It’s quite appropriate that at the end of Luke’s Gospel, he recounts the interaction Jesus had with a couple of his disciples walking along the road to Emmaus. Jesus – the Messiah – has been crucified and the disciples are stupefied, unable to piece it all together. But along comes Jesus disguised as he has been throughout the Scripture and he opens their eyes to see that the whole of Scripture is really about him:
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27) Luke recounts that their “hearts burned within them” as their minds were opened.
Luke reveals to us an important fact: that knowing Gods plan and gift of salvation is deeply rooted in knowing the entire story. The good news doesn’t just reside in part two of the Bible, the New Testament. The entire story of the Bible is about one person, one plan, one goal. That person is Jesus, that plan is redemption, the goal is the glory of God. It’s really a pretty simple story line.
We read the Scripture looking to see how the text, wherever it is, relates or points forward to Christ. In the book The Ancient Love Song , Charles Drew (P&R Publishing) notes some of the ways Scripture points us to Christ.
The Law (especially portions of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) anticipates Christ by exposing our hearts and persuading us of our need for a Savior.
At a broader level, the failures of specific Old Testament characters (for example, the repeated failures of God’s people to trust him and follow his law) also point indirectly to our need for a Savior.
The promises scattered throughout the Old Testament (especially prophetic books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) anticipate Christ by kindling a longing at several levels that only Jesus can ultimately fulfill. For example, God’s repeated promise to dwell with his people (Leviticus 26:11-12; Ezekiel 37:26-28) comes most clearly to fruition in the incarnation of God’s Son (“The Word become flesh and dwelt among us,” John 1:14) and the future kingdom of Christ (Revelation 21:3).
Wisdom literature (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and so on) compels us to look to Christ for meaning and for the ability to live wisely (see Colossians 2:3).
The psalmists and prophets sometimes spoke with the voice of Christ, anticipating his suffering (the Cross) and exaltation (the Resurrection).
Particular Old Testament offices (prophet, priest, and king) foreshadow Christ’s redemptive work. They invite us to look for a prophet who is greater than Moses, a priest who is greater than Aaron, and a king who is greater than David.
Certain Old Testament rituals, such as the Passover (Exodus 12), foreshadow God’s redemption of his people through the Cross.
In the New Testament we encounter explicit proclamation of Jesus:
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) introduce us to Jesus Christ and his ministry on earth, culminating in his death, burial, and resurrection.
The Epistles (Romans, 1 Corinthians, and so forth) offer sustained theological reflection on the significance of the person and work of Christ for the church.
Revelation gives us a window into the future glory of Christ as he brings in his heavenly kingdom.
The Bible is an eclectic book. It’s filled with books about history, poems, wisdom, songs, prophecy, and in depth narratives. Read any in part, and you miss out on much that God wants to teach you. Camp out in just your favorite parts and again, you’ll miss the fullness of the story. The point, I believe, of such a vast array of perspectives and genres is to engage with a God who is not normal. Nor is he routine. Nor is he interested in simply passing on a list of rules and regulations for us to follow without passion or desire.
He desires to engage with us, to relate with us, to walk with us. And so, we approach the Bible eager to see what God is like. And knowing that God is exactly like Jesus perhaps you can begin to look at the Bible with fresh eyes. When you understand that God has been pointing to Jesus from the very beginning, your study of the Bible becomes a whole new adventure.
Excerpt from “Four Sevens.”
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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words still ring true today, especially for believers who want to live together as the Bible instructs us to live.
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