Was the event of Jesus being nailed on a cross fulfilling ancient prophecy? In other words, could the Romans have killed Jesus in another way or did it have to be done on a tree (cross) to fulfilled ancient prophecy?
The scriptures do not specifically state in so many words that Jesus had to be nailed to a cross or tree. But the prophecy in Psalm 22:16-17 strongly suggests that the cross was required as it was the only method the Romans used to put people to death that would have resulted in the prophecy’s fulfillment.
Most of the Psalm is a description of the events of Jesus’ death on the cross.
For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
Psalm 22:16-18 (NASB)
In verse 16 we are told that Christ’s hands and feet were pierced, but we are not told how. The fulfillment of the prophecy in Psalm 22:18 is recorded in Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33 and John 19:18 where we are told that Christ was crucified.
Zechariah 12:10 also refers to Christ being pierced, but we are not explicitly told if He was pierced in the side, feet or hands.
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10 (NASB)
The Hebrew word for pierced is daqar. The verb means “to pierce through.” Important examples of this word in the Old Testament can be found in Judges 9:54; 1 Samuel 31:4; 1 Chronicles 10:4; Isaiah 13:15 and Zechariah 13:3. In each of these examples, the NASB translates daqar as pierced through. Since the word says that something went through His body, this would suggest His hands and feet were pierced. Jesus died a cruel death for you and me!
It is John 20:25 that tells us Jesus hands and feet had been nailed to the cross and His side was pierced with a sword. This occurred when Thomas wanted to put his finger into the holes was proof that Jesus was resurrected.
So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25 (NASB)
Yes, Jesus fulfilled ancient prophecy when He died on the cross. You might be interested in a series of prophecies about Jesus Christ. We would encourage you to visit the “Prophecies of Jesus.” Here you can read more of how Psalm 22 is fulfilled prophecy about His death.
Suggested Links:Peace With God
Prophecies of Jesus
Are there any historical facts about the cross?
Why did God let His son suffer and die?
When Jesus was on the cross he said, “Father, why have you forsaken Me?”