The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:9-12)
When the Son of God became a human being as Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish people generally did not recognise him as God’s Anointed One, their Messiah. There were at least three reasons for this.
1. The Jews had certain expectations about what the Messiah would do – and Jesus did not fit those expectations. Note however that different groups of Jews had different expectations.
2. They also had certain expectations about who the Messiah would be – and Jesus did not fit those either. In particular, because they were convinced that there is only one God, nobody was expecting the Messiah to be God born as a human being, which is why it took so long for Jews to recognise that Jesus is indeed God.
3. Only some of the prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled in the Incarnation. Others are waiting to be fulfilled when Christ returns in glory. So this season of Christmas will always seem in some ways unsatisfactory, even frustrating. Because we are celebrating the beginning of the end, not the end of the end. We are celebrating the incarnation of the Son of God – but only his first coming in humility, not yet his Second Coming with the glory of all the angels. But we have hope, because Christ’s first coming guarantees His second coming. Since He has come as a baby in a manger, we can be absolutely certain that He will be returning as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All these glorious promises of Messiah’s coming (and many more) which were not fulfilled at His incarnation WILL BE FULFILLED when Christ returns. The best is definitely yet to come!
Below are some of the most significant prophecies which shaped the Jewish expectations of the Messiah. Which of reasons 1-3 would explain why we do not see parts of these fulfilled in Jesus’s incarnation, life and ministry?
The most familiar Christmas prophecies come from Isaiah – just the first three were in yesterday’s talk.
Isaiah 9: 2-7
Isaiah 7:14 (The Jews completely failed to associate this prophecy with the Messiah.)
Malachi 3:1-5 (There was this expectation that God Himself would come to His people, in judgement.)
Psalm 72:1-19 (This points beyond God’s chosen King to the Messiah who is to come.)
2 Samuel 7:11-16 (The covenant with David points to Great David’s Greater Son.)
See also the following passages in Isaiah
Although Jesus specifically applied that prophecy to himself in Luke 4:16-21, the Jews failed to identify the Anointed Deliverer in Isaiah 61:1-3 with the Messiah. They similarly completely failed to see the significance of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53:3-13.
We just don’t have time to look at what other prophets say about ‘The Day of the Lord.’