Finding Jesus in the Old Testament: Why Study the Old Testament?

Do you find the Old Testament a little bit intimidating and sometimes hard to understand? If your answer is yes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. A recent study conducted by YouGov showed that 59 percent of Protestant Americans prefer the New Testament over the Old Testament. For many of us, the Old Testament can seem outdated and unconnected to our lives today. But without the Old Testament, we would not know the truth about the creation of the universe, the origin of man, the entry of sin into the world, the nation of Israel, or even why we need a Messiah. Apart from the Old Testament, the New Testament is incomplete, and without the New Testament, we can’t understand the Old Testament. The New and Old, together, form the complete revelation of God.

Unfortunately, the Old Testament is one of the most neglected areas of Bible study. And it shouldn’t be. There are many reasons why we shouldn’t ignore the Old Testament. Here we will focus on one of these reasons: Jesus lived and breathed the Old Testament; it was His firm foundation.

Jesus Lived and Breathed the New Testament

In the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels, Jesus refers to twenty Old Testament people, quotes from nineteen different Old Testament books, and mentions twenty-one Old Testament events. Jesus viewed the Scripture as authoritative, unbreakable (John 10:35), and indestructible (Matthew 5:18).

Jesus began and ended his ministry with the Old Testament. During His temptation in the desert, He overcame Satan by quoting scriptures from the Old Testament (Matthew 4:1-11). In  His hometown of Nazareth, at the synagogue, He read from Isaiah 61:1, and then after rolling up the scroll and handing it back, He said that the Scripture had come true while He was reading it (Luke 4:16-21). Even on the cross, Jesus recited the Old Testament (Psalm 22:1). In whatever situation Jesus found Himself in, Scripture seeped from Him. Scripture was His firm foundation.

Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law, Not Abolish It

Jesus made it very clear that He did not come to abolish the Law of the Old Testament but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-18).

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Matthew 5:17

God’s holy Law remains; Jesus simply clarified it. He reintroduced the Law as originally intended before man diluted it.

Jesus trusted the Old Testament completely; He did not reject any of it, nor should we. If we genuinely want to grow in our understanding of Jesus, of who He is, we should understand the firm foundation upon which He relied, the Old Testament. Instead of letting the Old Testament intimidate us, embrace it as Jesus did. 

For more reasons to study the Old Testament, check out Finding Jesus in the Old Testament: It Points to Him, Preaching Jesus from the Old Testament, and Finding Jesus in the Old Testament: the Veil is Removed.

Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

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