As we continue through our What Does the Bible Say series, we spent our time on Sunday looking at what the Bible has to say about the Old Testament. Too often we find ourselves confused or apathetic toward the Old Testament. Yet, in Luke 24, Jesus gives a couple of examples that gives us great insight into how we should think about the Old Testament. The entirety of the Bible is pointing toward and helping us to understand the person and work of Jesus.
1. The Old Testament Gives Us Proper Perspective on Christ: v.13-27
After the resurrection, Luke picks up the narrative with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus himself joins them as they travel, and it is obvious that they are disappointed and saddened at what has happened to Jesus. But as Jesus begins to interact with them, He turns to the Old Testament to help them realize that it has been pointing toward Him and giving us perspective on what His life and ministry would look like. Jesus states two items of focus that He highlights throughout the Old Testament: His suffering and His glory. The perspective on Christ’s glory is easy to identify and see, partially because we want to see it. But there is an element of Christ’s suffering that is clear as well, and partially why the disciples failed to fully grasp all that was happening.
2. The Old Testament Gives us Understanding of the Work of Christ: v.44-49
After His exchange with these two men, Jesus meets with the disciples. Again, He uses the Old Testament to help them understand the work of Christ. Jesus helps bring clarity on His death, burial and resurrection, the nature of repentance and forgiveness as well as our role as witnesses. Again, He does this by drawing upon the Old Testament texts.
3. Practical Considerations:
1. We Need to Regularly Read the Old Testament: We cannot faithfully profess or know what God has given to us if we haven’t even read all of what He’s given to us. The Old Testament must be a regular part of our Bible reading.
2. The Bible is Not About You, It’s About Jesus: The Bible isn’t about us, it’s about Jesus! Yes, it gives us great insight into our true selves, but the spotlight isn’t focused on us, it’s focused on Jesus. As we read, this must govern how we think through and how we look at and interpret what we are seeing in the text.
3. The Whole of the Bible Leans Toward Jesus: The entirety of the Bible tells a singular story. Story is this: There is our good God who created man, and He is endeavoring to rescue mankind from their sin. Throughout the Bible there are myriads of individual stories, but each story and the totality of the stories serve to create a singular picture, which is the story of redemption in Jesus. There are questions we can ask as we read that will hopefully be helpful for us to see how the specific accounts help us to see Jesus within them.
Questions we Ask of the Old Testament:
A. How does this passage help me to understand the person, nature and work of Jesus?:
B. How does this passage help me to understand more about humanity/myself?:
C. How does this passage help me to understand God’s ultimate plan and work?:
4. The Old Testament Gives Categories, Context & Frameworks by Which to Understand Jesus
This is crucial for us to recognize. One of the major functions of the Old Testament is that it is helping us to understand who Jesus is and what He will do so we will recognize Him when He shows up. Imagine if Jesus showed up in Exodus 1. How much of his life, ministry, activity and salvation would make sense or be comprehendible? We’re going to really struggle to understand the nature of atonement, substitution, the depth of our depravity, sin and so on.
Here are some of the categories that the Old Testament serves to make clear to us:
A. Our Inability to be Righteous:
B. The Need for Sacrifice to Atone for Sin:
C. We Are Incapable of Saving Ourselves:
D. We Long For and Need a Savior:
E. The Only One Who Can Rescue is God:
When you look at that list, you realize that the Old Testament is laying out the gospel for us. It’s giving us a category, context and framework by which to understand Jesus.
5. Old Testament Accounts are not to be Moralized, they are to be Gospelized: Bible is a singular story told through a mosaic of stories. Each account is in some way, meant to reveal Jesus. Where we get into trouble, is we moralize Old Testament accounts. We make them about being a “good person” and we’re fixated on behavior. Instead, these accounts should serve to help us see the gospel. This is the story of the Bible, the story that God has always been telling and that we must endeavor to see from cover to cover.
God help us that we would love the Old Testament and see it for what it is; a prequel that helps us to understand the most beautiful story ever known – the story of God’s redemptive work.