Jesus gives a fourth category of evidence to prove His authenticity when He says:
“If it were just Me talking about Myself, My testimony wouldn't be valid. John announced the truth about Me. The works the Father gave Me to do, prove I'm the real thing. The Father Himself has testified about Me. The Scriptures testify about Me.” (John 5:31-37)1
The fourth evidence is Scripture. Specifically, He was talking about what we call the Old Testament. It was written prior to and completed four centuries before Jesus arrived. Once He said to a group of Jewish unbelievers:
“If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47)
The claim was that Moses prophetically predicted that Jesus would someday come. Though there are many examples, it’s worth looking at the first that appears in Scripture. Adam and Eve had just sinned for the first time. God spoke to Satan:
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. (Genesis 3:15)
This is seen as the first recorded prophecy about Jesus. The snake was being told what to expect. A descendant of the woman would someday deal the death blow to the snake. He would crush His head. Obviously, there are not a lot of details in these few lines. If this were the only prophecy about Jesus we had, we'd be almost completely in the dark, but there are many more. Here is one that all Jews of the time likely would have memorized, or at least be very familiar with. Moses is relaying what God told him when he told the people:
“I [God] will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15, 17-19)
The Jews would have known this passage and were awaiting this coming prophet. That's why the religious leaders asked John the Baptist if He was the Prophet. (John 1:21) In the same way, the Samaritans, and later Martha identified Jesus as The Prophet that is to come into the world. (John 6:45) Later a crowd recognized Jesus as the Prophet. (John 7:40) Martha later called Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world. (John 11:27) She recognized, as many did, that the prophet like Moses whom God would raise up would be the Christ.
In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, Philip said to his brother:
“We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)
He claimed that Jesus is the one “like Moses.” Not only did Philip acknowledge that Moses wrote about Jesus' coming, but also the prophets. There are some striking examples of what the prophets had to say about Jesus. One of the best known is found in Isaiah:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:4)
One of the most amazing features about the story of Jesus is that He was virgin born. This happened to signify that Jesus was authentic. The famous prophet Zechariah also relayed God’s words on the subject of Jesus:
“Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
The Gospel writers are careful to include a host of details that remind us of Old Testament prophecies that predict Christ. On entering the City of Jerusalem about a week before He would be arrested, Jesus rode in just as Zechariah said He would. (Matthew 21:1-5) Let’s fast forward to the crucifixion. Was that prophesied? While Jesus was nailed to the cross, He cried out a phrase that is often misunderstood by modern readers.
“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:46)
Many people have read these words and thought God the Father abandoned Jesus at this point. Though that seems like an unlikely interpretation considering that Psalms 16 says that God would not abandon Him. (Psalm 16:10) So why did Jesus say, “My God, why have you forsaken me?" The answer is more straightforward than you might think.
These words Jesus spoke were song lyrics. There was a well know Psalm, written by the prophet King David, which begins with these exact words. In Jesus' time, song titles came from the first line of lyrics. If Jesus said, “Psalm 22,” that wouldn't make any sense to those standing around because the Bible didn't get divided up into chapters and verses until hundreds of years later. So if He wanted to remind people of what Psalm 22 said, He would use the title of that Psalm that the people knew. The title of that Psalm in Jesus’ day would have been Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani.
By saying these words, Jesus was pointing their attention to the lyrics of that well-known song. As they watched Him die, the lyrics were likely playing through their minds:
I am… scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me. (Psalm 22:6)
The Pharisees and the soldiers had made sport of Jesus for the better part of the afternoon. They hurled insults at Him as He hung there on the cross. Not only them but even those who passed by on the road mocked Him. (Matthew 27:39) The incredible prophetic song of David continues:
They pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalm 22:16)
Obviously this is exactly what happen to Jesus when He was nailed to the cross. The Psalm continues two verses later:
They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:18)
Right there at Jesus’ feet the soldiers were drawing straws for who would get to keep the tunic they had stolen from Him. Imagine watching an event unfold as you sing the lyrics of a popular song you’ve known since you were a kid. As you sing to yourself you realize that the lyrics describe what’s taking place before your eyes. What an incredible experience that must have been!
We know that God the Father did not abandon His Son on the cross because the Psalm goes on to say:
For he [God] has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. (Psalm 22:24)
The Psalm shows that the Father didn't leave Jesus to suffer alone. Instead, the Father listened to His cry for help. This is another bit of evidence that Jesus was not lamenting the fact that His Father had abandoned Him, but instead was reminding those standing around that this was all in God's plan. The final words of the Psalm are some of the most encouraging in the Bible. This is likely the words Jesus wanted His loved ones who were standing around to remember:
Future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it! (Psalm 22:30-31)
That last line, "He has done it!" is incredibly similar to Jesus' final words on the cross, "It is finished." (John 19:30) It seems that Jesus not only mentioned the title and first line of the Psalm but also reminded them where the Psalm ends, even repeating the final idea. Psalm 22 is a powerful prophecy of what would happen and what would be accomplished on the cross. Jesus was not complaining that His Father had abandoned Him. With His dying breaths, He was telling those watching that Psalm 22 was being fulfilled as they watched. Even in His last moments, He sought to comfort His followers.
Scores more Old Testament prophecies tell about Jesus. A list of prophecies about Jesus tips the scale at about 350+. That’s 350+ identifiable times the Old Testament writers mentioned some detail about Jesus which they could not have known without supernatural inspiration. This is yet another proof that God offered to prove Jesus was the Messiah.
1 Author’s paraphrase for the publication, How You Can Live Forever.