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God or Man?

Scripture: Psalms 55:12, Psalms 41:9, Matthew 26:50
The Bible gives 300 prophecies about a coming Messiah to Israel. Jesus fulfilled these prophecies. He believed and demonstrated that His life was a fulfillment of the Old Testament predictions about the Anointed one.
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Let me ask you a question today concerning the law of compound probability. How much of a chance would you have in winning some prize if you only had one chance in 84 with 100 zeros after it? Now I can't pronounce the zillion or sextillion or whatever that figure would represent. But I can tell you one thing, friends, your chances in that kind of situation might as well be called "Zero." Yet today I'm going to share with you the exciting news that one chance out of 84 with 100 ciphers actually did come to pass, and your very life depends on that incredible, unlikely circumstance.

You see in the Old Testament scriptures there are 300 specific predictions concerning a Messiah who would be born to save the world. His birth, life and death are dealt with in hundreds of instances by the major and minor prophets of the Bible. And yet, for all those prophecies to be fulfilled in the life of only one man, there wasn't one chance in all of these unpronounceable zeros that it could ever occur. Yet it did happen, friends. And the man who fulfilled all of the predictions was none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whose life has influenced history more than any other man who has ever been born.

Not only did he fulfill the hundreds of predictions concerning the Son of God, but he claimed to be the fulfillment. He spoke confidently of having all authority and power in heaven and earth. He professed to control completely the operations of nature. He claimed Lordship over the angels, accepted the worship of men, and stated that He would be the final judge of the world.

Now, admittedly, others have made similar claims at various times and places, but they were pushed aside as cranks or fools.

Christ is the only person known to history who has claimed divinity and yet who has been accounted sane by the human race. The founders of other religious systems such as Mohammedanism, Buddhism, and Hinduism did not claim to be God incarnate. Here Christianity differs from all other religions. Christ spoke and lived as a Being whose dwelling place was eternity, and He alone of all mankind has convinced multitudes of all ages, races, and walks of life that His claims to divinity were genuine.

Seekers for truth should not begin with secondary questions, such as difficulties in the Old Testament, or the origin of evil, the problem of pain, etc. The truth of Christianity stands or falls with the person of its founder.

He believed his claims so implicitly that he was prepared to risk not only His own life, but the lives of His friends as they, too, advocated His gospel. He foretold that His followers would be persecuted and put to death, and yet He intimated also that such a fate was a light thing in comparison with the importance of establishing His sovereignty over the world.

Christ's claims even survived the test of apparent failure. On the cross, after being rejected by His own nation and religious leaders, He could still behave as King of eternity, promising heaven to a penitent criminal and interceding as calmly for His enemies as though He were walking the pavements of a country town on a sunny day.

Furthermore, it would appear that this Man's deeds matched His words. No man ever acted as this Man acted. Could one flaw be found in the four-fold narrative, the whole picture would be blemished and Christ's claims dissipated.

No such flaws exist. Had Christ never lived, it would have required His equal to invent the unique story of His life. Despite His insight into the nature of man and His understanding regarding truth and morality, He Himself seemed never conscious of personal guilt. Here Jesus of Nazareth differed from all other good men. Thus it has been said of Christ that if He was good, then He was God, for good men do not lie regarding themselves.

Now let us look at some of those uncanny predictions which identify Jesus as the Saviour of the world.

I turn first to the Psalmist and we notice a few. Psalm 55:12, "For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him." You know how it is in life today. If an enemy does you dirty, you expect it and it is a lot easier to bear, but when it is one of your closest friends, that is what hurts. And so the prophecy goes on. Psalm 41:9, "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." Was this fulfilled in the life of Jesus? Oh, yes. You remember as you read the gospel story in Matthew 26:50 when Judas led his delegation into the garden to where Jesus had just finished his intercessory prayer, Judas came up to Jesus and kissed Him. We read that Jesus turned to him and said, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" Judas was His friend. Judas was one of the twelve; one of His closest associates. He was the treasurer of the group and yet he was the one who betrayed Him. Prophecy fulfilled.

Zechariah 11:12, "And I said unto them, if ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver." The words of Judas, the one who betrayed Him, spoken here several centuries before, telling how he would be dickering with the priests. He would tell them, "All right, you give me what I ask or I won't betray Him." You come over to the New Testament and you read the story there of how, as Judas dickered with the priests, he put his demand to them and they reached in the bag and they counted out thirty pieces of silver for him. Then there was something else. The 13th verse tells what is going to happen to that money. "And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord." Now, here is what happened in the gospel story. After Judas saw what he had done and saw that Jesus wasn't going to deliver himself, which he thought Jesus would do, his conscience did hurt him enough to come back to the priests and tell them, "Look, I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood." And he threw the thirty pieces of silver at their feet right there in the house of the Lord like it said he would. And he turned and went out and hanged himself.

