The challenge of Christ is inescapable.  One outstanding fact, among many, completely isolates Him.  It is this:- that one Man only in the history of the world has had explicit details given beforehand of his birth, life and death; that these details are in public documents given to the public centuries before he appeared, and that no one challenges, can challenge, that these documents were widely circulated long before his birth; and that anyone and everyone can compare for himself the actual records of his life with those old documents, and find that they match one another to a n icety.  The challenge of this pure miracle is that it has happened concerning one Man only in the whole history of the world.


But let us pause for a moment to see how a divine document can become an accomplished fact.  Dr. Cyrus Hamlin once in Constantinople, at the close of the Crimean War, met a Colonel in the Turkish Army who called on him.  “I have come to ask you a question,” said the Colonel; “what proof can you give me that the Bible is the Word of God Dr. Hamlin purposely avoided the question; but in the course of the conversation, he asked the Turk,- “Were you ever in Babylon “Yes,” he answered; “I am very fond of sport, and I once spent a week shooting among the ruins.  But the curious thing was this.  The Arabs, whom I had engaged, absolutely refused to spend a night among the ruins.  No money, no threat, no argument, would persuade them. The sheik said:- ‘No mortal flesh dare stay in those ruins.  Ghosts and ghouls swarm out of the holes and caverns at night; and no Arab has ever seen the sun go down in Babylon  I had to give up all hope of sport amid the ruins at night  The moment the Colonel had ended, Dr. Hamlin opened the thirteenth of Isaiah, and read to him these words:- “Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.  It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and wolves shall cry in their castles, and jackals in the pleasant palaces” (Isa. 13: 19).  The Colonel listened, and then said:- “That’s it exactly; but you have been reading history “No, I have not,” answered the doctor; “I have been reading words written five hundred years before Christ, when Babylon was in all her glory.  The Bible is the Word of God


Now we take up one of the old documents.  The Prophet Isaiah writes this:- “The Lord himself shall give you a sign: A VIRGIN SHALL CONCEIVE, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7: 14). Now see the words that God’s Angel spoke to the Virgin Mary:- “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that which is to be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1: 35); and the Apostle Matthew (1: 22) adds,- “All this came to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child.”  The Lord will grant a ‘sign’ - that is, a miracle: the miracle shall be conception by a virgin: the birth shall be the birth of God - Immanuel, ‘God with us There is the document in Isaiah, a book in every Jew’s hands long centuries before Jesus was born.


But we look again.  Where was this to take place?  Nothing is more dangerous to false prophecy than the fastening down of an event to a date or a place.  Here is another document:- “Thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, out of thee shall come forth one whose goings forth are from everlasting” (Mic. 5: 2).  Now what did the Rabbis say?  “And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, Herod inquired of them where the Christ should be born.  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written,” and then they quote Micah.  Now look again.  Herod “sent them to Bethlehem; and lo, the star went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matt. 2: 9).  And who was the child?  “And it came to pass, while they were there [in Bethlehem], she brought forth her firstborn son” (Luke 2: 7), “and called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1: 25).  The documents exactly fit.  The Lord shall give a miracle; it shall be a virgin conception; the birth shall be in Bethlehem Ephrathah; and the child’s name shall be Immanuel, Jehovah-Jesus.


We turn now to another old document.  It is another fragment of Isaiah, and runs thus:- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isa. 61: 1).   Now the child Jesus had grown to man’s estate.  He is on the banks of the Jordan.  “And lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and [John] saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon [Jesus]” (Matt. 3: 16).  That was fulfilment number one - the anointing.  But look again.  Jesus stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth: He took the Book from the attendant, and read that passage in Isaiah; and then, amid a deadly hush, He said,- “To-day hath this Scripture been fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4: 21).  Now the fulfilment is extraordinarily convincing because of fact unforeseen.  Israel was expecting a Messiah that would be a Napoleon.  They were looking for Jehovah’s Spirit to fall on Messiah as it did upon Samson.  “They bound Samson with two new ropes; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the ropes became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands dropped from off his hands.  And he smote a thousand men” (Judges 15: 14). Such was the anointing Israel expected in Messiah.  All passages in the old documents that told of Messiah’s anointing to preach to the poor, to quench no smoking flax, to ride on the meek and lowly ass, to suffer and die, were put on one side.  Had Jesus been a false Messiah, would He have thus gone against all the prejudices of His race?  But it tallies with the old documents.  “Jesus of Nazareth,” Peter says, “whom God anointed with the Holy Ghost, went about doing good, and healing” (Acts 10: 38) - saving, not slaying; curing, not killing.


We turn to another ancient document.  It is one of David’s psalms; and it reveals someone - the someone who is Messiah - dying an awful death, under very peculiar circumstances.  This ancient document says:- “The assembly of evil-doers have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.  I may tell all my bones; they look and stare upon me” (Ps. 22: 16).  Now crucifixion in David’s time was unknown among the Jews: yet the piercing of hands and feet, together with the partial stripping – ‘telling all the bones’ - obviously means crucifixion: the crucified are pierced only in their hands and feet, and are stripped for exposure.  Would a false Messiah have chosen that passage for fulfilment?  But that old document goes into fuller, circumstantial details.  Immediately after the piercing and stripping, it says:- “They part my garments among them, and upon my vesture do they cast lots Now hear the Apostle John.  “The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus” - that is, after piercing His hands and His feet – “took his garments, and made four parts” – divided them into four portions – “to every soldier a part; and also the coat” - the tunic or vesture: “now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.  They said therefore one to another, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.  These things therefore the soldiers did” (John 19: 23), as foretold centuries before.  Nay, this old document holds the very crucifixion cry, for the psalm opens with it – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Ps. 22: 1).  So centuries later the Evangelist writes:- “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27: 46).  Not a jot or tittle of the psalm has miscarried: exactly as in the birth, and in the ministry, so also in the death - but more so - the ancient document is a photograph of the fact, fulfilled in flawless detail.


The last old document we select is once more from a psalm, and runs thus:-  “Thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;     neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One” - the Messiah – “to see corruption” (Psalm 16: 10).  Here, therefore, is a point supremely critical for the revelation of the Messiah: resurrection [out] from the dead - without the slightest touch of decay: “Neither will thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption” - is the stupendous miracle that is finally to reveal the Lord.  This is simply impossible to a false Messiah.  Now we turn to   the Gospel document.  “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and    came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the watchers did quake, and became as dead men.  And the angel answered, and said unto the women, Fear not ye; He is not here; for He is risen, even as He said” (Matt. 28: 2).  The fact is established with ample evidence.  “He appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then He appeared to above five hundred brethren at once; then He appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all He appeared me also” (1 Cor. 15: 5).  A scarred body, yet a germless body, leaving an empty tomb; living, eating, conversing, ascending; miraculously conceived, divinely anointed, crucified, incorrupt - the cycle is complete.


It is now possible to sum up with mathematical certainty.  In our hands are the ancient documents, written hundreds of years before Jesus was born.  They are publicly in everybody’s hands.  So are the facts of our Lord’s life recorded in the Gospels.  The two can be compared side by side.  The tallying of the Old documents with the new facts is provable by anyone at any time throughout all eternity.  Ours can only be the cry of Philip:-  “WE HAVE FOUND HIM OF WHOM THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS DID WRITE  “We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, CHRIST” (John 1: 41).