Picture yourself in the biggest wide-open space possible. Then stretch that space out by nearly 400 miles in every direction. That’s approximately the size of Texas, the second largest state in the United States, at 268,581 square miles.
Now imagine silver dollars stacked two feet high across all of that space.
Somewhere in there is one silver dollar painted red.
Your job is to find it.
A helicopter will drop you in. You have one chance to pick up the correct silver dollar. And you’ll be blindfolded, of course.
If you find it, millions of people’s lives will be saved. If you don’t, the whole world goes up in flames.
Sounds like a video game with impossible odds, doesn’t it?!
But those are exactly the odds of one man fulfilling just eight of the prophecies of fulfilled by Jesus’ life.
During the 1940’s and 50’s, mathematics Professor Peter Stoner asked his students at Pasadena College to join him in a thought experiment. Their goal was to calculate the odds of one person fulfilling eight of the most prominent Old Testament prophecies of Jesus.
Using very conservative calculations they came to the conclusion that the odds of one person fulfilling all eight prophecies was 1 in 10 to the 17th power.
That’s the same odds of choosing the one red silver dollar out of Texas covered two feet thick with silver dollars.
That’s how incredible it is that Jesus could have fulfilled even eight of the over 200 prophecies in the Bible that He fulfilled through His life, death and resurrection.
Key Prophecies of Jesus
The Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah painted a portrait of Jesus centuries before He was born. They pinpoint with unerring accuracy the details of His birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and second coming.
Here are sixteen key prophecies of the Messiah and their fulfillments in Jesus Christ to strengthen your faith in God and the accuracy of His Word. (Curious about the odds of one man fulfilling 16 prophecies? Keep reading!)
1. Prophecy: Born in Bethlehem: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2
Fulfillment: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king…” Matthew 2:1
2. Prophecy: Born of a virgin: “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Fulfillment: “The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
3. Prophecy: A descendant of Jesse (King David’s father): “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 11:1
Fulfillment: “The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David…” Matthew 1:1
4. Prophecy: Time when ministry would begin: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” Daniel 9:25
Fulfillment: The 69-week prophecy began in 457 B.C. at the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 7:1-27). Using the day for a year principle of prophetic interpretation (Numbers 14:34) brings us to A.D. 27. This is the exact year that Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17) and began His public ministry (John the Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar [Luke 3:1], who became co-regent with his father in A.D. 12. Adding 15 & 12 also brings us to A.D. 27.) Note: This prophecy is one of the most thrilling time prophecies in the Bible. We will explore it in greater detail in a future article.
5. Prophecy: Proceeded by a forerunner: “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me.” Malachi 3:1 (Also see Isaiah 40:3-4)
Fulfillment:“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” Matthew 3:1-2
6. Prophecy: A ministry of peace and healing: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…” Isaiah 61:1-2
Fulfillment: Jesus applied this prophecy to Himself when He spoke in the Nazareth synagogue on Sabbath morning (Luke 4:16-21).
7. Prophecy: A light to the Gentiles:“By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:1-2
Fulfillment: Matthew 4:12-17 directly quotes Isaiah in announcing the ministry of Jesus.
8. Prophecy: Enter Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9 Fulfillment: Matthew 21:1-11 tells of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before His death, directly fulfilling this prophecy.
9. Prophecy: He would be spat upon: “I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6
Fulfillment: “Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands.” Matthew 26:67
10. Prophecy: Condemned with transgressors:“He was numbered with the transgressors…” Isaiah 53:12. Note: Isaiah 53 contains numerous prophecies of the suffering Messiah. It vividly describes the Messiah’s rejection, silent suffering, intercession for sinners and death on our behalf. Though we do not have time to explore them all here, it is well worth your time to study Isaiah 53 in comparison with the gospel chapters describing the death of Jesus.
Fulfillment: “There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death.” Luke 23:32
11. Prophecy: Clothing divided by casting lots: “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” Psalm 22:18
Fulfillment: “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, snd for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.” John 19:23-24
12. Prophecy: Nature of death: “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me.” Psalm 22:14
Fulfillment:“One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” John 19:34
13. Prophecy: Messiah’s death would reconcile humanity and bring an end to sin: “To make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness…” Daniel 9:24
Fulfillment: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…” Galatians 1:3-4
14. Prophecy: Hell could not hold Messiah:“For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” Psalm 16:10
Fulfillment: “God raised [Him] up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Acts 2:24
15. Prophecy: Messiah would see the results of dying for people’s sins: “When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:10-11
Fulfillment: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
16. Prophecy: His throne would be everlasting: “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:16
Fulfillment:”And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” Revelation 22:3
A Solid Foundation and a Irresistible Hope
Do you see how these sixteen prophecies of the Messiah were perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Chrsit of Nazareth?
Friend, the chance of Jesus fulfilling just eight of those prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Jesus also fulfilled hundreds more. (Scholarly opinion varies on exactly how many prophecies of Jesus there are in the Bible. Numbers range from 200-400.)
So the chance of one man fulfilling sixteen prophecies comes to 1 in 10 to the 45th power. “Let us try to visualize this as we did before. Take this number of silver dollars. If you make these into a solid ball, you will have a great sphere with a center at the earth, and extending in all directions more than 30 times as far as from the earth to the sun… If you can imagine the marking of one silver dollar, and then thoroughly stirring it into this great ball, and blindfolding a man and telling him to pick out one dollar, and expect it to be the marked one, you have somewhat of a picture of how absolutely the fulfillment of sixteen prophecies referring to Jesus Christ proves both that He is the Son of God and that our Bible is inspired. Certainly God directed the writing of His Word.” Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, chapter 3
Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
The math shows that Jesus fulfilling all the prophecies about Him could not be accident. Bible prophecies are trustworthy!
What about the delightfully alluring prophecy of Jesus’ soon return in the clouds of heaven? Isn’t it a dependable hope worth living for?
“This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” Revelation 1:7
“Surely I am coming quickly.” Revelation 22:20
Take time to look up each of the 16 prophecies listed above and their fulfillments in your Bible. Read the context of each verse so that you can understand more fully how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy.
Another great thing about looking them up in your Bible? You’ll know where to find them next time you want to read them! There’s nothing like actually reading directly from an open Bible.
**All Scriptures taken from the New King James Version.