Now here is another part of the prophecy and it's quite a problem for these priests. Here is the money lying in front of them. What shall we do with the money? And I can imagine someone saying, "Well, let's put it in the treasury." Do you know, friend, if they had put that money in the treasury, the Bible would not be true. Jesus would not be the Son of God. That is right. But someone must have said, "Oh, no, that's bloody money, money of blood and we can't put that in the treasury. What shall we do?" Someone said, "Let's buy a potter's field. Let's buy a field out here where we can bury the strangers." So they scooped up the thirty pieces of silver and they went and bought the potter's field as the prophet said they would do several hundred years before. Again proving the Bible is true and that this prediction in the life of Jesus was fulfilled showing that He was the Son of God.

The prophet Isaiah, way back seven hundred and fifty years before the birth of Jesus said in Isaiah 50:6, "I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting." We go to the New Testament and there we read in Matthew 26:67 that as they heaped insult upon Jesus some poor wretch went up and spat in His face as the prophet had said they would. Again Isaiah 53:7 tells us He is "brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." We go again to the gospel story in Matthew and notice what happens when Jesus is brought before them and they accuse Him falsely. "And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly." Matthew 27:12, 14. Here Jesus stands before that howling mob and they are bringing all sorts of railing accusations against Him and Jesus answered never a word. He was silent. Anyone else would have screamed out and told them of the lies they were telling.

In Isaiah 53:12 it talks about two or three other things that would happen. "Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bear the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Do you know the gospel story tells us that when they brought him up to that place of crucifixion on Golgotha's hill, they laid the cross down and stretched Him out on it. The hammer and the nails were brought and as they raised that hammer and drove those cruel spikes through those tender quivering hands and feet, Jesus looked up and said, "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do." They don't realize they are nailing the Son of God to the cross. "Father, forgive them ... . Lay this not to their charge." The prophet had said he would pray for them 750 years ago. There on the cross as they are nailing Him, He prays that their sin may be forgiven them.

That Friday afternoon after they had nailed Him to the cross, the multitude was looking on and the soldiers were getting ready to go away. Here were the garments of Jesus, and it was the custom that the soldiers who did the work of crucifying would be the ones who would take whatever He had. If you had been there probably right after noon, you would have seen that little group of soldiers clustered over there to the side. They had divided his clothing. But now they had come to his vesture, to the cloak which was the seamless garment, and they didn't know what to do with that one piece. Shall we cut it into four pieces and give each soldier a fourth? If they had, He would not have been the Son of God because the prophet had said a thousand years before that they would not be tearing it apart or cutting it apart. It said that they would cast dice to see who would get it. "They part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vesture." So there they shoot the dice and one of them gets the garment and the other three don't. As the Bible said it would happen, so it did. Read it in John 19:23, 24.

Again the Psalmist also predicted back there in Psalm 69:21 how they would offer Him vinegar to drink as He hung there upon the cross. "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst," that one of the soldiers took a sponge, dipped it in vinegar and put it up to His lips to quench His thirst. But Jesus didn't drink it because He didn't want anything to benumb His senses. He was suffering, He was dying for the sins of the world and He needed to know what was happening. But the prophecy was fulfilled. As you read again in John 19.

Then back to Isaiah, again, 750 years before His death the prophet predicted about His death and the tomb in which He should be buried. Isaiah 53:9, "He made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth." You read the gospel story there in John again how that a rich man, Joseph of Arimathaea, had a tomb at the foot of the hill in which never man had lain and he begged for the body of Jesus. Pilate gave it to him, and they took it down and placed it in that tomb at the foot of the hill, and there Jesus was entombed in a wealthy man's tomb as the prophet said 750 years before.

Again, going back to the prophets a thousand years before it happened in Psalm 22:16 we read, "For dogs have compassed me, the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me." You know how they looked and stared upon Him but notice the part, "They pierced my hands and my feet," predicting that He would die with a death that was absolutely unknown at this time, death by crucifixion. The Romans invented death by crucifixion. It had never been heard of before. The prophet said that is how He would die, with His hands and feet pierced, nailed to the tree. And that is how our Lord died upon the cross of Calvary.

Do you know, friend, that there are over 300 such prophetic predictions in the Old Testament about this man, Christ Jesus, and every one of them is fulfilled in this man, this Christ of Nazareth so that we cannot help but believe. We are convinced that He is the Messiah who was to come. Truly the greatest marvel in the universe. If He were not more than just a man, as so many try to tell us, it would certainly be impossible to explain the influence of His life. But everything about Him points to the fact that He is more than just a man. He is also God in the flesh coming to dwell among us.

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