It is critical to know that Jesus fulfilled Biblical Prophecy when He came the first time, because He’s most certainly going to fulfill Biblical Prophecy when He comes the second time. The book of Matthew was written by a Jew for Jews – to explain exactly why Jesus was the Messiah they were waiting for. The Bible gives not two or three, but FOUR witnesses to the life and account of Jesus during His earthly ministry through the other gospels of Mark, Luke, and John.
One of the most important prophecies to understand about Jesus’ first coming is that its timing was recorded in the Bible. In Luke 19:42, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem right before His triumphal entry on Palm Sunday. The Jews should have known on THIS DAY that Jesus was the Messiah. How were they to know? A study of Daniel chapter 9 yields the results (interestingly, it was likely through Daniel’s legacy that the Magi knew how to look for the star alignment surrounding Jesus’ birth as well). Jack Kelley summarizes it this way:
In Daniel 9:26 we find the most specific prophecy of all. It was written just as the Babylonian captivity was ending, about 530 BC. In it The Angel Gabriel explained to Daniel that the Messiah would come to Israel and be executed in a narrow window of time between the 483rd year after permission to rebuild Jerusalem was granted and the subsequent destruction of the city and Temple. From history we know that this time frame was 38 years in duration.
Prophecy:Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. (Daniel 9:24-26)
Fulfillment:When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:37-42)
It was the first Palm Sunday, the only day in His entire ministry when the Lord allowed the people to call Him Israel’s King. It was the 10th of Nisan, 483 years to the day after Persian King Artaxerxes Longimonus signed a decree authorizing Nehemiah to go and begin rebuilding Jerusalem – in 445 BC (Remember that Biblical prophecy years are 360 days, so to calculate the date we have to multiply 483 x 360 and divide by our 365.25. And remember there’s no year “0”). (Nehemiah 2:1-6) It was the day ordained in history for the Messiah to arrive in Jerusalem. When they missed it, He prophesied the destruction of the city.
The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you. (Luke 19:43-44)
38 years later the Romans destroyed the city and tore the Temple apart stone by stone until not one was left standing on another. Another case of predictive prophecy fulfilled.
A more complete explanation is described well on Enduring Word:
The Seventy Weeks of Daniel as Understood by Sir Robert Anderson in The Coming Prince
Daniel 9:24-25 says that from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah there will be 483 years.
7 + 62 “weeks” = 69 groups of seven years. 7 x 69 = 483 years
Anderson understood a prophetic year as 360 days. This is based both on ancient history and on Revelation 11:2, 13:5, 11:3, and 12:6 which indicate that 42 months – 3 ½ years – are equal to 1,260 days.
Therefore, 483 years x 360 days = 173,880 days
Artaxerxes started his reign in 465 b.c. The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given on the first day of Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes. In our calendar system (the Julian calendar) that date is March 14, 445 b.c. (Nehemiah 2:1)
Jesus started His ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius (see Luke 3:1). Tiberius started his reign in a.d. 14, so Jesus’ ministry started in a.d. 29. Anderson believed that Jesus celebrated four Passovers during His ministry, one each in a.d. 29, 30, 31. and His final Passover in a.d. 32. With the help of lunar charts, we can calculate the exact date of ancient Passovers, so it is possible to calculate the exact day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as April 6, a.d. 32.
From 445 b.c. to a.d. 32. there are 476 years on the Julian calendar
(not 477 years, because there is no year zero).
476 years x 365 days = 173,740 days.
Adjusting for the difference between March 14 and April 6 adds 24 days.
Adjusting for leap years over a period of 476 years adds 116 days.
The total number of days from March 14, 445 b.c. to April 6, a.d. 32.
173,740 + 24 + 116 = 173,880 days.
According to his calendar, Daniel told us there would be 173,880 days between the decree and the arrival of Messiah the Prince.
(this is a summary, full article is HERE)
For further understanding of Daniel’s prophecy regarding Jesus’ first coming I recommend the complete article at Enduring Word.
Jesus fulfilled a multitude of other prophecies (did you know around 30% of the Bible is prophetic?). I can’t possibly do better research on this than has already been done by others. A great summary is written at CARM called Prophecy, the Bible, and Jesus:
How do you respond to someone’s claim that the Bible is not inspired? Is there a way to prove inspiration or, at least, intelligently present evidence for its inspiration? The answer is, “Yes!” One of the best ways to prove inspiration is by examining prophecy. There are many religious books in the world that have many good things to say, but only the Bible has fulfilled prophecies–with more fulfillments to come. The Bible has never been wrong in the past, and it won’t be wrong in the future. It claims inspiration from God (2 Tim. 3:16). Since God is the creator of all things (Isaiah 44:24), then He is also the creator of time. It is under His control. Only God, then, would always be right about what is in the future–our future.
