Jesus Prophesied in the Old Testament

Pantokrator2 (610x350)This lesson came into being from a question asking to see where Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament, but also where we find its fulfillment mentioned in the New. But before we delve directly into what the Scripture writers have foretold, we look at how Jesus Himself understood the Old Testament. This is so that we may have the “eyes of Jesus” to help us better understand what is within the Old Testament.

We will only look at part of the Old Testament. This will help give us an idea of just how thoroughly Jesus is woven into the Old Testament in direct prophecy, typology (an event that foreshadowed what Jesus would fulfill), and even poetry and metaphor. 


John 5:39: [Jesus speaking to His fellow Jews:] “You examine the Scriptures because you suppose that in them you have eternal life. Yet they testify of me.”

  • What is the purpose of Scripture?


  • If Jesus is removed from the Scripture, does it then have that which gives eternal life?


Read Luke 24:13-21, 25-27

  • What does the expression “Moses and all the prophets” mean?


  • What then is Jesus’ own understanding of the Old Testament pointing forward to Him?


Genesis 3:15

[God speaking to the serpent after the Fall into sin:] “I will put hostility between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head and you will strike his heel.”

Using both poetry and metaphor, we find God giving Satan, in the form of a serpent, a prophecy about the Messiah to come. “Seed” was a metaphor for descendant. We also find contrasting parallelism where God repeats an idea but changes who is doing what to whom.  

Even more, we find God using the same root word (shup) to point forward to what would happen between “your seed” and “her seed.” “He will crush your” (y’shuphdah) head and you “yourself will crush his” (t’shupenu) heel. The sound sharpens when it comes to the serpent’s action, giving the feel of a snake before striking its victim [pastor will demonstrate the sounds]. 


Who’s who in Genesis 3:15?

  1. The Serpent: The Devil, Satan (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9, 20:9; 1 John 3:8).
  2. The Woman: The mother of the “woman’s seed,” Mary.
  3. The Serpent’s seed: Can be demons or wicked people, or both.
  4. The Woman’s seed: Jesus, who crushes the head of the Devil (John 12:31; 16:11, 1 Corinthians 15:22-26, Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8).
  • What will the serpent’s seed do?


  • What will the woman’s seed do?


  • Discuss: What is the difference between crushing one’s head and crushing one’s heel? What does this say about how Jesus’ battle against Satan will be permanent?


Isaiah 7:14

Context: Israel is divided: The Ten northern tribes (called Israel) seceded from the two southern tribes (called Judah). The king of Judah, Ahaz, was having problems with Israel, ruled by Pekah, and Syria, ruled by Rezin. They both wanted Ahaz to join them to fight against Assyria. Ahaz knew that such an alliance was not strong enough to stand up against Assyria. Syria and Israel then colluded to overthrow King Ahaz. 

It’s then that Isaiah told Ahaz to ask God for a sign, so Ahaz would know that God would take care of him. It’s then that Ahaz said, contrary to God’s specific wishes, “I will not ask! I will not put the LORD to the test” (Isaiah 7:12). 

In defiance, Isaiah gives him a “sign,” but this is a sign for Ahaz’s eternal deliverance, not what was politically vexing him at the moment: 

“The LORD himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” [Isaiah 7:14].

  • Based on Isaiah, who will give birth to our eternal deliverance?


Matthew 1:22-23: Now all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means, “God is with us.”

  • Based on what the word “Immanuel” means, what does that say about the one to whom she gives birth?


Micah 5:2

“As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, even though you are small among the clans of Judah, from you one will come to be ruler over Israel for me. His existence if from of old, even from eternity.”

  • Where will this “ruler” be born?


  • Although using poetry, what can we learn about the age of this ruler who will come from Bethlehem?


  • What are the implications of this?


Matthew 2:1: Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod.

Luke 2:4-6

Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem. He went to be registered with Mary, who was betrothed to him and was expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to her son, the Firstborn.


Malachi 3:1

[Part of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi:] “I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly, the LORD you are looking for will come to his Temple. He is the messenger of the covenant whom you desire,” says the LORD of the Heavenly Armies.

  • Who is the “me” in this verse?


  • What else does God call the one He refers to as “me”?


  • What does this say about Jesus?


  • Who will precede “me,” “the LORD”?


Matthew 3:1-3

In those days, John the Baptizer appeared, preaching in the Judean wilderness, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” He is the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke, when he said: “He is a voice calling out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord! Make his paths straight!’”

