Last time, in Part 1 of Finding Jesus in the Old Testament, we talked about how Jesus lived and breathed the Old Testament and how we can grow in our understanding of Jesus by understanding the foundation upon which He relied. Not only was the Old Testament the foundation of Jesus’ ministry and teachings, but Jesus made clear that the Old Testament points directly to Him, which is the second reason why we should study the Old Testament.
Jesus States Old Testament Points to Him
On more than one occasion, Jesus clearly states that the Scriptures (Old Testament) point to Him. Let’s look at some examples.
Jesus was catching heat from the Jewish religious leaders because He healed someone on the Sabbath. Jesus defended himself, saying God was His Father, essentially “making himself equal with God” (John 5:18) and infuriating the leaders even more. He went on to say that the Word was not in them because, if it were, they would have recognized Him since the Scriptures point directly to Him (John 5:39). Finally, He said that they failed to realize that the purpose of the Scripture is not to give life but to point us to the One who gives eternal life, Himself.
Jesus continues to argue with the religious leaders, telling them that He doesn’t accuse them before the Father, but instead, Moses accuses them. He says, “If you really believed Moses, you would believe me because he wrote about me” (John 5:45-46). Jesus’ statement is big because He is saying that the books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, are enough to hold the reader accountable to know who He is. Yet, these religious leaders, who were the “experts” of the day on the Scriptures, could not see this truth through their preconceptions of what they thought Christ would look like.
Jesus Shows How Old Testament Points to Him
Jesus not only told His enemies that the Scripture pointed to Him, but He told His followers the same thing. On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, two disciples were walking along a road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), a village 7 miles from Jerusalem. The resurrected Jesus began to walk with them, “but they were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16). Notice that it is not that Jesus is unrecognizable; it is that their eyes were kept from seeing Him.
Jesus asked the two what they were talking about, and they told Him that they had put their faith in this Jesus of Nazareth but that He was crucified (Luke 24:20-21). His death confused them. They did not understand. They had believed, but now they were beginning to doubt. The Jewish people had a tough time believing that a Messiah who was to rule and reign would also be humiliated, suffer, and die. In their minds, it didn’t make sense. It didn’t fit their theology.
So how was Jesus going to get them from this place of doubt to a place of faith? With the Word, that is how. He would give them an accurate understanding of the Old Testament and how it pointed to Him.
Jesus, right there on the Road to Emmaus, had the first “Finding Jesus in the Old Testament Bible Study”! Oh, to be there for that!
When they approached Emmaus, the two followers invited Jesus to stay with them. As they were sitting at the table together, Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31). “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us” (Luke 24:32)?
Only after they came to an accurate understanding of the Old Testament did they see Jesus for who He was; they had clear vision. A fire was being lit inside them, and they could not contain it; they immediately got up from the table and returned the seven miles to Jerusalem. Just like the woman at the well who saw Jesus for who He was, they could not wait to tell the other disciples what they had just heard (John 4:28-29).
Jesus Opens Minds to Old Testament Truths
While the two were still talking about what they had seen and heard to the other disciples, Jesus appeared to them all (Luke 24:36). The disciples were frightened and couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Seeing was not enough. They were so tied to their understanding of the Scripture that until it changed, they weren’t going to comprehend the resurrection of the Christ who stood right in front of them, whose hands and feet they were touching. Kethoser (Aniu) Kevichusa, in his article The Road From Emaus, explains, “The revelation of Scripture requires the illumination of the mind. What is given in revelation cannot be grasped without illumination. “
So, Jesus went further, “He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45). He opened their minds so that they could understand everything written about Him in the Old Testament.
Jesus lived and breathed the Old Testament. He told friends and enemies alike that the Old Testament points directly to Him. Next time, we will talk about how Jesus’ preaching and teaching reflected His reliance on Old Testament Scripture.