The Hebrew Scriptures—that is, the Old Testament—included many prophecies about the coming Messiah. A few of them probably left Israelite scholars and laymen alike scratching their heads and wondering how one individual could fulfill such lofty promises. The birth of such a person would be “good news of great joy,” just as the angel proclaimed (Luke 2:10). The Messiah would be . . .
• A descendant of Abraham seated on David’s throne. There is a reason that both Matthew and Luke painstakingly trace Jesus’ genealogy (Matt. 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38): the Messiah’s family line mattered. God promised that all nations would be blessed through the house of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), and Isaiah prophesied that Christ would reign forever on David’s throne (Isa. 9:7). The gospel writers showed that Jesus could claim direct lineage from both of these men.
• A man born in Bethlehem who comes out of Egypt. The Messiah’s place of origin must have caused confusion. Though His predicted birthplace was Bethlehem, He was expected to come out of Egypt (Mic. 5:2; Hos. 11:1). We know that a census brought Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to tiny, insignificant Bethlehem just in time for the Christ child’s arrival. And Matthew’s gospel explains the rest of the mystery: the family fled to Egypt to avoid Herod’s jealous rage (Matt. 2:13).
God was specific in describing the Messiah because He wanted people to recognize the Anointed One and rejoice in His coming. That’s exactly what happened when the King of Kings rode a donkey into Jerusalem (prophecy: Zech. 9:9; completion: John 12:12-15). Jesus is the promised Christ—this truly is great news and reason to rejoice.