As you can tell, in this lesson, we skipped Isaiah’s pointing forward to John the Baptizer in Isaiah 40:3.

  • When John said that “the kingdom of God has come near,” what did that say about the one whose way he was preparing?


Zechariah 9:9

[The word of the Lord foretelling of Zion’s king:] “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; shout aloud, daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

  • How will Zion’s future king enter Jerusalem?


  • What is different about this king?


Matthew 21:7-9

They [Jesus’ disciples] brought the donkey and the colt and put their coats on them for Jesus to sit on. A large crowd spread their coats on the road, while others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. Both 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!”


Wisdom 2:12-16

This is a passage from the Old-Testament Apocrypha. It describes how the ungodly see life and view the person who is righteous. It also becomes a passage that points to the ungodly in Jesus’s day (even though they thought they were the godly ones) and how they would view and treat Him. 

Let us lie in ambush for the righteous man, because he is useless to us and opposes our way of life. He denounces us for our sins against the Law, and accuses us of sins against our upbringing. He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He has become a reproof of our thoughts. Even the sight of him is a burden to us, because his life is unlike that of others, and his ways are completely different. We are considered by him as fraudulent, and he avoids our ways as if we are unclean. He proclaims the final end of the righteous as blessed, and boasts that God is his father.

  • What would the ungodly do to trap the “righteous man”?


Matthew 26:3-4: Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the courtyard of the high priest, who name was Caiaphas. They conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and to kill him.

Look over Matthew 23:23-30

  • Does the above passage from Wisdom mirror Jesus’ actions to many of the Jews in His day?


Wisdom 2:17-20

The passage from Wisdom continues, even going so far as to say what the ungodly will do to test “the righteous man.”

Let us see if his words are true. Let us test him to see what will happen to him in the end. For if the righteous man is the son of God, he will help him, and will rescue him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture that we may have proof of his gentleness and test his ability to endure. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to what he says, God will rescue him.

  • What do the ungodly assume that God will do for “the righteous man” who “is the son of God”?


Matthew 27:41-43

In the same way [as passersby were mocking Jesus on the cross] the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him. They kept saying, “He saved others but he can’t save himself! He is the king of Israel. Let him come down from the cross, and we’ll believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him–if he wants him. After all, he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

This passage from Wisdom is the only passage in the Old Testament that expects that God will rescue and deliver the Son of God from persecution. Because Jesus had called Himself “the Son of God,” that led the Jewish leaders to mock Jesus in a specific way. They said that if Jesus was who He said He was, then God should rescue and deliver Him. Such thinking came from the book of Wisdom. 

The true irony is that when the Jewish leaders were quoting Wisdom 2:18, they were showing themselves to be the ungodly ones, not Jesus. So even in their persecution and mocking of Jesus, they helped show that Jesus was “the Son of God.” 

  • When did God “rescue” Jesus? (Acts 2:24, 32; 13:30; Galatians 1:1; Romans 8:11)


The Resurrection Prophesied

The Old Testament does not have a specific prophecy that God will raise the Messiah from the dead. But understanding Old-Testament events pointing to their fulfillment in Christ, we do have historical events that point forward to Christ’s resurrection.

Jonah 1:17, 2:10

Now the LORD sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.…. Then the LORD spoke to the fish, and it spit Jonah out onto the dry land.

Matthew 12:39-40

[Jesus speaking to scribes and Pharisees who wanted a sign from God:] “An evil and adulterous generation looks for a sign. Yet no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

There is also a reference pointing to the resurrection of God’s people on the Last Day and its Messiah in Hosea 6:2: “After two days, he will revive us, on the third day he will raise us up, and we will live in his presence.”




  1. Rev. Futrell,
    Here’s an interesting passage that foretells not only the crucifixion of Christ, but the rationale behind it. It is from the Wisdom of Solomon, chapter 2.

    10 Let us oppress the poor righteous man, let us not spare the widow, nor reverence the ancient gray hairs of the aged.

    11 Let our strength be the law of justice: for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth.

    12 Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education.

    13 He professeth to have the knowledge of God: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord.

    14 He was made to reprove our thoughts.

    15 He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion.

    16 We are esteemed of him as counterfeits: he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father.

    17 Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him.

    18 For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.

    19 Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience.

    20 Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected.