In part 3 of this series, we met a prophet named John the Baptist in the book of the Bible titled John (though the “John” in that title was a different John!) In John 1:25, the people question John the Baptist about his ministry. They wanted to out him as the Messiah (the savior king that God promised to send to Israel), or the reincarnation of one of Israel’s most famous prophets, Elijah, or the fulfillment of the promise in Deuteronomy 18, THE prophet who was to come. John responds with a resounding “No!” to all these questions. The people are mystified. If he is not any of those, why is John the Baptist having a ministry of calling people to repentance through baptism? His ministry model seems like something that one of those promised leaders would do! John tells the people that he has a specific role, that he is preparing the way for THE prophet.
As the passage continues, we read that John saw Jesus the next day and proclaimed that Jesus was the one he was preparing the nation for. Some of John’s disciples, then, start following Jesus. Soon more disciples start following Jesus, and one of them, Philip, says in verse 45, to another guy, Nathanael, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law.” By saying this, Philip is making a reference to the Prophet Moses referred to in Deuteronomy 18.
But the references don’t stop there. In John 5:46 we read Jesus saying the same thing, that the person Moses wrote about in the law was Jesus himself!
In John 6:14, after Jesus’ miraculous feeding of 5000 people with only five small barley loaves and two small fish, the people say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
In John 7:40 after a powerful teaching by Jesus, some people in the crowd said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said “he is the Christ.”
A few years later, after Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection and ascension back to his father, after the church had first started, we read in Acts 3 that Peter and John healed a man, and Peter started preaching to the crowd. In verses 22-26 he quotes Deuteronomy 18, where Moses talks about the prophet to come, and Peter says that Jesus was that prophet!
A few more years went by, and the church had grown like crazy in Jerusalem, and the Jewish religious leaders were not happy, feeling threatened by popularity of the Christians. So they started persecuting the church, and one of the first men they attacked was a guy named Stephen. In Acts 7, Stephen is standing trial before the high priest, and Stephen tells the story of the nation of Israel, eventually concluding that Jesus was the Messiah, the promised one. In verse 37 he refers the Old Testament teaching of that promised one, and guess who he quotes? Moses, in Deuteronomy 18, where Moses says,“God will send you a prophet like me.”
What all this means is that the earliest Christians, and Jesus himself, said that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18, the promise of a prophet who would come.
So if Jesus was THE Prophet, what does that matter to us? As Moses said in Deuteronomy 18, we need to listen to the prophet. Check back in to part 5 of this series, as we will specifically apply this teaching to our lives!