Opening prayer –
Begin by praying this prayer.
By your word, eternal God, your creation sprang forth, and we were given the breath of life. By your word, eternal God, death is overcome, Christ is raised from the tomb, and we are given new life in the power of your Spirit. May we boldly proclaim this good news in our words and our deeds, rejoicing always in your powerful presence; through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Amen.
Part 2: Waiting for the Messiah
The Old Testament is filled with teachings and statements about the Messiah, the One who is to come who will save God’s people. According to Judaism 101, the Messiah will “be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). . . . He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15).”
While the prophets don’t give a specific timeline for the Messiah’s arrival in the world, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea speak of the Messiah restoring the people of Israel to their homeland and of re-establishing worship in the temple, Jewish law and peace.
Across the centuries, a number of men were identified having the potential to be the Messiah. While Christians, believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Jews living in the world today believe that Jesus did not fulfill the prophetic requirements to be the Messiah, so they continue to watch and wait for their Messiah to come.
Part 3: Prophecy and Fulfillment
During his lifetime, Jesus’ followers began to wonder if he was the Messiah, in fact several follower, including Peter professed him as Lord. It was only after Jesus’ resurrection, that he spoke openly and directly about who he was. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus sat down with the followers he had been walking with and “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” (Lk 24:27) Unfortunately, Luke doesn’t record Jesus’ explanation and the prophecies he included, but here are a few of the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah and ways that they are fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament.
The Gospel of Matthew provides a number of strong connections between the prophets and Jesus. Take a look at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew (1:1-17). You will see that the Gospel goes to great lengths to establish that Jesus is a member of the family of King David and that his linage goes all the way back to Abraham. In Matthew 1:22-23, the Gospel says that the birth of Jesus takes place in a particular way to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets. In Matthew 11:7-10, we hear that John is the messenger foretold in Malachi 3:1 who is preparing the way for Jesus.
Part 4: So What Does this Mean?
From the time of Abraham, the people of Israel have struggled. They have struggled with faithfulness. They have struggled with their neighbors. They have struggled with exile. They have struggled with slavery. They have struggled with obeying the laws. Despite those struggles, God has never abandoned God’s people. Each time they wandered off course, God would send a prophet to call them back into relationship, to guide them into faithfulness and to remind them that the Messiah would come to bring them salvation. In the person of Jesus, the promise and the hope proclaimed by the prophets is fulfilled.
Discussion Questions answer in comments below:
- Why do you think it is important for the New Testament writers to establish Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies?
- What does it mean to you to know that God keeps God’s promises?
Part 5: Conclusion & Closing Prayer
Closing Prayer – Pray the follow prayer at the close of the session.
O loving God, to turn away from you is to fall, to turn toward you is to rise, and to stand before you is to abide forever. Grant us, dear God, in all our duties your help; in all our uncertainties your guidance; in all our dangers your protection; and in all our sorrows your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (A prayer of Augustine of Hippo)
Opening and Closing Prayers adapted from Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2017 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #25165.