The Lamb of God
One of the characteristics of the writings of the Old Testament is the predictions of things to come in the future. In his many revelations to the men of old God continuously revealed what would happen in times to come. This is known as prophecy and it was through the prophets that God gave these revelations. As he said to the Prophet Isaiah
"I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you." (Isaiah 48.5).
It was the plan and purpose of God to reveal what he was going to do before he did it so that any sincere enquirer might know that, when it came about, it was truly an act of God as he had spoken long be forehand through the prophets of the event.
He also spoke beforehand to these prophets so that the generations following these events would not be misled by subsequent denials that the event was of God or had ever happened. An example of this is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In this age and for the past thirteen centuries there has been considerable controversy over this between Muslims and Christians. The crucifixion of Christ is one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith but is denied in the Quran.
There are hundreds of millions of Christians in the world who firmly believe that Jesus Christ was crucified while hundreds of millions of Muslims deny it. Both religions acknowledge the succession of prophets in the Old Testament and with the Jews recognise that all God's revelations of old were given to these men. Now, knowing that there would be such a dispute in later ages over the fate of this one man Jesus Christ, would God leave this whole matter hang ing in the air, so to speak? It is not reasonable to conclude that he would and we are extremely privileged in having preserved for us the Old Testament documents and writings of those prophets who are recognised and acknowledged by Muslims, Christians and Jews. The issue of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is thoroughly canvassed in these writings and it is to them that we now turn to investigate the matter.
The Prophet David
We shall begin with one of the major prophets, the Prophet David (Dawud). We turn firstly to Psalm 22 where the crucifixion is prophesied by him.
"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; thou dost lay me in the dust of death." (Psalm 22.14-15).
A scientific study of the effects of crucifixion shows that the agonies of which David speaks are such as would be suffered by a man on a cross. Now David lived about a thousand years before Jesus Christ, long before crucifixion was ever invented, but here he does indeed prophesy the crucifixion of someone to come. That it was Jesus is obvious from the first verse of the Psalm which reads:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Psalm 22.1).
While he was on the cross Jesus Christ uttered these very words "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (See Matthew 27.46). The details of the crucifixion are also carefully outlined in the Psalm:
"They have pierced my hands and feet, they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them and for my raiment they cast lots" (Psalm 22. 16-18).
It was a common practice in Roman crucifixions to nail a man to a cross and thereafter a division of his clothing between the soldiers performing the deed took place. There is something in this verse however which merits closer attention. It was not common for lots to be cast for this clothing but David expressly predicts that this would be done in Jesus' case.
We turn to Mark's Gospel firstly where we read:
"And they crucified him (Jesus) and divided his garments among them." (Mark 15.24).
And in turning to the Gospel of John we find the fulfilment of the finer details of David's prophecy:
"When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be'." (John 19. 23,24).
The manner in which the details of the crucifixion were prophesied must strike any reasonable man who objectively seeks for truth. Foreknowing the many controversies that would arise, God spoke through the Prophet David of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and gave him minute details so that subsequent searchers for truth could have irrefutable and perfect knowledge of the plans and purposes of God.
We also read in Psalm 22:
"All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; 'He committed his cause to the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him'." (Psalm 22. 7-8).
Here the one on the cross speaks of all those around him who are mocking him because of his total predicament and the apparent inability of God to save him. Who were these people?
"So alsO the chief priests, with the scribes and the elders mocked him." (Matthew 27.41).
"Those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads." (Matthew 27.39).
The Jewish leaders had at last secured the end of Jesus, so they thought, and unwittingly fulfilled David's prophecy and quote when they said:
"He saved others, he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said 'I am the Son of God'." (Matthew 27. 42- 43).
The Psalm continues to outline further even the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the deliverance of his soul from the finality of death and the ultimate glorification of his name but a study of this is not within the scope of this booklet. However, surely it does not fail to strike you deep within that the Christian belief in the crucifixion is based on the kind of evidence which even partial men cannot in any way gainsay? The predictions of his crucifixion have been drawn from this Psalm not in a way by which the verses have to be forced to yield the meaning sought after or by any inferences or submissions. Such tactics are unnecessary because the prophecies are as clear and detailed as anyone could wish them to be!
Another Psalm which clearly outlines the thoughts and details of the crucifixion is Psalm 69. Here too we see the very thoughts in the mind of Jesus Christ foretold a thousand years before. Other passages in the Old Testament with similar thoughts in the minds of the prophets are mentioned on the cover of this booklet (at top of this page). In Psalm 69 we read:
"More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause." (Psalm 69.4).
Jesus himself made it plain that this was said of him when he said to his disciples:
"If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law 'They hated me without a cause'." (John 15.24-25).
