When I was writing The Gospel According to Shakespeare: The Passion (ISBN: 978-1-931608-30-5), a Passion-play in Shakespearean verse, I was drawn to the story of two disciples meeting Jesus Christ on the road to Emmaus. I gave Jesus a short soliloquy illustrating the Messianic prophecies only Jesus could have fulfilled to Cleopas and his traveling companion. When writing this book, I desired a Gospel in the Next Testament, but did not want to rehash the synoptic Gospels, nor write something that could be accused of being a half-baked Gnostic Gospel take-off. Again, I was drawn to the story of Cleopas and his companion encountering Jesus while on the road to Emmaus.
Could a Gospel narrative telling the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth be told almost exclusively through Old Testament Messianic prophecies? After finding many a list of the 300+ Messianic prophecies on the internet, I began inputting the verses into Biblegateway.com to see where (if at all) each prophecy could possibly fit into Cleopas’ Gospel narrative. I was delighted (and secretly horrified) by the sheer volume of prophecies that could be folded so simply into a Gospel narrative of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
As a life-long skeptic (as well as a eternal Catholic Apologist), I was horrified that Evangelical Christians could be right about the “astronomical odds” of only Jesus being the Christ. The skeptic in me asked, What if Jesus was a fictional creation of the early Church? Then the odds of His fulfilling any Messianic prophecies would be even! His story could have easily been tailored specifically to fulfill all 300+ prophecies. Only after looking up each prophecy on a Bible site, then piecing them together to form the Gospel of Cleopas, have I come to the conclusion that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah prophesied by the Old Testament prophets. The Gospel of Cleopas is so spiritually eloquent and beautifully concise. The words of the Old Testament prophets have come to life in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Gospel of Cleopas is such a fitting beginning to a book, which through Vaticinium adimpletionem ex eventu, proves, in the words of Thomas Newton, “Our blessed Saviour, as he was the great subject of prophecy, so was an illustrious prophet himself.” By showing that Jesus fulfills prophecy, I can then, through the use of Preterist Theology, prove that Jesus’ own prophecies were fulfilled in the events of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
I challenge all other skeptics, whether you are an Atheist, a non-Messianic Jew, or are otherwise skeptical about Jesus being the prophesied Messiah, read the Gospel of Cleopas and tell me Who it reminds them of.