The First Testament of Jesus Christ - Part 3

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2005-01-02 PM
  • The First Testament of Jesus Christ
  • Sermons

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Well, if you haven't noticed, we're definitely into the cold and flu season. Everywhere you go, people are coughing and sneezing, and you know, you kind of cringe when somebody right behind you coughs or sneezes. I hope it doesn't happen tonight, but it might. If you lived in the 1300s, those coughs and sneezes would be much more sinister. Perhaps you've read about the dark days of the plague that swept through Europe in the 1300s. It's usually called the Black Death, because of the purplish black color that affected various parts of the body. You've heard the children's rhyme, "Ring Around the Rosy, a pocketful of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down." That sounds so pleasant, doesn't it?

That's actually—it comes from the period of the Black Death, probably the later period of the Bubonic Plague that spread across Europe in the 16s and 1700s. Ring around the rosy refers to the first signs of the disease. It was often characteristic circular rose-colored sores on the body. Those open sores emitted a horrendous odor, so that the victim would often carry flowers to cover up the smell, hence a pocketful of posies. The bodies of the deceased, then, were cremated after they died for two reasons. One, because, frankly, the European continent couldn't contain the soaring numbers of dead, and secondly, and most importantly, because they discovered that the disease could be spread by scavengers, transmitted from picking on the dead bodies, unless those bodies were burned, or turned into ashes, ashes. And finally, we all fall down clearly comes from the fear that everyone might eventually die of the plague. So, the next time your children are enjoying that nursery rhyme, you can just bring that to their attention.

The two most common varieties of the plague were the Bubonic Plague, which you've heard of, and Pneumonic Plague. You can be infected by the first through the bite of infected flea. The second could be passed by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of the plague developed in anywhere from one day to six days, depending on the kind. Pneumonic, actually, could set in in a day and kill a man in a day. It included high fever, rapid pulse, and body aches. With the Bubonic Plague, 40% to 60% of those infected died. And with Pneumonic—the Pneumonic version, it was 90% to 95%. In fact, some estimate as high as 100%. Often the person would die within 24 hours of the onset of the symptoms. In less than a hundred years, in the 1300s, in less than a hundred years, forty million people died in Europe. To put that in perspective, today that would be like one in seven Americans died. In the 1800s it came back with a vengeance, and twenty million people died from the plague.

Now, today, the cause is well-known. We know that rats carry the bacteria, and it was most commonly spread by the bites of infected fleas. But as obvious as that should have been, it wasn't until 1894 that two doctors identified the bacteria that causes the plague, and two years later, in 1896, a Russian scientist developed the first vaccine. What should have been obvious, and became obvious, escaped the entire world so that sixty--at least, and there were actually earlier episodes of the plague, but just in Europe in the 1300s and later in the 1600s and 1700s, sixty million people died because of this little character on the screen behind you. The central character in the Plague was completely overlooked for thousands of years.

As I thought about that, it occurred to me (and as I was reading some about this, it occurred to me) that in a positive way, (that is, we're not talking about a destructive disease here, we're talking about the person of Christ—but) there's a sense in which many Christians do the same thing with Christ when it comes to the Old Testament. They completely overlook the main character. They miss the main point. They read it as if it's all about, simply about, a physical nation whom God has chosen, whom eventually the Messiah will come from. But they miss the point that Christ is absolutely central in the Old Testament. Let me say, in fact, Christ is absolutely central in the minds and hearts of Old Testament believers. So, when we look at the Old Testament, we're really looking at the First Testament of Jesus Christ.

Now, we've been looking at this. We've already seen that He was central to Old Testament history. We've seen that He was central to the thinking of Old Testament Jews. Tonight, I want us to look at what believers, with only their Old Testament could actually have understood about Christ. What should we see in the Old Testament, and what did they see and what should they have seen?

Let me just review with you briefly. We've been looking at several propositions. The first two, Christ is identified as God in the Old Testament. Secondly, Christ is actively involved in Old Testament history. We saw that a couple of Sunday mornings ago. And when we looked at that, we saw that He's involved obviously in creation. Nothing was created that wasn't created by Jesus Christ, the apostle John says. We saw that He's active in preserving His people and in His providence, and orchestrating the events of the Old Testament, and we saw that He's very much present in His appearances, primarily as the angel of the LORD. And we looked at a number of other incidents as well.

