Why read the Old Testament? What use is the Old Testament to us today?
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about 11 kilometres from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah 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.
Here at the key moment in Luke’s report of all that Jesus did, we meet two men whose experience was as bad as it gets. They are people we can identify with. Their high hopes for a bright future for their nation were dashed by the arrest and murder of Jesus, the one they’d hoped would bring them that better day.
But then, unexpectedly, the risen Jesus joins them, and they don’t recognise him. They speak with him about their hope that Jesus was the one to rescue their nation from its troubles, for his words and deeds amply displayed that he was from God. But then he was arrested by the leaders and handed over to death on a cross. And more perplexing, just these few days later, Mary Magdalene and others were reporting his tomb was empty and that he had risen from the dead!
So then Jesus opens their minds to all that was written in the Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament) concerning himself. Jesus explained how the whole of the Old Testament points to his life, death and resurrection. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection form the lenses through which to read the Old Testament. The reason God gave these ancient texts was to lead us to Jesus, and to the significance of his life, death and resurrection.
This is the way to read any part of the Old Testament, ask, “How does this point to Jesus and show the need for Jesus?” Jesus’ life, death and resurrection form the lenses through which to read the Old Testament.
Head: Why and how should we read the Old Testament?
Heart: Does my heart want to know more about Jesus?
Hands: How will my reading of the Old Testament change, since God gave it to lead us to Jesus?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus as the fulfilment of all that was given by you in the Old Testament. Thank you for the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Please enable my reading of the Bible to be Jesus-focused, seeking to learn more about him and what it means to live for him. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
A song to listen to: Lead Me To The Cross
This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of The Jesus in series in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.