Fulfilled prophecy is strong evidence that God is the author of the Bible because when you look at the mathematical odds of prophecy being fulfilled, you quickly see a design, a purpose and a guiding hand behind the Bible. If just one prophecy failed, then we would know that God is not the true God because the creator of all things, which includes time, would not be wrong about predicting the future. Deut. 18:22 says, “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously” (NIV). Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
One approach to use with an unbeliever is to turn to Psalm 22 and read verses 12-18. This is a detailed description of the crucifixion–1000 years before Jesus was born. After you read the section ask him what it was about. He’ll say, “The crucifixion of Jesus.” Then respond with something like, “You’re right. This is about the crucifixion. But it was written 1000 years before Jesus was born. And on top of that, crucifixion hadn’t even been invented yet. How do you think something like this could happen?” After a brief discussion, you could show him (or her) a few other prophecies like where Jesus’ birthplace was prophesied (Micah 5:2), that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), that His side would be pierced (Zech. 12:10), etc.
Born of the Seed of the Woman1 Gen. 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.”
Matt. 1:20, “But after he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'” Born of a Virgin Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Matt. 1:18, 25, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary . . . was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit . . . But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” Son of God Psalm 2:7, “I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are my Son, today I have become your Father.'” Matt. 3:15, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'” Seed of Abraham Gen. 22:18, “and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Matt. 1:1,“record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Son of Isaac Gen. 21:12, “But God said to him, ‘Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.'” Luke 3:23-34,“Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli . . . the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor.” House of David Jer. 23:5, “The days are coming, declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.'” Luke 3:23-31, “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli . . . the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David.” Born at 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.” Matt. 2:1, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.” He shall be a Prophet Deut. 18:18, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” Matt. 21:11,“The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.'” He shall be a Priest Psalm 110:4, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'” Heb. 3:1,“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.”
Heb. 5:5-6,“So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ And he says in another place, ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'”
He shall be a King Psalm 2:6,“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Matt. 27:37, “Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” He shall judge Isaiah 33:22,“For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.” John 5:30, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” He would be preceded by a Messenger Isaiah 40:3,“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'” Matt. 3:1-2,“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.'” Rejected by His own people Isaiah 53:3, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
John 7:5,“For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”
John 7:48,“Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?”
His side pierced Zech. 12:10,“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child,and grieve bitterly for him as one mourns for an only son.” John 19:34, “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” Crucifixion Psalm 22:1, Psalm 22:11-18,“For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? . . . Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Luke 23:33, “When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left.”
John 19:33, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”
John 19:23-24, “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. ‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’ This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, ‘They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.’ So this is what the soldiers did.”
The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, “we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017.” That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that “we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep.
“Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.”
Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, “we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157, or 1 in
000,000,000,000, 000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies by accident.”
Additional recommended articles include:
- The True Identity of Jesus of Nazareth (Jack Kelley)
- Proving Jesus Without the Bible (Beginning And End)
- Proving the Existence of Jesus (Jack Kelley)
- Prophecies About the Messiah: What Are the Odds? (Christ Saves Ministries)
The most complete collection of prophecies about Jesus and their fulfillment that I have seen listed is below, taken from HERE:
Prophecies Concerning Jesus’ Birth:
- He was born of the Seed of Woman as foretold in Genesis 3:15. Fulfillment Galatians 4:4.
- He was born of a virgin as foretold in Isaiah 7:14. Fulfillment Matthew 1:18, 1:24-25.
- He was the Son of God as foretold in Psalm 2:7. Fulfillment Matthew 3:17.
- He was of the Seed of Abraham as foretold in Genesis 22:18. Fulfillment Matthew 1:1.
- He was of the Seed of Isaac as foretold in Genesis 21:12. Fulfillment Luke 3:23, 3:34.
- He came from the tribe of Judah as foretold in Genesis 49:10. Fulfillment Luke 3:23, 3:32.
- He was from the Family Line of Jesse as foretold in Isaiah 11:1. Fulfillment Luke 3:23, 3:33.
- He was the son of David as foretold in 2 Samuel 7:14-16, Jeremiah 23:5. Fulfilled Luke 3:23, 3:31.
- He was born in Bethlehem as foretold in Micah 5:2. Fulfillment Matthew 2:1.
- He was Presented with Gifts as foretold in Psalm 72:10. Fulfillment Matthew 2:1, 2:11.
- Herod Killed Children, Trying to Kill Him as foretold in Jeremiah 31:15. Fulfilled Matthew 2:16.
Prophecies Concerning Jesus’ Nature:
- Jesus had Pre-Existence as foretold in Micah 5:2. Fulfilled Colossians 1:17, John 17:5.
- He Would Be Called Lord as foretold in Psalm 110:1. Fulfilled Matthew 22:43-45.
- He Shall be Immanuel as foretold in Isaiah 7:14. Fulfilled Matthew 1:23.