The Psalms are full of such prophecies but one last word from them will suffice to show that God has given to all men everywhere the clearest possible proof of the truth of the Christian doctrine of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ so as to leave without excuse those who deny it. We read:
"He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken." (Psalm 34.20).
It was also a common practice to break the legs of those who were crucified to hasten the death which would otherwise be protracted. This was especially the case where the Jewish Sabbath was approaching, At about 3-o-clock on the day of crucifixion we read:
"So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled 'Not a bone of him shall be broken'." (John 19.32,33,36).
The Prophet Zechariah
Another great prophet of old predicted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and that was Zechariah (not to be confused with the Zechariah of the New Testament who was the father of John the Baptist and is the prophet "Zakariya" of the Quran). We read:
"When they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn." (Zechariah 12.10).
In John's Gospel we are told that instead of breaking Jesus' legs, "One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear." (John 19.34).
John makes it plain that this was a fulfilment of the prophecy in the book of Zechariah:
"And again another scripture says 'They shall look on him whom they have pierced'." (John 19.37).
The same apostle John reveals the fullest fulfilment of the prophecy when he says of Jesus:
"Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth shall wail on account of him." (Revelation 1.7).
Another great prophecy in the book of Zechariah was also referred to by Jesus himself. We read:
"'Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,' says the Lord of hosts. 'Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered'." (Zechariah 13.7).
Jesus referred to himself as the "Good Shepherd" (John 10.11) and on the night before he was delivered to be crucified he said to the disciples:
"You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered'." (Matthew 26.31).
When Jesus was arrested a little while later, the verse was fulfilled as all his disciples fled away from him. With David we now have a second prophet in whose writings we find the clearest possible details about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ foretold.
The Prophet Isaiah
Of all the great prophetic oracles of the Old Testament, none surpasses that of the Prophet Isaiah. In his writings are found the predictions of the birth of Christ of a virgin and likewise many revelations are given about him and his life.
In turning to his book, it should first be well considered how strong the arguments are for its total authenticity. Note these two points:
The great prophecy in the book of Isaiah is that found in Isaiah 52.13 to Isaiah 53.12. There is such a wealth of prophecies that only brief comment can be made on this great chapter. This passage not only predicts the crucifixion as those we have perused already but it thoroughly shows the reason for it. Here is the revelation of God in its fullness.
God speaks and begins with these words: "Behold my servant" (Isaiah 52.13). He begins by calling the reader's attention to this one man Jesus Christ, God's beloved servant.
"Many were astonished at him - his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance." (Isaiah 52.14)
This servant of God was to suffer more than any other. Note that the past tense is used to describe this as if it had already happened. This is known as the "prophetic past" tense. It is written down as past because God has declared it and it will surely happen, so surely that it is written down as history already! So very sure was the prediction of the crucifixion.
"He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief ... he was despised and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53.2,3).
Jesus came to his own people, the Jews, but was rejected by them. The did not esteem him as God's own servant because he had no outward appearance of esteem or dignity (as the world sees it) nor did he ever obtain any great position of secular leadership.
"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken." (Is. 53.4).
Because Jesus suffered the world declared that he was therefore stricken of God, presumeably for sins or misdemeanours unobservable to the world. Such was a common attitude in his day. But Jesus was in suffering for others. He was crucified for the pains, failings and shortcomings of others. As Paul so decidedly put it and with a thought to this passage:
"Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15.3).
So God, speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, now boldly proclaims that Jesus, the sinless one, would take the penalty due to others, the sinners, so that they could be saved for all eternity. We read:
"HE ... was wounded for OUR transgressions, HE ... was bruised for OUR iniquities, Upon HIM ... was the chastisement that made US whole, with HIS stripes ... WE are healed; All WE like sheep have gone astray; WE have turned EVERY ONE to his own way ... and the Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of US ALL." (Isaiah 53.5-6).
The fullness of the prophecy in this great Chapter 53 of Isaiah is as follows:
There are many predictions of the crucifixion and details of its purpose in the prophecies of the Old Testament but this one passage from Isaiah is so full and substantial that it suffices for our purpose.
Jesus is the central theme of the revelations of the former prophets. Abraham rejoiced to see his day (John 8.56), Moses preferred to suffer abuse on his behalf rather than to enjoy all the wealth of Egypt. He saw the payment of his sins in Jesus Christ and he considered this greater wealth (Hebrews 11.26). The evidence is entirely conclusive. God has given to all men everywhere substantial proof of the truth of the Christian claims about Jesus and for every true seeker after salvation God has furnished in these writings the way of salvation in its completeness.
