Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel
Robert Merton, a 20th century sociologist, is credited as coining the expression “self-fulfilling prophecy” which is “in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true”. In other words, it is a false prediction that causes itself to become true because you believe it will come true.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a term often used in athletics. I read the story of Georgia gymnast, Heather Stepp, who in 1991 seriously injured her elbow in a gymnastics event when she over-rotated on a front handspring off of a vaulting horse. The medical team said her injury “was a mess – typically career ending.” The medical team and coaches’ concerns were no longer gymnastics, they were for Stepp to have a usable arm. She was told that she had a 5% chance of getting her arm straight again, let alone regaining the hyperextension required for gymnastics.
When her coach met her in the hospital before the required surgery, with tears in her eyes, Stepp told her “I came to Georgia to be on a National Championship team, and I’m not leaving without being on one!”. Despite what all the doctors were saying, Stepp made it her mission to regain all of her gymnastics and more. And she did, in her senior year she won both the vaulting and floor exercises in individual championships, but more importantly she inspired her entire team to believe they were invincible. They became the first team in the history of college gymnastics to go undefeated throughout the season, winning the National Championship in 1993.
While this story is incredibly inspiring and a testament to the power of the mind, there is a more inspiring story of a “true prophecy” that was fulfilled. In fact, when Jesus was born, he became the fulfillment of more than 40 Old Testament prophecies. The prophecies, written by various authors, were penned hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Some have argued that Jesus was nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy, that is a man set up to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. But when you take the time to research the prophecies you realize that this would be a difficult, arguably impossible task.
To name a few of the prophecies, it was foretold that he would be: born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14); from the line of Abraham, descendent of Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and King David’s throne (Isaiah 16:5); spend time in Egypt (Hosea 11:1), Mary and Joseph fled to there because King Herod was killing infant sons; be preceded by a prophet (Isaiah 40: 3-5), John the Baptist; speak in parables (Psalm 78:2). Furthermore, his followers would flee (Zechariah 13:7); he would be unfairly accused (Isaiah 53:7b); he would be pierced in his side by soldiers (Psalm 22:16); he’d be crucified with criminals (Isaiah 53:12), long before this method of execution was ever practiced; he would be resurrected from the dead (Psalm 16:10); he’d ascend to Heaven (Psalm 68:18); and he would be a sacrifice for sins (Isaiah 53:10).
Jesus Christ is the Messiah and He is the fulfillment of real prophetic words and he is the true and only hope we have for peace in this broken world.