What Does the Ides of March Have in Common with the Christ of Easter?
The Ides of March is traditionally March 15. Also, on this day, two men named Cassius and Brutus betrayed and assassinated Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Not only was his assassination carried out by betrayers, it was also foretold by a soothsayer in Act 1, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s play.
Act I, Scene 2: A public place.
Caesar. Ha! who calls?
Soothsayer. Beware the ides of March.
Caesar. What man is that?
Brutus. A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Caesar. Set him before me; let me see his face.
Cassius. Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
Caesar. What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.
Soothsayer. Beware the ides of March.
Caesar. He is a dreamer; let us leave him:
While Julius Caesar’s death was in fact carried out by two men who betrayed him, the Fictional prophecy of the soothsayer was added by Shakespeare to create a dramatic effect to make Julius Caesar seem more Christ-like because the Ides of March, or March 15, is always near Easter on the calendar. The Roman Republic never recovered from the death of Julius Caesar and civil war soon broke out. The result of the civil war was that the Republic form of leadership was replaced with what was called the Principate form of government, which means “supreme power or office.”
However, the true prophecies of Christ were written by many people over many years in many different locations. The truths of those prophecies had real, dramatic and eternal effects on mankind. When we look at God’s story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, we see many prophecies of Jesus’ betrayal, beatings, trials and crucifixion that were originally given hundreds of years before Christ was born.
Here are just a few of those prophecies from the Psalms, Zechariah and Isaiah:
1) Jesus would be betrayed by a friend for 30 Pieces of Silver:
Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
Zechariah 11:12-13, 12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”-the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.
King David wrote about Jesus being betrayed by a friend who he had shared bread with,
a friend who would ultimately betray Christ. The fulfillment of that prophecy can be found in Matthew 26:47-50. Five hundred years before Christ was betrayed by Judas, Zechariah the prophet identified the actual amount that would be paid to the betraying friend—30 pieces of silver. The fulfillment of that prophecy can be found in Matthew 27:5-7. Judas later tosses the money back into the Temple out of remorse and regret but his lot had already been caste.
2) Jesus would be spat upon, beaten, die for our sins, be silent before his accusers and be buried in a borrowed tomb. Isaiah 50:6, I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
Isaiah 53:4-9, Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
Seven hundred years before Christ was born, Isaiah stated that Jesus would offer his back to those who beat him, his face to those who would tear out his beard, and be mocked by those who would taunt him. That fulfillment is found in Matthew 26:67. Isaiah also stated that Jesus would be punished for the sins of others and that by his wounds we would be healed. That truth is found throughout the gospels as well as in 1 Peter 2:21-25. Isaiah also wrote that Jesus would be afflicted and accused but would remain silent like a lamb that is led to the slaughter. That fulfillment can be found in Matthew 27:12-14. Finally, Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would even be buried in a borrowed tomb. The fulfillment of that prophecy can be found in Matthew 27:57-61.
3) Jesus Would Be Crucified on a Cross.
Zechariah 12:10, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.
Psalm 22:1, 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?… 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 8 “He trusts in the LORD ; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” … 16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
Some 500 years before Christ, Zechariah the prophet wrote that there would be mourning in Jerusalem over one that was “pierced” or “crucified.” He further pointed out that that one who was to be crucified was a one and only firstborn Son. That prophecy was fulfilled in the words found in both John (John 3:16; 19:16-22). A thousand years before the birth of Christ, the Psalmist wrote of the crucifixion of Jesus which was fulfilled in the New Testament (Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34). The Psalmist was even more specific about the details of the crucifixion:
a) Jesus would be surrounded, scorned and despised by others (Matthew 27:39; Mark 15:29).
b) Jesus would be mocked and taunted (Matthew 27:31; Mark 15:30; Luke 22:63; 23:36).
c) Jesus would be numbered with the transgressors even though he was innocent (Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:32; John 19:18).
d) Jesus would have his hands and feet pierced (John 19:23, 34, 37).
e) Jesus would have his garments gambled for (Matthew 27:35).
As we reflect on the Ides of March, let us remember that the fictional prophecy of Caesar’s death was only for dramatic effect; whereas, the dramatic prophecies of Christ’s death had eternal effects. As much as Shakespeare would like to make Julius Caesar as a Christ-like martyr, we must be reminded that the Roman Empire received no benefit from the death of Caesar. However, Christ’s death still positively impacts the world daily.
So today, on the Ides of March, remember those words of Isaiah the Prophet which say, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him”(Isaiah 53:6). What better day than this Ides of March to place your faith in Christ. What a dramatic effect that would be!
Have a Blessed Ides of March or March 15!
John Mark Caton, Ph.D