Was the crucifixion of Jesus written about in detail a thousand years before it happened?
Dr. Reagan: Did you know that one of the most remarkable prophecies in the Bible describes the death of Jesus in detail? What makes it particularly remarkable is that it was written more than one thousand years before Jesus was born and more than 700 years before the Romans perfected crucifixion as a method of execution.
Skull Hill, or Golgotha, is one of the possible sites of the crucifixion of Jesus. The hill is located in Jerusalem just north of the Old City's Damascus Gate. On the hill there appears to be a skull including two eye sockets and the bridge of a nose.
During Old Testament times, leading up to the time of Jesus, Skull Hill was a place of execution where people were stoned to death. This site fronts on the highway to Damascus. The Romans always crucified people along such major highways in order to maximize exposure to what happens when you challenge Rome. But, regardless of where the crucifixion took place in Jerusalem, whether here or some other site, the event itself was prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures over 1,000 years before it occurred. You can find that prophecy in Psalm 22.
Prophecy Validates Jesus
Dr. Reagan: There are many reasons to study Bible prophecy. One of the most important is that it validates Jesus as God in the flesh.
Nathan Jones: There are over 300 prophecies concerning the First Coming of the Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures. 108 of these are separate and distinct. The odds of only eight being fulfilled accidentally in the life of one person is 1 in 10 to the 17th power, or one in one hundred quadrillion. Such a fulfillment is beyond the realm of possibility!
Dr. Reagan: A mathematician by the name of Peter Stoner in his book Science Speaks illustrates the meaning of 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Now, I've never had the opportunity to meet Peter Stoner before he died, but I know he must have been a good man because he used the state of Texas to illustrate his point!
Stoner says that if you want to get an idea of 1 in 10 to the 17th power you must start by filling the state of Texas knee deep with silver dollars. Then, you fly over the state, drop out one silver dollar with a black check mark on it. Next, turn loose about 10,000 bulldozers and let them rampage around the state for several years to get the silver dollars mixed up real well. Then, take a blindfolded man and turn him loose in the sea of silver dollars. The odds that on the first draw he will pick up the silver dollar with the black check mark is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.
I want to emphasize the point that we are not talking about coincidence here. The fulfillment of these prophecies in the life of Jesus is absolutely beyond the realm of coincidence. And, keep in mind, Peter Stoner was only talking about eight of the prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus. The total that was fulfilled was 108!
Now, in addition to the fact that Bible prophecy validates Jesus as God in the flesh, it also helps us to better understand Jesus — to understand who He was and what He did.
Nathan Jones: And, one of the most remarkable prophecies in that regard is contained in Psalm 22. This psalm was written by David one thousand years before the birth of Jesus. Get your Bibles ready.
Psalm 22:1-2 — Messiah's Spiritual Suffering
Dr. Reagan: The psalm begins with a cry of lament: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest." As you can see, the psalm begins with an agonizing cry of despair. David cries out: "Where are You, God?" He bemoans the fact that although he has been seeking the Lord's help both day and night, all he has received in response is silence.
Nathan Jones: Have you ever had that experience? Well, if you pray regularly, and I know you do, this happens because God answers prayers in three ways: Yes, No, and Wait. Yes and no we can deal with, but it's the waiting that wears on our nerves. That's because we usually desire instant gratification rather than God's will in His perfect timing.
Dr. Reagan: David had experienced this feeling before. An example can be found in Psalm 6:6-7 where he wrote: "I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief; it has become old because of all my adversaries." David says, "Lord my bed is wet from my tears. My eyes are weary from my grief. When are you going to hear me and respond?"
This type of statement is not an evidence of a loss of faith. The psalmist would not have even bothered to cry out to God if he had lost his faith. It is more an expression of impatience and a verbalization of a sense of desperation.
Psalm 22:3-5 — Messiah Reaffirming the Faith
Nathan Jones: In fact, after issuing his cry of despair, David immediately reaffirms his faith in God. He reminds himself of God's faithfulness by proclaiming: "Yet, You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out, and were delivered; In You they trusted, and were not disappointed." As if to preserve his sanity in the midst of his suffering, the psalmist reminds himself of God's faithfulness in responding to the desperate needs of his forefathers.
Dr. Reagan: Now, it's one thing for David to cry out to God in desperation in his frail humanity, but how can the fact be explained that Jesus, the Son of God, exclaimed the same plaintive cry while hanging on the cross? Listen to what it says in Matthew 27:46 "About the ninth hour [3pm] Jesus cried out in a loud voice saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'"
Again, how can such words coming from the mouth of the Son of God be explained? Well, I believe, as with David, this expression was not related to a loss of faith. Rather, it was a desperate cry of inexpressible agony and lament over the separation from God the Father that Jesus experienced on the Cross.
Nathan Jones: You see, the greatest suffering that Jesus experienced in His passion was not physical or emotional. It was spiritual. Think of it. He had experienced eternally a perfect fellowship and love with God the Father. Then, suddenly, that sweet communion was broken because your sins and mine were placed on Jesus, and the wrath of God which we deserve was poured out on the Son. Here's how the Apostle Paul put it in 2 Corinthians 5 "He [God the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Dr. Reagan: Again, for one brief moment the perfect fellowship between Father and Son was broken because our sins were placed on Jesus, and the holiness of God cannot countenance sin. God the Father had in effect to turn His back on His Son, prompting Jesus to cry out from the depths of His soul: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
In the next teaching segment on the Passion of Jesus in prophecy, we'll continue our study of Psalm 22, looking at the Messiah's emotional distress and solitude.