So, we can say that not only is Christ identified as God, actively involved in Old Testament history, but last week, we saw that Old Testament Jews eagerly awaited the Messiah. They understood that a person was coming. From Genesis 3 (we're talking the very first two people in the world) God made it clear that there would be a person who would come, who would be human, (and yet uniquely human because he's the seed of a woman) that would crush sin and deliver people from their sins. So, from the very first of the Old Testament, there was an obvious anticipation that this person would come, and we saw that clearly last week. They eagerly awaited the Messiah.

But we can also add (and this is what I want to look at tonight), how did they know to await the Messiah? Well, it's because the Old Testament clearly teaches about Christ. When you look at the Old Testament, it is without question developing (leading up to) this person Who is called Messiah, the Anointed One of God. The testimony of the New Testament about this is so certain that it cannot be disputed. Let me just show you several references. First of all, turn to John 5. John 5:39. Christ is speaking to those who have questioned Him. And He says, in verse 39,

"You search the Scriptures.…" [Now, obviously, at this point, the New Testament hasn't been written. As Christ talks to these people, He's talking about only the Old Testament. And He says,] "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; …" [They understood that the revelation of God was to ultimately promise to them eternal life. He says] but it is these [now "these" refers back to the Scriptures.] the "Scriptures … testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."

He continues to develop His theme but notice down in verse 46. "… if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me." Those are such clear, unequivocal statements from the person of Christ that you and I have to accept the reality that the Old Testament is about Christ. It presents Christ. At the end of His ministry He makes this same assertion.

Notice Luke 24:27. You remember the incident on the Road to Emmaus. Christ has been crucified, and two disciples, making their way back to Emmaus assume it's all over. It's done. All their hopes and expectations of Messiah setting up His kingdom have been dashed because their Messiah has been killed. He's been executed by the Roman authorities. And Christ shows up and walks along with them, and they don't recognize Him. But notice what He says to them in verse 27. "Beginning with Moses and with all the prophets…."

Now we're going to encounter that phrase several times tonight. Understand that in the Jewish frame of mind, Moses is the first five books of the Old Testament, and the rest of the Old Testament is "the prophets". So, when that expression is used, it encompasses the entire Old Testament. So, He says that "beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." Again, it couldn't be clearer that the Old Testament clearly teaches about Christ. Luke 24, same chapter, notice verse 44.

Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you …" [speaking now to His disciples. He has appeared to them again—one of His post-resurrection appearances, and He says,] "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms"

Now sometimes they will throw in the Psalms. That doesn't mean when they say "the law and the prophets" that they are excluding the Psalms. In fact, there are times when they use that reference "the law and the prophets" that they quote from Psalms. So, law and prophets can encompass the entire Old Testament. Sometimes they can throw in that third element which is Psalms as well, but they are all encompassed in the two words, or the two expressions. So, He says,

"… all things which are written about Me in the law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day," Notice, "thus it is written", "and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witness of these things."

He says, listen, it was written in the Old Testament. What I'm explaining to you was there, and you have now witnessed the fulfillment of these things. So, you see these clear statements from Christ, that in fact, He appears in the teaching of the Old Testament. We have seen Him in the history, but He also appears in the teaching of the Old Testament.

But nowhere in the Old Testament's revelation about Christ (or I should say nowhere is the Old Testament's revelation about Christ) any more clearly stated than in the sermons of the apostles in the book of Acts. If you want to know what the Old Testament has to say about Christ, you go to the book of Acts. Because there, the apostles, the appointed representatives (the proxies for Jesus), open up our minds to understand Christ in the Old Testament. And that's where I want to go in our remaining time together tonight. Christ, in the sermons in Acts. We're talking primarily about Peter and Paul. Let's begin with the day of Pentecost. Turn to Acts 2. Acts 2:24, Peter is speaking, and he says,

"But God raised Christ up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. For David says of Him," [Now, notice what he says here. David says of Jesus,] 'I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED. MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE;" [So, he gives this extended quotation from the Old Testament.] Verse 27, "BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE." [Now notice the point Peter makes.] Verse 29,

"Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." [In other words, he has undergone decay. Go and look in the tomb. You'll see a decayed body. He underwent corruption.] [And so, verse 30, who's he talking about?] "… because David was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the … [Messiah]…." [David understood that there would be a resurrected Messiah.] Verse 32, "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."

