The witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection also testify that His death and resurrection were in accordance with the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:4, Luke 24:44). Another line of evidence that the seeker needs to consider about Jesus is prophecy found in the Old Testament or Jewish Tanach.
Alfred Edersheim listed 456 passages which were interpreted as Messianic in ancient Jewish literature. J. Barton Payne in his Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy identified 1239 predictions in the Old Testament (6,641 verses) of which 127 (3,348 verses) were personal Messianic predictions. An important point for the seeker to remember is that the prophecies were written before the birth of Jesus. We can know that from the Jewish literature of the time, the manuscripts of the Old Testament that date before the first century A.D. (e.g., the Dead Sea Scrolls) and the translation of the Old Testament into Greek (the Septuagint) which dates from 200 to 100 B.C. We do not have to worry about a criticism which would claim the prophecies were written after Christ to make it look like Jesus had fulfilled them.
Peter Stoner was chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College. He had students calculate probabilities for eight Messianic passages. He attempted always to remain conservative in their estimates. They found the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all 8 prophecies was 1 in 1017.
Stoner illustrated the probability by imagining 1017 silver dollars dumped onto the state of Texas. They would cover all of the state two feet deep. Stoner wrote: “Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.”
We are faced with the choice between the inspiration of God guiding the prophets or some incredibly difficult odds. And as Stoner noted, it is not just a matter of 8 prophecies. We have more than 100 that could be added to the calculations. Stoner calculated if we were to take it up to 48 prophecies, the odds would then be 1 in 10157. Stoner concluded with these words: “Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world.”1
The witnesses claim that Jesus’ passion and resurrection are in accordance to the Scriptures. Have you examined? What have you decided?
1Peter W. Stoner, Science Speaks: An Evaluation of Certain Christian Evidences (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), pp. 99-112.