Pastor’s Letter April 2018

Pastor’s reflections

Lent and Easter have been celebrated and we have had that spring clean of our lives, reminding ourselves about what Jesus’ death really meant.  Jesus grew up in a Jewish community amongst Gods promised people.  He studied the Hebrew Scriptures, we find him at 12 years old listening and questioning the scribes in the temple, when he starts his ministry he announces it by reading and adjusting a text from Isaiah.  The Jewish scriptures or the Old Testament tell us a lot about Gods plan for his people.  I thought that it would be useful to look at some of the prophecies about Jesus, we read the ones about Jesus Birth at Christmas, but these are not so well know.

A Prophecy: in Deuteronomy 18:15

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.”

Is Fulfilled in John: John 6:14

“Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly “the Prophet” who is to come into the world.’”

It is clear from the context of Deuteronomy 18:15-22 that not just one prophet was meant by Moses, but a succession of prophets who would culminate in the Messiah-“the Prophet” of Israel. By the time John the Baptist comes on the scene as the forerunner to Messiah, there was intense anticipation in Israel about the Prophet to come. The Jewish leaders asked John the Baptist if he was the prophet, to which he replied, “No” (John 1:21-25). When Philip began to follow Jesus, he recognized Him as the One that Moses wrote about in the Law (John 1:44-45). Jesus went on to claim that He was the One Moses wrote about (John 5:46), and many others affirmed this (John 6:14; 7:40). After Jesus ascension into heaven, both Peter and Stephen declared to the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the Prophet, the Messiah, about whom Moses wrote (Acts 3:22-26; 7:37). Interestingly, no evidence to the contrary was offered by anyone in all of these accounts.

We find another prophecy: Psalm 22, which is fulfilled in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19

Psalm 22 is a picture of the crucifixion, years before crucifixion was a method of capital punishment. The parallels between this Psalm, written nearly 1,000 years before Messiah, and the Gospel account are uncanny.

To see the striking parallels between the prophetic imagery of a crucifixion in Psalm 22 with the facts of Jesus’ death, compare the following: His cry of anguish (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46); the mocking He endured (Psalm 22:6-8; Matthew 27:39-43); the condition of His body (Psalm 22:14; compare with the condition of a person hanging on a cross); His thirst on the cross (Psalm 22:15; John 19:28); the piercing of His hands and feet on the cross (Psalm 22:16: compare with the nail prints in His hands; John 20:25-27); the gambling for his garments (Psalm 22:18;

John 19:23-24).As David prefigured Messiah in so many ways, he also prefigured Him in his own suffering at the hands of evildoers. Psalm 22 clearly shows that Jesus is the crucified one of whom David wrote.

A Prophecy in Isaiah 53. Which is fulfilled in: John 1:1; Matthew 8:16-17; 26:62-63; 27:12-14, 38, 57-60; Mark 15:27-28; Luke 23:33; Romans 4:25; and 1 Corinthians 15:3

A Jewish person might think when he reads this passage that he is reading from the New Testament. He may be surprised to see this in the Hebrew Bible!

This is perhaps the strongest of the Messianic prophecies and one you already know. The prophecy actually begins in chapter 52 verse 13. It describes the priestly ministry of the Messiah who would die as an innocent offering for the sins of the Jewish people. The prophecy has numerous points of fulfilment recorded in the Gospel accounts of the death of the Messiah. He was “like a lamb led to the slaughter,” an innocent sufferer who died on behalf of others.

A Jew hearing that the prophecy would say it refers to the nation of Israel, but the text does not support this interpretation. Notice verses 5 and 8, where the servant suffers for “our sins” and the “sins of my people.” Someone is suffering for the sins of another group. In Isaiah, the “group” can only be Israel. Therefore, the one suffering for Israel has to be one other than Israel. It can only be Messiah. The earliest rabbinic authorities ascribed this passage to the Messiah.

A prophecy in Zechariah 9:9

“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.”

Which is fulfilled in John 12:12-14

“a great multitude when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The King of Israel!’ Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written.”

Jewish people were taught to expect a triumphant, kingly Messiah descending from heaven to rule and bring peace to the people of the earth. They were not taught that the Messiah was first to come humbly, riding on a donkey, to accomplish His mission to reconcile us to God (Matthew 21:5-10). World peace cannot come unless individuals’ hearts first find peace with God through Messiah.

The One who would enter Jerusalem was “your King,” meaning Israel’s king. Israel’s king could be only one person, a descendant of David, which Jesus obviously was. Yet He came first not on a warrior’s steed (as He will when He returns; see Revelation 19:11-16), but as One having justice and salvation (deliverance).

No one in Israel fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 like Jesus. His righteous character attracted the throngs that followed Him and hung on His teaching. His gentle humility caused even children to be comfortable in His midst. This picture of Him entering Jerusalem humbly on a donkey, coupled with the other prophetic images of Messiah-the suffering (crucified) Servant – paint a powerful picture of the totality of the life of Jesus as Messiah.

We had a Passover meal in our church as part of our Easter week reflections. When God instituted the Passover for the Jewish people, He gave all mankind a picture of what redemption was. As the people of Israel sacrificed lambs so that their own lives might be spared, so God has sacrificed His own Son so that all mankind might be redeemed.

A Messiah in the Passover demonstration illustrates how Jesus initiated the Last Supper during Passover, and how He is the fulfilment of the feast. The Seder meal observed by Jesus and his disciples would have been more primitive and not as well developed as the one which is described 200 years later in the Mishnaic tractate, Pesachim, a tractate on the Passover. But some of the traditions recorded in John run parallel to the modern day Passover Seder.

John describes three different Passovers observed by Jesus John 2:13, 6:4, and the final Passover found in John 11:55, 12:1 and 13:1 with additional references in John 18:28 and 19:14. Luke tells us John was asked by Jesus to make preparation for this final Passover meal. Jesus turned the ritual Hand washing part of the Seder into Foot washing to teach his disciples an early lesson on humility.  True spirituality is not a matter of performing rituals correctly but a matter of the heart.

The gospel of John is critical to understanding the Jewish story of Jesus, many scholars would argue that it was written for the Gentiles, however, the gospel of John should be viewed through a Jewish lens.  John was a Jew himself, one of the earliest disciples.  He had first-hand experience with Jesus giving him a real insight into the details of Jesus life.  He travelled with him and heard him preaching to the people.  He was perhaps the one described as ‘beloved’ He was present at the foot of the cross unlike his peers it was he that Jesus asked to look after his mother.

Pastor Caroline

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