Is it possible that your standard Jewish citizen of Roman Judea would have had foreknowledge of the Old Testament Prophecies and planned to have fulfilled them with an intent. Would Jesus have done such a thing to manipulate the prophecies purposely in order to convince his followers and enemies that he was indeed the Christ and Son of God?


What a great question.  Actually, I have thought about this quite a bit.   You have a good point.  Let me respond.

First of all, you definitely do have a point.  There is no doubt that Jesus was aware of the messianic prophecies and aware that he was fulfilling them, as can be seen from John 3:39 (these are the Scriptures that testify about me) and Luke 24:44 (“everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”).  

In fact, in at least one case, we know that Jesus was not only aware that he was fulfilling a prophecy, but seems to have aided in making it happen.  This in his fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 that the Messiah would “ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  In Luke 19:30 Jesus tells his disciples to go ahead of the group to a village where they will find a donkey colt for him to ride into Jerusalem.  If you read this passage, it is possible that Jesus was miraculously aware of the availability of this donkey, but at least as likely that he had prearranged the availability of the donkey for his prophecy fulfillment.

So your thesis that Jesus may have manipulated circumstances in order to fulfill known messianic prophecies seems to be at least in part true.  Other prophecies Jesus probably was aware of and probably consciously fulfilled would include the prophecy in Isaiah 53:7 that the suffering Messiah would be silent when before his accusers.  It is quite likely that when was before his accusers he willfully was quiet, in part, so that he could fulfill this prediction.

However, if the proposal is that this can explain the fulfillment of messianic prophecies in general, then this claim definitely breaks down upon further inspection.  First of all there is the fact that prophecies of the Messiah have him being killed.  Psalm 22:16 has the Messiah being crucified, and Isaiah 53 has him tortured and killed.  If Jesus was planning on manipulating events in order to have a triumphant claim to be the Messiah, then this would have been a bad plan.  The prophecies of which Jesus was aware he needed to fulfill involved the end of his own work and his death by torture.  It is hard to imagine a manipulate glory-seeking pretender going in that direction!

Besides, the most famous messianic prophecies involve things Jesus certainly could not have manipulated.  For example, according to Micah 5:2 it says that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  We know Jesus was born in Bethlehem and it is difficult to imagine him “manipulating” events in order to be born in this minor town (unless, of course, we allow that Jesus is God, in which case he could have pulled this off!). Next, consider the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1 that the Messiah would come from Galilee (“the land of Zebulun and Naphtali”).  That, too, would be hard for Jesus to manipulate, unless he made a suggestion to his parents as a tiny infant that they should stay in Nazareth.  We could add the prophecy that the Messiah would be pierced in Isaiah 53:5.  I suppose Jesus might have subtly suggested to the Roman soldiers that they should pierce him after he died, but this is a big stretch.  Also, there is the prophecy that his garments would be gambled over while he was crucified (Psalm 22:16).  Did Jesus suggest this option to the soldiers while he was busy being tortured to death on the cross?  Perhaps.  Then there is the prophecy in Zechariah 11:12 that the Messiah/God would be “sold” for 30 pieces of silver–the exact price Judas received for selling Jesus out.  It certainly was not possible for Jesus to manipulate this decision, again, unless he was who he claimed to be, which is God in the flesh.

In conclusion, at first glance, your thought does have some traction, but if we look at the sum of all the prophecies in the Old Testament of the Jewish Messiah, the conclusion is that there is no conceivable way that Jesus as a human pretender to messianic status could have manipulated all the circumstances into legitimizing his false claim to be the Messiah.  Rather, it is clear from what happened that Jesus is in fact what he claimed to be in John 5:39 and Luke 24:44–the one the prophets predicted would come to save Israel and all humans from their sins.

John Oakes

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