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That the Scripture Might Be Fulfilled

All four New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus contain references to Old Testament Scripture to teach readers the truth about Jesus Christ.  Matthew’s account is filled with such references, which is evidence that his book was originally targeted at a mostly Jewish audience.  Mark also quoted the Scripture, but not nearly as much as Matthew, which indicates that Mark’s account was perhaps more directed toward Gentiles, who did not have a good knowledge of the Old Testament (early tradition affirms this).  Luke also used the Scripture, but his account is more of a chronological history of the events in Jesus’ life (Luke 1:1-4).  The gospel of John focuses more on the meaning of Christ’s actions rather than the actions themselves, and it often uses the Old Testament Scripture for this purpose.

John’s account is especially focused on the fulfillment of Scripture in the final events of Christ’s life.  The events that John connected with the Scriptures were such happenings that could not have been known beforehand by the Old Testament writers nor could they have been carried out by any man except by the power of God.  John used these Scriptures and their corresponding events to prove that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God (John 20:30-31).

In John 13:18, John quoted the Lord Jesus, who said, "I do not speak of all of you.  I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’”  The Scripture to which Jesus referred was Psalm 41:9, and it was fulfilled through the actions of the apostle Judas, who betrayed the Lord.  It was the betrayal of Judas that led to the final events in Christ’s life – His arrest, trials, and crucifixion.

The nineteenth chapter of John records the Lord’s crucifixion and makes multiple references to fulfilled Scriptures.  Verse 24 quotes Psalm 22:18 to tell of how the soldiers resolved what to do with Christ’s tunic: "They said therefore to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be’; this was to fulfill the Scripture: ‘They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.’”  Verse 28 records the fulfillment of Psalm 22:15, saying, "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, ‘I am thirsty.’”  Verse 36 tells how the soldiers fulfilled Psalm 34:20 by not breaking Christ’s legs: "For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, ‘Not a bone of Him shall be broken.’”  And finally, verse 37 declares the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10 – "And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.’”

John also makes reference to the Old Testament Scriptures in connection with Christ’s resurrection.  Early in Christ’s ministry, He had foretold of His resurrection by describing His body as a temple to be torn down and raised up in three days.  This was remembered by His disciples according to John 2:22 – "When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.”  In this case, "the Scripture” is a general reference to all of the Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s resurrection.  Another similar reference is given in John 20:9 when Peter and John first found the empty tomb of Jesus: "For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

All of these uses of the Old Testament Scripture by John and the other gospel writers are powerful evidence to prove that Jesus is the Son of God.  The events that unfolded around Jesus were beyond the control of a mere man.   If Jesus was a mere man, then He could not have affected Judas, who betrayed Him, or the soldiers, who crucified Him.  If He was a mere man, then He could not have foretold of His death and resurrection, nor could He raise Himself from the grave.  If He was a mere man, then He could not have possibly fulfilled the more than 300 prophecies made about the Christ in the Old Testament.  The truth is that Jesus was not a mere man, but rather He was the Son of God and the Christ.  We have the fulfilled Scriptures to prove it, so let us read them and believe in Him.

Stacey E. Durham



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