Four hundred years after the last book of the OT was penned, an angel appeared to a priest named Zechariah while he was burning incense in the temple. The angel announced that Zechariah’s elderly wife would give birth to a son who would, “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” prepare the way for the Lord (Luke 1:8-17).
Six months later the angel Gabriel visited a virgin pledged to be married to Joseph, a descendent of David. She, as a virgin, would conceive a son who would be the promised David king. “He will reign over the house of Jacob, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:26-33). Mary responded to this great news by singing a hymn reminiscent of the one sung by Hannah so long ago (Luke 1:46-55; 1 Samuel 2:1-10).
Matthew, who opened his gospel by explicitly identifying Jesus as “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1), recorded the announcement to Joseph. An angel told Joseph this Son was to be named Jesus, “Yahweh saves,” because he would accomplish the great problem facing mankind from Genesis 3 throughout the rest of Scripture. He would solve the problem that no priest or king or prophet had even been able to solve. He would “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
Furthermore, he is named “Yahweh saves” because he is Yahweh. The angel quotes Isaiah 7:14 to substantiate the claim that Jesus was “God with us.” Remember, Isaiah is the prophet who most clearly connects Yahweh ruling from Zion with the ruling Davidic king. These royal announcements framed Jesus birth, even though he did not begin life on earth in any particularly royal way. He was born in a stable and into an artisan’s family.
During his ministry Jesus identified himself as the Son of Man. For those with ears to hear, this was a royal declaration. His message was the message of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).
Much of his earthly ministry was preaching. Indeed, that was one reason Jesus came (Mark 1:38). The people recognized that he was a prophet (Matt 21:46; Mark 6:15; 8:28; Luke 7:16, 39; Luke 9:8, 19; John 4:19; 9:17). Jesus also identified himself as a prophet (Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24; 13:33). This was no insignificant identification. The people of Israel were expecting the Prophet like Moses (John 1:25; see Carson, John, PNTC, 143). In a few cases people identified Jesus with that Prophet (John 6:14; 7:40). It is worth noting that record of people ascribing the office of the Prophet to Jesus occurs in John, the gospel that testifies that Jesus is the Word. [For a convincing demonstration that Jesus is presented as the Word throughout John’s gospel see Robert H. Gundry, Jesus the Word according to John the Sectarian, 4-50.]
After Peter’s confession that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, Jesus began to prophesy his own death (Mark 8:31-38; 9:9, 30-32; 10:32-34). He used sacrificial terminology to describe his death (Matt. 20:28; 10:45). The Gospels climax with the record of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.
In Jesus all the Old Testament hopes for a Messiah—a prophet, priest, and king to set the world right—are realized. The excitement at the arrival of such a person is most evident in the opening chapters of Luke. The significance of Jesus’ life death, and resurrection is explained in the epistles.
Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John, Pillar New Testament Commentary. Edited by D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.
Gundry, Robert H. Jesus the Word according to John the Sectarian: A Paleofundamentalist Manifesto for Contemporary Evangelicalism, especially its Elites, in North America. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.