You see what he's arguing? He's saying, listen to what David says. "The LORD said to My LORD…." Who was David's superior? In his time, no one. And so, you'll see that the apostles of the New Testament make much of this statement because they are saying David understood. He understood that the Messiah would come, and he understood that the Messiah would be much greater than he, and that He would be raised from the dead. David looked for the Messiah. We saw that last week. He looked for the Messiah. And here, we understand that he, he knew that through the Messiah that his seed would include the Messiah, and through the Messiah there would be a resurrection. Tthere would be a deliverance from sin.

In chapter 3 we move on to the next of Peter's sermons, his second sermon that's recorded in the book of Acts, and notice, after the healing that took place. Verse 11,

… he was clinging to Peter and John [the man who was healed] all the people ran together to them in the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this," [he says, hey a great opportunity for a sermon.] "… Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?" [Now notice verse 13.] "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you."

Now what is this reference to "His servant Jesus"? There is almost unanimous consent that this is a reference back to the prophet Isaiah. You remember the prophet Isaiah anticipates and expects that there will be this Servant of Jahweh, this Servant of Jehovah. Remember that's described at length, the servant's role, in that key passage, Isaiah 53. That's the Servant of Jahweh, justifying the many, giving up His life. And here Peter Him (calls Jesus) the Servant of Jahweh. He is saying that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of those Servant of Jahweh passages that permeate Isaiah. He's saying, you want to learn about Jesus of Nazareth? Go back and read Isaiah, because Isaiah explained exactly what His role would be. Hurrying on, 3:18, down in the same sermon, verse 17, he says,

"… brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, [when you put to death the prince of life] just as your rulers did also." Verse 18, "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets," [what is it that God announced beforehand by the mouth of all His prophets?] "that His Messiah would suffer. He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord: and that He may send Jesus, the Messiah appointed for you."

He's saying, listen, all the prophets spoke about the reality that the Christ, the Messiah, would come. We've been living in anticipation of it, and all the prophets spoke about the reality that He would suffer. Scripture provided sufficient information about Christ. Skip down to verse 22. "Moses said, 'THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN. TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says….'" In Deuteronomy 18:15 is that famous prophecy where Moses says God's going to raise up a prophet like me from among your people. It's a reference to the coming Messiah, and here Peter claims that it is none other than Jesus of Nazareth.

"… every soul [verse 23] that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among [his] … people." But then notice verse 24, even stronger. "And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken [this is all inclusive, folks, all the prophets who have spoken], from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days."

So, when we go back and we see prophecies about the Messiah, prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament, we're not making it up. This is what the apostles were taught by Christ Himself. That the Old Testament was about Him, and that He permeated its pages, from Samuel through every one of the prophets he says, they wrote somehow about Him.

Verse 25, "It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with you fathers, saying to Abraham, 'AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.'" He goes back to the Abrahamic Covenant made in Genesis 12, and he essentially says, Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of that promise. That in his seed, singular, the Messiah, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. So that promise made to Abraham (and we'll look at that promise, the Abrahamic Covenant in detail at some point, but ultimately that promise made to Abraham, that legally binding promise made in the context of a relationship) was about the promise of the coming Messiah. Oh, it included other things. It included physical promises of land and blessing and children, but it was far more than that.

You look at everyone (let me put it to you this way), and maybe we'll look at this in detail at some point. If you look at every one of the covenants in the Old Testament that God makes with, with individuals, from the covenant with Abraham to the covenant, even the Mosaic Covenant to the Davidic Covenant, etc. Every one of those covenants unfolds a little more, a progressive revelation about who the Messiah would be. And here he says Christ is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham.

Chapter 7, in Stephen's sermon, the sermon that ended up getting him killed—you know I've often thought, I hope I never preach that sermon. Acts 7:52, let's start at verse 51. He's saying (here's his application),

"You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears [that will get you a few stones] are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did." [Now notice verse 52.] "Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One" [Notice again, that all the prophets are included here, and they announced the coming—they all] "announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become."

