It’s All About Him
Luke 24:44–45 – “‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (ESV)
We’re all suckers for a good mystery. Several years ago, a bestselling novel (and its movie spin-off) captured global attention by recounting that Leonardo DaVinci’s art concealed coded revelations having to do with Jesus. Before that, the American evangelical subculture got caught up in the arguments made by another popular book that the Bible contained encrypted messages about events from today’s headlines—messages that could be deciphered using computer searches of the biblical text. These sensational claims turned out to be more hype than fact.
But Jesus himself believed that the Bible of his day, the Old Testament, prophetically pointed to his own life, death, resurrection, and saving mission to all nations. On Easter Sunday, he gave an impromptu Bible study to a couple of crestfallen disciples on their way to the village of Emmaus (Luke 24:13–32). They didn’t recognize him at first any more than they recognized that the Old Testament was all about him. But “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27; all quotes ESV). Once their eyes were opened to Jesus’ presence in Scripture, they were ready to recognize him as he stood before them. They raced back to Jerusalem to share the good news with the other disciples, and Jesus appeared to them all in the room where they were staying (Luke 24:33–49). Once again, he gave a Bible lesson about how “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).
What did Jesus find written about himself in Israel’s Scriptures? He gives his followers an outline of the answer: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46–47). That’s the code that Jesus prompts us to find in the Bible—not random predictions to spook us or feed our curiosity like a fortune cookie or a horoscope, but the gospel of saving grace. And he invites us to detect hints of that gospel everywhere in Scripture, from the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament) to the Prophets (much of what we call the Historical Books, as well as the Major and Minor Prophets) to the Psalms.
It’s the Psalms we’ve been reading over the past several days, specifically the Egyptian Hallel (Psalms 113–118). We’ve seen how this traditional Passover liturgy foreshadows Jesus’ Virgin Birth, Triumphal Entry, Last Supper, Passion (both in Gethsemane and on Golgotha), Resurrection, Ascension, and Return, and the interim spread of salvation to all nations. The clues are all there, hidden in the text, but the whole picture became clear only after Jesus had completed his mission. Thankfully, the disciples didn’t have to wait for the invention of a computer powerful enough to scan through the biblical data. They had something better: not a machine but a Messiah, not a supercomputer but a supernatural Savior, not a product of human ingenuity and effort but a heaven-sent, virgin-born, resurrected Lord!
Recently one evangelical leader has promoted the idea that Christianity needs to be “unhitched” from the Old Testament. Jesus teaches us to do something different with Israel’s Scriptures: to read them through the lens of his coming and find his silhouette in those ancient pages. Just as Jesus soaked himself in the Old Testament and lived out its fulfillment, so also he calls us to do likewise. As we read the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms under the guidance of Christ, our thinking and conduct are challenged, instructed, and renewed at ever-deeper levels so that the story of Israel, which is the story of Jesus, becomes the story of our lives, too. That’s the meaning of Lent. That’s the meaning of life. Embrace that meaning today.