Question: Did Jesus arrange His life to pretend to fulfill prophecy, as some have alleged?
Some say Jesus really lived, but that He knew about the prophecies and simply deliberately arranged to fulfill them all to proclaim Himself Messiah. Indeed, we see in several cases that Jesus knew He was fulfilling prophecy, or the Gospel writer indicates that something Jesus did fulfilled a specific messianic prophecy.
But there are two main problems with this theory. One is that it makes Jesus into a deceiver, pretending to be someone He wasn’t. Imagine Him trying to hoodwink people with sleight-of-hand fake miracles because it was prophesied the Messiah would heal people and do miracles. Could anyone by trickery or sleight of hand convince devout Jews to change their tightly held beliefs, causing them to be persecuted?
Also, this would mean a deceiver would have given the world its highest moral code, taught honesty and love of both neighbor and enemies, and given the most self-sacrificing example the world has ever known. And finally this deceiver’s ploy would have ended in death. If someone wants to believe the incredible and the ridiculous, this is a good theory.
The second problem is that many of the prophecies are beyond the control of a mere human being to fulfill.
A person can’t decide in what city they are going to be born. In Jesus’ case it was the decree of a pagan king that God used to cause Him to be born in Bethlehem.
The time in history of His birth is predicted. A person can’t arrange to be born in a certain decade or year.
You can’t decide who your parents and grandparents will be; yet all this was prophesied of the Messiah. His lineage was one of the proofs of Messiahship.
If Jesus was faking, He couldn’t control things such as: His betrayal; the mocking; the beatings; the soldiers on duty that day who just happened not to break Jesus’ legs after being crucified, as was their normal practice, but instead pierced His side in exact fulfillment of prophecy (see Zechariah 12:10 and John 19:34).
How could He control the fact that He had to be born into the world at the time when crucifixion was being used by the Romans and then control the manner of His execution?
How could He control the reactions of His enemies, which were predicted, even down to their very words in some cases, as well as their rejecting Him and His message or casting lots for His clothing (Psalm 22)?
And imagine, as we said before, Jesus convincing His disciples that He had died and then risen, with all power in heaven and earth given to Him, and then faking an ascension! All this would be a greater miracle than if Jesus is really who He claimed to be.
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