- He Shall be a Prophet as foretold in Deuteronomy 18:18. Fulfilled Matthew 21:11
- He Shall be a Priest as foretold in Psalm 110:4. Fulfilled Hebrews 3:1
- He Shall be a Judge as foretold in Isaiah 33:22. Fulfilled John 5:30
- He Shall be a King as foretold in Psalm 2:6. Fulfilled Matthew 27:37
- He had a special anointing of the Holy Spirit as foretold in Isaiah 11:2.
- He had a Zeal for God as foretold in Psalm 69:9. Fulfilled John 2:15-16.
Prophecies Concerning Jesus’ Ministry:
- He will be Preceded by a Messenger as foretold in Isaiah 40:3. Fulfilled Matthew 3:1-2
- His Ministry Will Begin in Galilee as foretold in Isaiah 9:1. Fulfilled Matthew 4:12-13, 17.
- He will do Miracles as foretold in Isaiah 35:5-6. Fulfilled Matthew 9:35.
- He will Teach in Parables as foretold in Psalm 78:2. Fulfilled Matthew 13:34.
- He will Enter the Temple as foretold in Malachi 3:1. Fulfilled Matthew 21:12.
- He will Enter Jerusalem on a Donkey as foretold in Zechariah 9:9. Fulfilled Luke 19:35-37.
- He would be a Stumbling Stone to the Jews as foretold in Psalm 118:22. Fulfilled 1 Peter 2:7.
- He will be a Light to the Gentiles as foretold in Isaiah 60:3. Fulfilled Acts 13:47-48
Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus on the Day of Crucifixion:
- He would be Betrayed by a Friend as foretold in Psalm 41:9. Fulfilled Matthew 10:4.
- He would be Betrayed for 30 Pieces of Silver as foretold in Zechariah 11:12. Fulfilled Matthew 26:15.
- His Betrayal Money would be Thrown Into God’s House as foretold in Zechariah 11:13. Fulfilled Matthew 27:5.
- His Betrayal Money would be given for a Potter’s Field as foretold in Zechariah 11:13. Fulfilled Matthew 27:7.
- He would be Forsaken by His Disciples as foretold in Zechariah 13:7. Fulfilled Mark 14:50.
- He would be Accused by False Witnesses as foretold in Psalm 35:11. Fulfilled Matthew 26:59-60.
- He would be Silent Before His Accusers as foretold by Isaiah 53:7. Fulfilled Matthew 27:12.
- He would be Wounded and Bruised as foretold by Isaiah 53:5. Fulfilled Matthew 27:26.
- He would be Spit Upon as foretold in Isaiah 50:6. Fulfilled Matthew 26:67.
- He would be Mocked as foretold in Psalm 22:7-8. Fulfilled Matthew 27:29.
- He would Fall Under the Cross as foretold in Psalm 109:24-25. Fulfilled John 19:17.
- His Hands and Feet would be Pierced as foretold in Psalm 22:16. Fulfilled Luke 23:33.
- He would be Crucified with Thieves as foretold in Isaiah 53:12. Fulfilled Matthew 27:38.
- He would make Intercession for His Persecutors as foretold in Isaiah 53:12. Fulfilled Luke 23:34.
- He would be Rejected by His own Countrymen as foretold in Isaiah 53:3. Fulfilled John 7:5, John 7:48.
- He would be Hated Without a Cause as foretold in Psalm 69:4. Fulfilled John 15:25.
- His Friends would Stand Far Off as foretold in Psalm 38:11. Fulfilled Luke 23:49.
- People would Shake their Heads at Him foretold in Psalm 109:25 and fulfilled Matthew 27:39.
- He would be Stared Upon as foretold in Psalm 22:17. Fulfilled Luke 23:35.
- His Garments would be Parted and Lots Cast foretold in Psalm 22:18. Fulfilled John 19:23-24.
- He would Suffer Thirst foretold in Psalm 69:21. Fulfilled John 19:28.
- He would be Offered Gall and Vinegar foretold in Psalm 69:21. Fulfilled Matthew 27:34.
- He would give a Forsaken Cry foretold in Psalm 22:1. Fulfilled Matthew 27:46.
- He would Commit His Spirit to God foretold in Psalm 31:5. Fulfilled Luke 23:46.
- His Bones would Not be Broken foretold in Psalm 34:20. Fulfilled John 19:33.
- He would be Heartbroken foretold in Psalm 22:14. Fulfilled John 19:34
- His side would be Pierced foretold in Zechariah 12:10 and fulfilled in John 19:34.
- There would be darkness over the land foretold in Amos 8:9. Fulfilled Matthew 27:45.
- He would be Buried in a Rich Man’s Tomb foretold in Isaiah 53:9 and fulfilled Matthew 27:57-60
Prophecies Surrounding Jesus’ Burial and Resurrection:
- He will be Resurrected from the Dead as foretold in Psalm 16:10. Fulfilled Acts 2:31.
- He will Ascend into Heaven as foretold in Psalm 68:18. Fulfilled Acts 1:9.
- He will Sit at the Right Hand of God as foretold in Psalm 110:1. Fulfilled Hebrews 1:3.