Continuing our examination of the five prophecies that the Watchtower claims found fulfillment in Jesus.
In part 3 we examined the “garments” claim. We found that this was not a messianic prophecy (or any kind of prophecy for that matter.) It was part of the lyrics to a song about David: a blues song. Poetic in nature, and not to be taken literally (unless you’re into pet unicorns.) We also saw how other verses of that song pleaded for help, while another Psalm assured us that the righteous plea for help would never go unanswered. Yet, Jesus’ cry for help went unanswered. Go figure!
All of which brings us up to number:
“He is guarding all his bones; not one of them has been broken.”
— Psalm 34:20
“On coming to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs.”
— John 19:33
So, here’s some more song lyrics mistaken for prophecy. This is another song about David, and once again I encourage you to read the entire lyrics at Psalm 34. According to the superscription, the topic of the song is the time “when [David] disguised his sanity before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.” [Though this is another biblical error; it was King Achish not Abimelech according to the provided cross-reference: 1 Sam. 21:10-15.]
This song depicts David praising his god for protecting him when he was in danger of being recognized and held accountable for his war crimes (because Achish’s men had heard another song in which it was declared that David had killed tens of thousands of people!) David hid his real identity by feigning madness (principally by drooling on himself and doodling), and so managed to escape with ‘no bones broken.’
[Ironically, this song declares that god will protect the “righteous.” David may have been self-righteous, but he certainly wasn’t a moral individual.]
So, what does any of this have to do with Jesus not having his legs broken once he had been tortured to death? Nothing. If someone standing next to the
cross torture-stake had begun singing this song about how Jehovah protects the righteous from harm, I think the singer would’ve gotten some very dirty looks from Jesus’ family and friends for engaging in such cruel sarcasm.
“He was pierced for our transgression.”
— Isaiah 53:5
“One of the soldiers jabbed his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”
Lots of folks are pieced these days and, I suspect, even in those days: ears, noses, navels, nipples, eyebrows, even tongues! But who is the “he” being pierced in the book of Isaiah? It is the personified nation of Israel. You’d have to read all the way back to Isaiah 52 to see this context. Notice how this verse is in the past tense; it was describing something that had already happened rather than prophesying a future event. So the piercing of this symbolic Israel was also, of necessity, symbolic.
The book of Isaiah also states the following about this personified Israel:
“No stately form does he have, nor any splendor; And when we see him, his appearance does not draw us to him. He was despised and was avoided by men, A man who was meant for pains and was familiar with sickness. It was as if his face were hidden from us. He was despised, and we held him as of no account.”
(Isaiah 53:2-3 NWT)
Was this true of Jesus? Not according to the Gospels. There we are told that he was charismatic: people were drawn to him. Being a “perfect” man (Heb 5:9) it’s hard to imagine him matching Isaiah’s description of his having been sickly. Far from being held of no account, people worshiped him (or “did obeisance” if they were loyal Jehovah’s Witnesses.) (Mt. 21:9; 14:33-36) At one point his splendor caused him to appear to “glow”–and he hadn’t even had too much wine at the time! (Mt. 17:2) And, just as with Elvis or the Beatles, people practically swooned just to touch the hem of his garment as he walked by. (Mt. 14:35-36)
Nailing just one out of half a dozen or more attributes of the personified Israel is not a very good score (16% at best: turn in a paper with such a score and you’re going to get a grade of ‘F’ for Fail.) So, if we look at the context and consider the misses as well as the one hit, we have to conclude that Isaiah was not making any kind of prophecy that Jesus fulfilled here.