God Fulfilled Prophecy in Jesus Christ

imagesThe book of Acts in the Bible is called so, for it is a record of the “Acts of the Apostles,” or one could also say it is a record of the “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” These acts are significant, because they occur at a significant point in human history. God has become a man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who we come to know as the fulfillment of many prophecies recorded in a collection of writings we know as the Old Testament. The Old Testament covers the portions in the Bible from Genesis through Malachi (39 books).

Included in this portion of the Bible are many prophecies focused on a specific person of God, who would do specific things. This person is the Messiah, the Savior, who actually is God Himself. We come to learn as revealed in the New Testament, this person is in fact Jesus of Nazareth, or more appropriately, Jesus Christ. Christ means Savior, or Anointed One; and this is exactly who Jesus is.

The book of Acts launches immediately into the promise of the coming Holy Spirit. It then describes Christ’s ascension after being back on earth bodily post crucifixion. It then describes the actual event when the Holy Spirit came, which we refer to as “Pentecost.” This marks the earthly, physical beginning of the Church. We then see the Apostles starting with Peter preaching about what has happened and what is happening. And as he continues preaching, he explains how Old Testament prophecy is being fulfilled before their very eyes in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He explains to the people that Jesus is the Holy One who was promised from long ago. Peter is here preaching and this is what Luke recorded for us through the divine oversight of the Holy Spirit:

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:17-26 ESV).

Peter, unashamedly and without doubt or hesitation, says that God has fulfilled prophecy in Christ. In these few verses we see several things:unknown

  1. He reminds them the Christ will suffer (verse 18). Jesus specifically mentions this when He appears (in disguise) to several disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13). These disciples were disappointed, because they were hoping Jesus was the promised One. They had forgotten what the prophets spoke of long ago. They forgot that this Messiah would actually suffer tremendously at the hands of His own people. Here what Jesus said: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? (Luke 24:25-26)” He reminds them that the Messiah would have to suffer as spoken of. He then later while they were eating revealed to them He was the Messiah. (verses 30-32). “Their [spiritual] eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (verse 31). Once they saw Him for whom he was, it was not hard for them to believe, since they had just seen Him die on the cross and now He was having a meal with them.
  1. Peter then identifies Jesus as the prophet who Moses spoke of, who is greater than him that will come (verse 22). Moses also told the people, they would listen to Him in whatever he tells them (Deuteronomy 18:15). This is actually a command. I like the New Living Translation, which says, “Listen carefully to everything he tells you.”

This also connects to Matthew 17, which records the events of Peter, John and James on the “Mount of Transfiguration.” Basically Jesus reveals some of His heavenly glory to them. Moses and Elijah also show up and speak with Jesus. I think their presence with Jesus represents the Law and the Prophets of God. During this encounter God interrupts Peter, who was rambling about making a campsite for everyone and says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (verse 4).

  1. He then declared that all the prophets from Samuel on foretold the days in which they were seeing (verse 24). He is basically reiterating what Jesus had done with the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. There, Jesus essentially went through the Old Testament and explained it was speaking of Him (verse 27). All of the events of the Old Testament and New Testament are somehow linked to Jesus Christ.

I like to think of it this way. The Old Testament is Jesus concealed; the New Testament Gospels are Jesus revealed; the New Testament book of Acts is Jesus preached; the New Testament Epistles are Jesus explained; and the New Testament book of Revelation is Jesus expected. It’s all about Him, because, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

  1. Finally, Peter connects Jesus as the promised “offspring” of Abraham who will bless all the families of the earth (verse 25), which is cited from Genesis 22:18. The cool thing about this reference from Peter is the “offspring” mentioned to Abraham is not plural, but singular. So when God gave this promise to Abraham, He was revealing a single person will be the one who will fulfill this promise. And Peter says this person promised is Jesus Christ.

As a result of the coming of Christ there will be things happening that will authenticate Jesus as the promised Messiah:

  1. There will be repentance for the forgiveness of sins (verse 19). And this repentance will be a result of the Lord’s blessing on His people. God will actually be the agent working personally in people’s lives causing them to turn from their evil ways (verse 26).
  1. And as a result of this genuine turning to the Lord in faith, there will be refreshing that comes in the form of the actual presence of the Lord, since Jesus will come to those who repent of their sins and believe in Him (verse 20).

Jesus is also called “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus as loving, compassionate, gracious, and merciful God gets into the yoke of burden and despair with us and leads us to Him more and more (Matthew 11:30).unknown-1

We have the awesome privilege of knowing who God is and what He has done. The incarnation, life, work, death and resurrection of Christ are marvelous truths. We now know the way, the truth and the life, because of what God has done and is doing through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV).

Glory to God alone!

J.D.N.

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