Prophecies About the Life and Ministry 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 life and ministry of Jesus. These prophecies provide evidence that Jesus truly is the Messiah that God promised.
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. John the Baptist
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
Isaiah 40 tells us that God would send someone ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for Jesus and his ministry. In the book of John (and other gospel books), we see that John the Baptist, who was a cousin of Jesus, fulfilled that role. John was sent to prepare the people for the ministry of Jesus.
1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
After hearing that John the Baptist had been imprisoned, Jesus went to Galilee. The Bible tells us that this decision fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah. Much of Jesus’ ministry would be in Galilee and the surrounding areas.
1 My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
One part of Jesus’ ministry was teaching. One way he often taught was in parables. A parable is a story or metaphor that makes a spiritual point. Jesus used parables so that only those who really were seeking after him would be able to understand the message.
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
For those who were looking for someone with power, Jesus came with the power to heal. His ministry was filled with healing the sick, the lame, the blind, even raising the dead. The passage in Matthew 11 gives an overview of this ministry, but the gospels are filled with stories that fulfill this prophecy.
3 He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
As God, Jesus not only was able to see with his eyes and hear with his ears. He was able to see into the thoughts of those around him to judge their attitudes and actions. The gospels record that Jesus did this on multiple occasions. The story in Luke 6 is one of these occasions.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
[Jesus said,] “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Psalm 23 refers to the Lord as a shepherd. In the “I AM” statements in John, Jesus tells us that HE is the good shepherd. One of the key characteristics of a good shepherd is that he is willing to lay down his life for the life of the sheep, which is exactly what Jesus did for us.
7. Destroy the Devil’s Work
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
Way back when the first sin happened and God cursed humans and Satan (the serpent), God promised that the offspring of the woman would crush Satan’s head. That’s exactly why Jesus came as the offspring of a woman—to destroy the work that Satan was doing on this earth.
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Zechariah prophesied that Jesus would be treated like a king, righteous and victorious. As the people praised him, he would ride on a donkey. This was fulfilled on Palm Sunday as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey while the people shouted “Hosanna!”
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.
Despite Jesus’ ministry of teaching and miracles, the people, especially the religious leaders, hated Jesus. This passage in Luke is only one example of many when people rose up in anger against Jesus. Yet they were never able to harm him until the appointed time came.
12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, one of his own disciples betrayed him so that he would be handed over to be killed. The religious leaders paid Judas 30 pieces of silver for this betrayal. After the betrayal, Judas was gripped by remorse and returned the money. The leaders used it to buy a potter’s field, as was prophesied in Zechariah 11.
From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to the end, the Old Testament prophesied everything that people would need to identify the Messiah. Yet many still didn’t believe, or actively hated and despised him. They refused to accept him, which led to his betrayal and death.
If your favorite prophecy about Jesus’ list and ministry 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’ death, which resulted from his betrayal.