Preview of Coming Attractions Week 1

I enjoy previews almost as much as I enjoy movies themselves. Sometimes the 60 second spot is all you need anyway! I love the way a preview sets you up for what is to come, giving you just enough, just not much more. When I worked at a movie theatre in college, our guys working projectors would fight to put together not the movie but previews (especially leading up to summer) because you could see what was coming up. Peeking at presents is one thing, peeking at preview is entirely different.

But this is what we're talking about when we speak of Previews of Coming Attractions. The prophecies around Jesus' coming were giving a peak as to who Jesus would be like, what his life would be like and what his purpose would be. More than that, these prophecies would confirm Jesus would be who God said he would be – not what we might think we need.

Prophecies like previews share pieces of the whole. One preview alone may not contain all that is necessary, however the second and third add pieces to show a slightly larger picture but alas, it is not the feature film.

Prophecy is more than fulfilled fantasy. It reminds us that God keeps his promises. Maybe not as we think they ought to be. Maybe not when we think they should come. Maybe not even in the form they are shown. And as I observe it, it seems to me, it when the prophecy becomes thought of as impossibility – God moves.

In the recent release of Alice In Wonderland, there is phrase that becomes a theme through the movie. It is a phrase in the original work of Lewis Carroll. It is the idea of practicing the impossible. Alice says, “I regularly believe as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast!” And here we are – what is more impossible than this – God became human but as if that wasn't enough, this God-man would take impossible even farther to make a point – the previews can't touch the premiere attraction.

As we look at the previews, we can see the words of Matthew are not insignificant words at all. It is very important for this truth to be heard and understood. These disciples of Jesus, these writers were Jews. The prophets were their own flesh and blood. These prophets came from their story. For us, and today the world, Christianity is thought of as a separate religion BUT not to them. No, Jesus was no starter of a new religion – he is the living fulfillment of the prophecies of the old.

Just how many prophecies regarding the Messiah are there in the Old Testament? The number ranges from 100 – 300. Mainly, scholarly work and mis-understandings regarding what is and what isn't prophetic play into the discrepancy. It isn't done like Nostradamus or by examining stars. Biblical prophecies cross the lines of centuries, authors and writing styles.

Josh McDowell in his book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, pointed out the importance of prophecy. Like wise, Lee Strobel, did much the same in his research for The Case For Christ. In searching out the prophecies, Strobel interviewed Rev. Louis Lapides.

Today, Lapides is a Christian pastor but he was Jewish by both heritage and faith growing up. In the interview he talks of his search for truth reading Deuteronomy 18:15-18 noting the words that indicate there would be a prophet greater than Moses. To Jews, there is no prophet greater than Moses, so what could that mean? He later came across the words of the prophet Isaiah chapter 53, a chapter that describes the suffering of the Messiah (a passage worth reading as we get closer to Easter). These words written 800 years before Jesus made him stop “cold.”
Both McDowell and Stroebel refer to the work of mathmatician Peter Stoner. It was Stoner who noted that the probability of any man who has lived fulfilling just eight prophecies regarding the Messiah has been calculated as 1 in 10 to 17th power (100,000,000,000,000,000)!

Dr. Stoner suggested “...we take that many silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one.”

His being born of a virgin Isa 7:14 Mt 1:22,23 Lu 2:7
His being called Immanuel Isa 7:14 Mt 1:22,23
His being born in Bethlehem of Judea Mic 5:2 Mt 2:1 Lu 2:4-6
His meekness and want of ostentatious Isa 42:2 Mt 12:15,16,19
His being rejected by the Jewish rulers Ps 118:22 Mt 21:42 Joh 7:48
His disciples forsaking him Zec 13:7 Mt 26:31,56
His being sold for thirty pieces silver Zec 11:12 Mt 26:15
His price being given for the potter's field Zec 11:13 Mt 27:7
His sufferings being for others Isa 53:4-6,12 Da 9:26 Mt 20:28
His being buried with the rich Isa 53:9 Mt 27:57-60
His resurrection Ps 16:10 Isa 26:19 Lu 24:6,31,34

The truth of the previews is only determined in light of the actual attraction. Likewise, until you meet Jesus, till you know Him, till you see Him by faith, you're just looking at previews – nothing that quite gets fulfilled. I've seen previews that didn't quite convey the real movie. I've been in churches that have done the same with Jesus, heard people talk about someone that sounded a lot like Jesus but not the Jesus I had seen.

The question for us today, is are we tired of previews and do you know people spending their time on previews? Jesus comes here every Sunday but he doesn't stay here you know? Nope, the real attraction is more like NetFlix online than a Blockbuster store, you can get him 24-7 or once a week. I believe in Jesus, not because of the previews of Moses, Isaiah, Zechariah or John the Baptist, I believe today, in the hard times because I've seen the real thing and there is nothing in Hollywood that comes close.


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