18. Foreshadows

A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …

Any writer of fiction knows that weaving “foreshadows” into a story makes it stronger and more believable, especially when it comes time to reveal the ending. The “Jesus story” takes full advantage of that technique. The difference is that it is NOT fiction.

The obvious FORESHADOWS are in the form of ANCIENT PROPHECIES that have found fulfillment in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Less obvious FORESHADOWS are concealed within the ACTIONS and WORDS of JESUS during the three years of his ministry. Since we have the advantage of hindsight — unlike His those disciples who knew Him personally — we can recognize many of the “clues” that the Lord God saw fit to give us in advance of important events. . . . 

1. JESUS WAS DESIGNATED “THE LAMB OF GOD”:  Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was the first to recognize and declare that Jesus IS “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). As He hung on the cross from 9 am to 3 pm, the Passover lambs were bound and waiting to be slaughtered to remove the past sins of the Jewish people.

2. JESUS WAS TEMPTED BY SATAN AND PREVAILED: Satan’s goal is to derail God’s plan to save individuals from spending eternity with him (Satan). The devil tried many different ways to make that happen (see Luke 4), including tempting the Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses to arrest and kill the Son of God. But Satan didn’t “get it” — that Jesus’ death would result in eternal life with God for all those who believe in Him . God’s plan ended as he had ordained it “from the creation of the world” (John 17:24-26).

3. JESUS TAUGHT ABOUT THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF ACHIEVING PERFECTION: Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But His teachings often seemed impossible to accomplish! Like measuring sticks, His words were meant to show people how very small we are and how BIG God is! Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and following resurrection, it is impossible to be like God! (See Hebrews 2.)

4. JESUS RAISED SELECTED PEOPLE FROM A STATE OF DEATH: Jesus demonstrated that He IS God by raising numerous people from the dead. Most notable was a man named Lazarus. Lazarus had died and been in his tomb for four days when Jesus arrived and said, “Lazarus come out!” And Lazarus did, foreshadowing the fact that Jesus’ resurrection would be accomplished by God, just like that of Lazarus! (See the details in John 11:1-44.)

5. JESUS FORETOLD DETAILS CONCERNING HIS OWN DEATH AND RESURRECTION: THREE TIMES, Jesus told His disciples that He would be arrested and crucified and on the THIRD DAY He would rise. (Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:18-19) … And that’s exactly what happened!

6. JESUS GAVE A TIMELINE OF END TIMES EVENTS: In Matthew 24, Jesus gave an outline of what would happen in the future at the time of His second coming. In Revelation 6, Jesus also gave corroborating details to His best friend John that parallel what He said in Matthew 24!

7. JESUS PREDICTED HIS DISCIPLES’ BETRAYAL: Jesus said to those closest to Him: “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered’ [foretold by Zechariah 13:7]” (Mark 14:27). When Jesus was arrested, all of His followers ran away. Only John returned and followed Jesus complete journey  to the cross!

Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him. He knew how brutally painful death by crucifixion would be. In His humanity, He pleaded with His heavenly Father to take away “the cup” that would be His to drink — in other words, the horror of the torment His human body was about to suffer. But then He said: “Yet not what I will, but what you will”  (Mark 14:36).


SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Jesus “foreshadowed” that “the gate is broad and the road is wide that leads to destruction, BUT small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

He believed in a literal hell: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, NIV)

Do you believe it?