Recognizing Jesus in the Shadowlands of the Old Testament

Recognizing Jesus in the Shadowlands of the Old Testament

Written by J.V. Fesko |
Wednesday, July 10, 2024

As you consider the Old Testament, do not press the narratives into the service of application apart from Christ. First consider how Christ is organically connected to the text. How does the New Testament authoritatively explain the particular Old Testament text before you? Through the light of the revelation of the gospel of Christ, you are equipped to recognize clearly Jesus in the shadowlands of the Old Testament.

In the wake of the death and resurrection of Christ, a number of Jesus’ disciples failed to receive word that their Lord and Savior had risen from the dead. Under the impression that Jesus was dead in his tomb, the disciples walked on the road to Emmaus until a visitor joined them along the way:

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” (Luke 24:13-17)

This visitor eventually revealed himself as the risen Messiah, and Jesus began to teach them about his ministry from “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). In other words, Jesus taught his disciples exclusively from the Old Testament.

In fact, the phrase that Luke uses, the Law, Prophets, and Psalms, refers to the three major divisions of the Old Testament. Another way of stating Christ’s point is, “The whole Old Testament points to me—Jesus!” If the Old Testament is about Jesus, then how does this affect the way we read it?

The Old Testament isn’t merely about morals, ethics, or leadership.

All too often people read the Old Testament as if its narratives set forth principles merely about morals, ethics, or leadership. Moses is an example for leadership in how he led a rebellious people through the wilderness—these “life lessons” can then be applied to a host of workplace conflicts.

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