JESUS FULFILLS THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES
ALL 4 GOSPELS BEGIN BY EMPHASIZING A CONTINUATION & FULFILLMENT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT:
In the scriptures, the prophet Isaiah said, "'A voice cries in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord" (Isaiah 40:3). The Gospel of Mark (the first Gospel written according to the majority of scholars) begins with a description of John the Baptist using these same exact terms: "John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness... And he preached saying 'After me comes he who is mightier than I.'" By beginning his Gospel in this way, Mark is showing a continuation and fulfillment of the ancient texts.
The Gospel of Luke does likewise, and begins with a story about an old man named Zechariah who is told by God that his old and barren wife is pregnant. Zechariah could not believe it. Nonetheless, God heard this man's prayers and gave him and his wife a miracle baby. This miracle baby was John the Baptist. In this way, John literally precedes Jesus. For we are told six months after the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah, he visited Mary and Joseph. What is more, this opening scene in Luke's Gospel will also instantly remind those well acquainted with scripture, of God similarly promising Abraham a son with his wife Sarah who was also old and barren.
That is not where the similarities between the story of Abraham (and Isaac) and the story of the Gospels ends. The initial parallel (above) is making way for a more profound similarity. For we must recall that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son to prove his love to him. Abraham proved that he was willing, thus revealing his love for God. Likewise, by sending Jesus to earth, God, reveals that he is also willing to sacrifice his own son to prove his love for us. In other words, Jesus is yet another sign of God fulfilling his covenant with Abraham.
The way in which each Gospels begins, connects us back with the Old Testament, and highlights a profound connection, continuation, and fulfillment of the scriptures.
For instance, in the Old Testament the future king and redeemer was said to be a seed of Eve*, be from the tribe of Judah and be from the line of King David. As we close the Book of Malachi, at the very end of the Old Testament, we then turn next to the New Testament and The Gospel of Matthew. Matthew begins his Gospel with the genealogy of Jesus, and in so doing, he reveals how this man -- Jesus -- fits the exact description of the one they have been waiting for all along.
[*Although it is Luke's gospel that explicitly connects Jesus back to Eve directly, the connection to Eve is also implied by Matthew's genealogy, which begins with Abraham. Anyone who knows the Old Testament well enough, knows that Abraham's line goes back to Noah, which in turn connects back to Adam and Eve.]
And last but not least, The Gospel of John begins with the ultimate connection and continuation of the Old Testament. The Old Testament begins with, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth....And he said 'Let there be Light."
As we see in these lines, God created the world by speaking it into creation. In other words, he used his Word to make the world. I will come back to this point in a moment.
The prolific Christian writer and theologian, St. Augustine, once wrote, "That which is called the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion which already existed began to be called Christianity." (Retractions)
Augustine is addressing a common argument made by skeptics of Christianity: How can your religion be both timeless and exist at a specific moment in time? To an outsider or skeptic it can kind of seem like Christianity just magically sprung up, as if out of nowhere -- This misinformed notion serves to undermine the cause.
This was the same argument that John was addressing in the opening line of his Gospel. John's Gospel opens with,"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Immediately, one can see the connection that John is making to the Old Testament. By using the same verbiage, John is obviously invoking the story of creation in the Book of Genesis. In that Book, God used his Word to make the world. The "Word" is also a title for Jesus. In other words, Jesus is the Word of God, as well as God himself (or as John says "the Word was God"). John's Gospel shows us how Jesus has always been around (timeless), while also revealing how he lived and died at precise moment in history (approximately 2000 years ago).
Let us think about that precise moment in history for a second, and what that means for us today. What year is it right now? It is 2020. We all accept that. That number, which is known and accepted by almost everyone in the world is representative of what? It represents when Jesus lived. In other words, almost the entire world marks their calendars, emails, notes, etc. with a sign of Jesus Christ. As Christians, let us appreciate the power of that that for a moment.
What is more, it is difficult to go more than a few blocks in most of the countries of the world without coming across a place of worship in honor of this man. We should appreciate the sheer amount of ingenuity, collaborative spirit, resources, creativity, force of will, etc. it took to construct all of these churches in his name -- for that, too, is a miracle unto itself.
Summing up, when we are talking about what year it is, we are discussing how it represents the TIME of this man, and his precise place in history. And when we talk about the ubiquity of churches, we are talking about the SPACE of this man and where we can go to worship him. When we talk about the Bible however, we are talking about both of these purpose at once. The Bible defines both TIME and SPACE in much the same way, which is to say, it tells us about the time and life of a man named Jesus Christ -- the Long Awaited King who takes away the Sin of the World -- and the place where he dwells among us, where we can go to worship him -- that is to say, the Bible holds within it THE WORD.