Learning about Jesus Through the Old Testament
Jesus Christ is the most influential person who has ever walked the face of the earth. Christians and non-Christians alike read about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection all over the world. Many of us believe what we read. Others chose not to.
The Christian faith isn’t based on a belief system. It is built on historical events. As essential as the events in Jesus’ life were, the four gospels, and even the New Testament in its entirety, aren’t enough to paint the entire picture God the Father has given us to marvel over.
As Christians, our faith in Jesus Christ will never be everything God intended it to be without at least a basic understanding of the Old Testament. From the opening verses of Genesis, we are given glimpses of a triune God, God the Father, God the Son, and the Spirit of God.
We are given the first details of God the Son’s mission in Genesis 3:15. The Protoevangelium tells us that Jesus is going to do something that will separate all of God’s children from the rest of the world. The entire Old Testament gives us prophecy after prophecy of what this great Serpent Crusher is going to do.
We find details throughout the historical books of The Old Testament, the books of the prophets, even the Psalms are full of more information about Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah. From the start of God’s written Word through its completion, our need for Jesus is the message all of the Bible’s writers have had for us.
Then, in Malachi chapter four, the last chapter of the Old Testament, the people are given their last prophecy of hope before the birth of the awaited King.
Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”
When I read the words “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings,” I can’t help but think of the sight of Jesus standing there with outstretched hands, wearing a prayer shawl. Keep in mind, it was the fringes of Jesus’ shawl the woman would have touched, begging that God would stop her hemorrhaging. Because of her faith, she was to reach out and touch this garment Jesus was wearing, and the bleeding stopped.
While we might not have a vivid image to look at today, wings of healing are exactly what we would have seen, looking at Jesus with His loving arms stretched out. When Malachi wrote this, you have to keep in mind that he wasn’t thinking about American Christians living in 2022. Instead, Malachi was focused on the people living in the years before the birth of Jesus Christ. These people would have known what a Jewish man wearing a prayer shawl looked like. They would have been able to see the wings as they draped over the person wearing the shawl. Only the wings of Jesus would have provided the healing they desperately needed.
This is the first post of a new blog series I'm writing that will focus on celebrating Jesus. We will spend time taking a thorough look at the Scriptures celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the events that led to Jesus being crucified on the cross, and then the transforming work that happened to the disciples leading up to Pentecost. The three different blog series will each tie into one another, teaching us how to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, regardless of how many weeks we are away from Christmas or Easter.
The Birth of Jesus Christ
I wanted to kick things off this week, looking at three primary lessons we learn from the Old Testament regarding Jesus Christ. First of all, Jesus had to arrive on the scene. There had to be the birth of a Messiah the Jewish people, and the rest of the world, desperately needed. This story is so much more than the birth of a child. Every day we wake up is a reason to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!
We can read through the Old Testament and find prophecies of the birth of a Savior hundreds of years before Jesus was born. God’s people even knew where the birth would happen before it did. Joseph and Mary ended up precisely where they were supposed to be through God's sovereignty. None of this happened by accident.
Luke doesn’t tell us details such as the census decree from Caesar Augustus when Quirinius was the governor of Syria for nothing. First and second-century Christians would have read this and knew exactly when and where what they were reading happened. Even people such as Caesar Augustus and Quirinus who didn’t believe in God the Father were used for His glory. The Old Testament teaches us how and why everything happened exactly how it did.
The Old Testament's second lesson about Jesus I want to look at is exactly how horrible the crucifixion was. Keep in mind that these details were written hundreds of years before the Romans started using crucifixion as a means of execution. As horrific and gruesome as Jesus’ death was, this is something that needs to be celebrated every day!
God revealed to the Jewish people precisely what would happen to the Messiah they were waiting for. You can not read the story of Jesus without Isaiah chapters 52 and 53 coming to mind. Looking at the Scriptures from a post-resurrection view, there’s no way that Jesus Christ wasn’t the Messiah everyone was waiting on. The Old Testament details are too great not to see the connection.
It is Finished
The last thing I want to focus on today from the Old Testament is the Greek word tetelestai. This is the final statement Jesus makes before His death in John 19:30. Tetelestai is Greek for “It is finished.”
When Jesus said this, the Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled. While the Jewish people were waiting for another kind of savior, a political one, Jesus was the Messiah they had all been searching for. With Jesus’ words on the cross, Genesis 3:15 had been fulfilled. The serpent had been crushed.
As post-resurrection believers, this is important to us. The scriptures have been fulfilled. There is nothing left for us to do but believe that what Jesus did on the cross counted for us. Our salvation doesn’t depend on being at church every Sunday morning. There’s not a minimum number of Bible verses we need to remember. A certain amount of time doesn’t need to be spent in prayer every day for us to be saved. Salvation has already been delivered. All we have to do is believe.
The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ don’t make the Old Testament invalid. On the contrary, what Jesus has already accomplished makes the Old Testament fulfilled.