Prophecies About the Death of Jesus
For our advent series this year, we are looking at Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus. As we work our way chronologically through the life of Jesus, this week we’ll focus on 10 prophecies about the death of Jesus. There are so many good ones in this category! I won’t be able to cover them all, but it will give you an idea that God carefully planned every moment of Jesus’ death to fulfill his purpose and glorify himself.
For each prophecy, I’ll include the Old Testament prophecy, then I’ll give the New Testament passage that shows that the prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus. Each verse or passage will be linked to the chapter in which it appears in case you want to read more context for each pair. I will also add a bit of commentary with each one so you can more easily identify the prophecy given in the passage.
1. Passover Lamb
5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.
Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Before the Israelites left Egypt, they were told to celebrate what would come to be known as the Passover. They were to take a lamb without defect—the perfect sacrifice—and slaughter it. They would take the blood and put it on their doorframes so that when the Angel of the Lord came, he would pass over their house rather than killing the firstborn. Through his death on the cross, Jesus became that Passover Lamb one final time for all people.
2. Blood for Atonement
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
When giving the Israelites the rules for living, God set in place that blood makes atonement for life—it settles the score for a person’s sin. This was the basis for many of the sacrifices that God required in the Old Testament law. When Jesus died, he poured out his blood so that we could all have atonement—forgiveness of our sins through his blood.
3. Plot to Kill Jesus
For I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed.
Jesus didn’t die a natural death like so many others. Instead, the religious leaders actively plotted to kill him. They wanted him finished, gone, out of their lives forever. And sooner rather than later.
4. Mocked and Abused
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
This is one of the most horrific parts of Jesus’ death. It’s hard for us to comprehend how awful this was. The soldiers mocked Jesus, beat him, spit on him, and did everything they could think of to humiliate him. They didn’t care how much pain they inflicted or how much they damaged his body. And he suffered all of that willingly for us.
22 If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, 23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
In Jewish tradition, anyone who was hung on a pole was cursed. A cross, as was used in Jesus’ crucifixion, was a pole used to hang the person to be killed. Jesus was killed in a way that was cursed by the law, but he did this to redeem us.
6. Cast Lots
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
“They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.”
So this is what the soldiers did.
Psalm 22 is filled with prophecies about the death of Jesus. We’ll look at a few here, but I would encourage you to read the whole thing and investigate each prophecy. Even the smallest detail of prophecy, like casting lots for Jesus’ clothing, was fulfilled through the events surrounding Jesus’ death.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
As Jesus hung on the cross, he felt forsaken. He felt like God turned his back on him. Jesus was so in tune with his Father for his entire ministry. They were and still are one God. Yet in that moment of darkness and pain, when Jesus needed him the most, God turned his back. Jesus felt the full brunt of what it means to be rejected and punished by God.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
One of the many things that Jesus suffered on the cross was thirst. Even the way that his thirst was quenched, with vinegar, fulfilled a prophecy.
“I clothe the heavens with darkness
and make sackcloth its covering.”
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.
When Jesus was crucified, something unexpected happened. Between noon and three in the afternoon, the time of day when it is normally the brightest, God brought darkness over the land.
10. It is Finished
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
At the end of Psalm 22, after speaking many prophecies about the death of Jesus, the chapter ends with “He has done it!” This is very similar in tone to what Jesus proclaimed when he breathed his last breath: “It is finished.” The work that Jesus had come to do to offer his life as a sacrifice for our sins, the pain that he endured to bring us eternal life, was finally complete.
The prophecies about Jesus’ death and the events surrounding Jesus’ death that were recorded in the gospels tell us one thing: God had Jesus’ death perfectly scripted. He knew exactly what needed to happen for his purposes to be fulfilled—for Jesus to pay the ultimate price, to be the final sacrifice for sin once and for all for anyone who believes on him.
If your favorite prophecy about Jesus’ death wasn’t listed, share it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
Come back next week to learn about prophecies related to Jesus’ resurrection, ascension, and eternal reign. Thankfully, Jesus’ death isn’t the end of the story!