecies is 1 in 10157.  This is the same as finding one particular atom in a ball the size of the universe, and then repeat that 100,000 times—in other words, it can’t be done.

In physics, scientists consider any occurrence taking place with the odds beyond 1050 as something that must be true, because the odds are so great in favor of it happening that for it not to happen is “manifestly absurd.”[8] Now bearing in mind that Jesus didn’t fulfill just eight prophecies (1 in 1028), or even just forty-eight (1 in 10157), but that he actually fulfilled over 300 prophetic signs. The odds are so high in his favor that he absolutely has to be the One, and for him not to be is manifestly absurd!

Jesus is God’s plan for mankind

God said He was sending someone, and the signposts are clear for us to see that Jesus is the One who God planned to save humankind. God said that Jesus would die as a sacrifice for the disobedience of all humankind, but God also said He would raise him from the dead.[9] God was able to do this because Jesus, with God as his Father, was not under the curse of Adam, and since he never disobeyed God, he didn’t deserve death.

Hebrews 9:26-28

“…he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Ephesians 5:2

“Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

1 John 2:2

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

God wants to give everyone the gift of everlasting life

God has made His intentions clear: He wants everyone to have the gift of immortality.

1 Timothy 2:4

Who [God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The only questions that remain are, “Do I want to live beyond my physical death?” and if so, “What must I do to receive everlasting life?”

(This article was taken from Dan Gallagher’s book “Considering Jesus“)

Endnotes:

[1] Graeser, Lynn, and Schoehnheit, One God & One Lord, 4th ed. (Indianapolis: Spirit & Truth Fellowship, 2010), 17.

[2] Genesis 17; Genesis 26

[3] John Schoenheit, “The Sons of God of Genesis Six.” Accessed August 24, 2015; https://www.truthortradition.com/articles/the-sons-of-god-of-genesis-six

[4] Luke 1:34

[5] Isaiah 7:14 (RSV)

[6] Although most understood that the words of the Prophet Hosea were directed at the nation of Israel, his prophecy also included the Redeemer.

[7]Peter W. Stoner and Robert Newman, Science Speaks, chapter 3, “The Christ of Prophecy.” Accessed 8/27/2015;  http://sciencespeaks.dstoner.net/Christ_of_Prophecy.html#c9

[8] “Absurd” has a mathematical definition in physics: any probability less than 1 in 1050 is, by definition, absurd. 12-5-2015. http://www.khouse.org/articles/1998/163/#notes

[9] Ps. 16:10; 30:3; 49:15

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2 comments

  1. yes very great story and I believe it to be true, however not all people do or will!!

  2. I am very grateful for this free question and answer way of teaching. Thank you very much

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