The Lamb of God
Not only is the crucifixion of Christ predicted in the oracles of the Old Testament prophets but we find that Jesus himself consistently foretold the death he was to die. He also gave the reason for it:
"The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20.28).
It will profit us considerably to read through a number of other statements of Jesus about his death:
"The Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day." (Matthew 20.18).
"The bread which I shall give for the life of this world is my flesh." (John 6.51).
"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down and power to take it again." (John 10.11,17-18).
"The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the chief priests and the elders and the scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised, Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men." (Luke 9.22,44).
Jesus not only knew of the crucifixion awaiting him, he "set his face like a flint" (Isaiah 50.7) towards it and knew the exact moment when it would be:
"Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father save me from this hour? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour." (John 12.27).
When the Jewish people rushed out of Jerusalem as he approached it for the last time to persuade him to go back, Jesus replied "It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem" (Luke 13.33) and he pressed on. Later on he said "Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?" (John 18.11) and in this mind he resolutely faced the cross.
Not only did he know of his pending death on the cross, Jesus also recalled the prophecies which had been uttered centuries beforehand about it.
"Everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished." (Luke 18.31).
Jesus knew the scriptures and clearly stated that all the predictions about the coming servant of God were to be fulfilled in him. The whole purpose and plan of God was that men should be redeemed by the perfect sacrifice of this one man from heaven, Jesus Christ. Entire complacent with his Father's will, Jesus came to save sinners by becoming a sacrifice for them.
The crucifixion of Christ caught all the disciples by surprise. They had hoped for a material and social liberation from the oppression of the Romans and had expected that he would secure this for them. The very crucifixion surprised them all and when his tomb was empty on the third day, they were all the more confused and when Jesus met two of them after his resurrection he rebuked them for their unbelief in the prophecies:
"O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24.25-26).
The next verse tells us that "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24.27)
There was assuredly no excuse for these men. They had before them in their very own scriptures all the detailed predictions and prophecies concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Indeed there will be no excuse for any man who acknowledges that the line of prophets recorded in the Old Testament is correct, for their writings are recorded for all history and the truth of the Christian doctrine of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead is a subject not for debating but plainly for believing. Jesus confirmed this himself:
"Everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead." (Lk. 24.44,46).
In conclusion let us consider one last aspect of the prophecies of the crucifixion of Christ and then reflect for a moment on the purpose of it. In Isaiah 53 we read of the coming Saviour described as "like a lamb led to the slaughter" (v.7). In the call to the Prophet Abraham we see firstly God's revelation of his plan of salvation given when he told Abraham to sacrifice a lamb instead of his son. Then throughout the ecclesiastical history of the Jews thousands of lambs were sacrificed as types of atonement for sin. Now in Isaiah we read of the great Servant of God who was to come who was to offer himself like a lamb. It is to this man that God would draw your attention and when Jesus finally came John the Baptist exclaimed of him:
"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1.29).
The Apostle Peter later said of Jesus Christ:
"The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and enquired about this salvation; they enquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory." (1 Peter 1.10).
While declaring the salvation which was to come through this Lamb of God of whom they spoke, all the prophets wondered about the identity of this saviour of the world. Today we know for a certainty that it was Jesus. With this complete revelation, what must a man do to obtain the grace of God and receive the full benefits of the forgiveness Christ obtained for men? We are told that no one will enter paradise but only "those who are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Revelation 21.27). How does one join this body?
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16.31). By turning from every other way and every other path to an exclusive faith in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, you will be saved for all eternity. Outside of this way, there is no other path given through the prophets or any other way of salvation. God will receive you on the basis of a total commital to Jesus Christ and on this basis only.
"Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7.10).
This booklet presupposes that the Muslim reader holds to the orthodox Muslim belief that Jesus Christ was never put on the cross but was delivered before the crucifixion and that someone else was crucified in his place. Any reader who holds to the other belief that Jesus was crucified but did not die on the cross but came down alive may write for the following:
"Was Christ Crucified?" - A point by point reply.
"The Deliverance of Jesus - Resuscitation or Resurrection?" - An answer to The Crescent and the Cross by A.S.K. Joommal and M.O. Seepye.
Not only was the crucifixion of Christ expressly predicted in the Old Testament it was also clearly foreshadowed in many ways as well. Write for:
Other literature is also available from the Publisher MERCSA.
Pamphlets presently available on the subject are:
Evidence for the Resurrection.
The Righteousness of God.
God's Plan of Salvation.
The Rich Young Ruler.
All these are available freely from the Publishers. A free Bible will also be sent on written request.
Books by John Gilchrist
Answering Islam Home Page