Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus the Prophet

His short-term & long-term Prophecies

By Dawud Jabal

Jesus is widely acknowledged as a Prophet. He was identified as a Prophet in the Bible (Matthew 23-25; John 1:45 & 6:14-15; Acts 3:18-27 & 7:37 & 52). It is therefore good and proper to look at some of the prophecies which Jesus gave. And after having established his credentials as a Prophet, we should then carefully consider all of his teachings and commands.

In the Bible, specifically in the Old Testament law, the principle was that a true Prophet would be known by prophesying something that would happen soon. This way people would know that his words were true. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) Notably, under the Law the penalty for a false prophet was death. But, the death penalty for a false prophet would be meaningless, if by the time people figured out that a particular prophet was false, he had already died of old age!

In order to study Jesus as a Prophet, we can start by listing things that Jesus said or indicated which came true within a few minutes or hours. Then we can move on to listing some more long-term prophecies.

Very short term prophecies of things to happen within a few minutes or hours

Most of these are preparatory to miracles. In many cases the prophecy is implied by Jesus, that he was going to do a miracle which would change the situation.

These prophecies are noted:

- Jairus’s daughter to be raised from dead that day (Mark 5:21);

- The Centurion’s servant to be healed shortly (Matthew 8:5);

- Blind Bartimaeus was seen by Jesus who said, "Bring him," indicating he would be healed quickly and Jesus immediately healed his eyes (Mark 10:46-52);

- Jesus said that a particular blind man had not sinned at birth, but he was born blind so that the glory of God would be revealed and then Jesus revealed the glory of God immediately by healing him (John 9:1-7);

- Jesus, while walking ON the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee, talked to his disciples in their boat. He calmed them saying, "Do not be afraid" because things would be alright and the waters became calm (John 6:17-20);

- Jesus called Peter to come walk on water and Peter walked on the water as long as he was looking to Jesus (Matthew 14:27-29);

- Jesus said it was easy to say, "You are healed", and then he healed the man (Matthew 9:5-6);

- Jesus caused people to anticipate being fed, and then he prepared to feed them by miracles – feeding 4000+ and 5000 hungry people in two different events (Matthew 14:13-21 & 15:32-38);

- Jesus said to the mother of a dead son, "Do not cry...", indicating that her son would be raised from the dead, and the son was immediately raised back to life (Luke 7:11-18);

- In order to catch fish Jesus told the men to put their net on the other side of their boat and so they caught many fish (John 21:6);

- Jesus told Peter to go catch a fish with the correct coin in its mouth to pay a tax for both Jesus and Peter. This happened immediately (Matthew 17:27);

- Jesus told a mother that the demon left her daughter and this happened (Mark 7:24-30);

- Jesus told two of his disciples, "... you will find a donkey..." in Jerusalem and the owner would let them take it, and this happened (Matthew 21:2);

- Jesus told ten men with leprosy to go show themselves to the priests, which they should only do if they were healed, but as they walked to the priests they were healed (Luke 17:11-19).

- The unproductive fig tree was cursed and died quickly (Matthew 11:18-22 & Mark 11:12-21);

- Jesus foretold that Peter would deny knowing Jesus, but Peter rejected that statement. However, a few hours later Peter three times denied knowing Jesus (Matthew 26:30).

Prophecies to come true in a few days or weeks:

- Lazarus to be raised from the dead because it was just as if he had "fallen to sleep" and Jesus raised him back to life (John 11:1-14);

- Jesus told his disciples that he would be dead for three days and then be raised from the dead (Matthew 16:21; 20:18-19; cf. 12:39-40);

- Jesus prophesied that another Helper (or Comforter) would be sent and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, was sent about ten days after Jesus ascended up into Heaven (John 14:16-17);

- Jesus prophesied to his disciples, "... you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." They were baptized about ten days after he ascended up into Heaven (Acts 1:5);

- Jesus prophesied that "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest parts of the earth." They received power of the Holy Spirit after those same ten days and they increasingly traveled as witnesses to what Jesus had taught and done (Acts 1:8).

- Jesus prophesied that the disciples should remain in the City of Jerusalem and then there would be power from the Father on high that would come upon them to do all that Jesus had commanded them (Luke 24:49) and this happened about ten days after Jesus ascended to Heaven. The disciples did not have to wait hundreds of years, not travel long distances to receive the gift of this power.

Prophecies to come true in months or a year or two

- Jesus would be rejected by religious leaders, suffer many things, and be put into hands of men and be killed and the third day rise (Mark 9:31). These things all happened.

Prophecies to come true within the Lifetime of Some of his Listeners:

- "You will be fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and his ascension into Heaven, his followers went out seeking to bring people to become his followers.

- Jesus said about the Jerusalem Temple ("your house") is left spiritually desolate (Mattthew 23:37-39). Jesus, the Messiah, and his followers would not be allowed to teach in the Temple. The sacrifices of animals which God had commanded to be offered for sins would be stopped by the Romans in 70 A.D. The sacred office of the High Priest had already been “bought” with money from the Roman government.

- Jesus prophesied that the actual Jerusalem Temple would be destroyed and not one of the stones of the building would be left on top of another. That happened about 40 years later in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the Temple. (Matthew 24:2);

- Affliction was coming to the unrepentant sinning people of the cities of Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Korazin because they rejected Jesus and his miracles. The cities were diminished and the people were afflicted by the Romans and these three cities were abandoned (Matthew 11:20-24):

- Jesus prophesied that his church would grow rapidly and become large similar to the rapid growth of the mustard plant (Matthew 13:30);

- Jesus prophesied that sadness (“woe”) would come on the people of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple (“House”) and the religious leaders (Matthew 23 and 24:1-2) and these things happened by 70 A.D. at the hand of the Romans.

Prophecies for the then distant Future

- Jesus told of many future events which involve many nations, wars, terror and false prophets, which can be frightening. He told of judgments coming on wicked people. He prophesied about “The End of The Age.” Wars, Famines, “The Sign of His Coming” as he returns publicly similar to the way that lightening travels quickly and brilliantly displayed from East to West (Matthew from chapter 24:3 on thru chapter 25). Jesus prophesied about the Kingdom of Heaven; about Ten Virgins and The Oil; Misbehavior of Servants when their Master was out of Town; and The Future Judgment Day.