Theology

Christ in the Old Testament

Martin Luther wrote two profound things in his preface to the Old Testament. First, he said,

“These are the Scriptures which make fools of all the wise and understanding, and are open only to the small and simple as Christ says in Matthew 11[:25]. Therefore dismiss your own opinions and feelings, and think of the Scriptures as the loftiest and noblest of holy things, as the richest mines which can never be sufficiently explored…Here you will find the swaddling cloths and the manger in which Christ lies, and to which the angel points the shepherds [Luke 2:12]. Simple and lowly are these swaddling cloths, but dear is the treasure, Christ, who lies in them.” (American Edition, Vol. 35, p. 236)

Later on, he also said,

“If you would interpret well and confidently, set Christ before you, for he is the man to whom it all applies, every bit of it. Make the high priest Aaron, then, to be nobody but Christ alone, as does the Epistle to the Hebrews [5:4–5], which is sufficient, all by itself, to interpret all the figures of Moses. Likewise, as the same epistle tells announces [Hebrews 9–10], it is certain that Christ himself is the sacrifice—indeed even the altar [Heb. 13:10]—who sacrificed himself with his own blood.” (American Edition, Vol. 35, p. 247)

Martin Luther is saying that the Old Testament is all about Jesus, but this is not ground breaking or new. He is not saying anything different than what Christ Jesus Himself said.

Jesus has much to say regarding the Old Testament. When He was teaching and talking to the Pharisees, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are those that bear witness about Me.” (Jn 5:39–40) He also said, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father. Moses, in whom you have put your hope, is your accuser. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me. For he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writing, how will you believe My Words?” (Jn 5:45–47) It’s not just John who records this but also Luke.

Jesus, before heading to Jerusalem, said to his disciples, “Look, we are going up into Jerusalem, and all the things written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the gentiles, and He will be mocked, ridiculed, spit upon, and, after they beat Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise.” (Lk 18:31–33) He also said similar things after His resurrection. Luke records for us: “He said to them, ‘These are the Words that I spoke to you while being with you, that it was necessary that all the things written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Me be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He said to them, ‘Thus it was written that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, that repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached in His name to all the nations.'” (Lk 24:44–47)

The Apostles and early pastors obviously followed in Jesus footsteps. Peter says, “What God foretold by the mouth off all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and turn that your sins be blotted out, so that times of relief may come from the face of the Lord, and that He send the hand-selected one to you, Christ Jesus, who must receive heaven until the times of restoring all things, of which God spoke through the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.” (Acts 3:18–21) Paul does it: “Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 9:22 ESV) Apollos also does it: “He powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” (Acts 18:28 ESV)

Martin Luther, the Apostles, and early-church pastors all say what Jesus says. Jesus was the promised Christ, the Messiah. He died and rose. All of this comes from the Scriptures. When it comes to the Apostles and the early Christians, they only had the Old Testament. As Christians today, we follow in their footsteps. We follow our Lord and Savior Jesus not only because of what is written in the New Testament but also the Old. The Jews do not have the key to understanding the Old Testament. We Christians do. Jesus is that Key. Jesus is in the Old Testament as we shall come to see.

We pray to our Lord Jesus to bless this study of His Old Testament Word. We ask Him to be the Key to open His Word, to enlighten our minds that we may see Him our Savior in all the pages of Scripture. For without Him there is only darkness and death.

O Key of David and Scepter of the House of Israel,
You open and no one can close,
You close and no one can open:
Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness
and the shadow of death. Amen.

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