Acts 10, you're beginning to see a trend here. You're beginning to see that when the prophet, when the apostles, rather, speak, they're using the Old Testament Scriptures, and they're convincing people about the reality of who Jesus was, that He was in fact God's Messiah based on the Old Testament Scriptures. That's so foreign to most of us because we assume there are a couple of sort of passages thrown here and there that are sort of vague, but the apostles say no.

Notice Acts 10:43. Here's Peter at Cornelius's house. The first Gentile (I shouldn't say the first), but it's certainly, in Peter's frame of mind the first. More Gentiles hear the good news. And here he says, notice verse 44.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.

So, what do you have here? You have the Gentiles responding to the message and being gloriously delivered. What was the message they heard? Well, notice how he summarizes it in verse 43. Of Him, that is Jesus of Nazareth, he started in verse 38 outlining his message about Jesus of Nazareth. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit in power. "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name [here's what they taught about Him. That through His name] everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." Again, Peter couldn't be clearer. The prophets taught the reality that you needed to believe in the Annointed One, in the Messiah, in the coming Servant of Jahweh, in the Special One, the Seed of the Woman who was to bruise the head of the serpent. You must believe in Him to receive forgiveness of sins.

That brings us to Acts 13. Acts 13:23, here Paul is on his first missionary journey. He's speaking to the people in the city in Antioch, and he says this to them in verse 23. "From the descendants of this man …" [Now, he's talking about David here.] "From the descendants of this man according to [the promise—or according to] promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus." So, what's he saying? He's saying alright, from the descendants of David, one of David's descendants has fulfilled the promise. What was the promise? Well, if you were to read verses 32 - 39 you would see what the promise is. Verse 32,

"… we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers." [It was the good news that was shared with the fathers,] that God has fulfilled His promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm. "YOU ARE MY SON. TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU." "As for the fact that He raised Him up for the dead no longer to return to decay. He has spoken in this way: I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID". … [And] in another Psalm [he says,] "YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY." [And he said, let me tell you, it wasn't David He was talking about,] verse 36, "… [for] after he'd served the purpose of God in his own generation, [he] fell asleep, [He died,] and he was laid among his fathers, [and listen, he did see corruption.] "… but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. Therefore let it be known to you brethren, that though Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses."

He says, listen, Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the promise made to the patriarchs in the Old Testament. The promise of forgiveness, permanent, final, complete forgiveness, made possible by the coming Seed of the Woman, that was prophesied to the first pair of human beings.

Apollos, you remember was mighty in the Scriptures, we're told. But in Acts 18:28 we're told that "… he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures [again, the Old Testament] that Jesus was the … [Messiah]. The only tool he had to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah—he had two tools, basically—and that is, the eye-witness testimony of those who had seen Him—the apostles who were still alive—and the Old Testament prophecies and teaching about Him. And he married those two together to powerfully refute the Jews in public, and to demonstrate that Jesus was in fact the promised Messiah. Acts 26, Paul finds himself before the Roman authorities, before Agrippa, and he says this in verse, let's go back verse 19.

"So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. For this reason some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to put me to death. So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day [now notice this, this is the key, I stand to this day] testifying both to small and great, stating [underline the word] nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place;

He said, listen, I didn't invent this. You know, a lot of people, if you've read any criticism of the New Testament, you'll read a lot of people who say, well it's obvious that Paul sort of spun off his own branch of Jesus' teaching, and he just sort of invented it on the fly as he went along. Paul says to Agrippa, I didn't invent this stuff. No, I'm just teaching nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place. What is that? What is his message?

that the … [Messiah] was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead—[in other words he had to die to be raised—so He would suffer, He would die, He would be raised from the dead.] He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles. [He said, listen, my message is absolutely in line with what the Old Testament teaches about Jesus Christ. In fact, not only is it in line, but I have no message except the Old Testament and what it teaches about Christ. And that even includes the Gentiles.]

Verse 26. Well, notice verse 24. "While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice [hope there are no Festuses among us] "Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad. But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth." [Literally, words of truth and rationality.] "For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escaped his notice; for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets?"

You see what Paul is doing here? He's pulling the net. He's saying, listen, Agrippa, if you believe the Prophets, and you will marry what you believe the Prophets teach with what I have told you about the historical person Jesus of Nazareth, you will undeniably, unquestionably come to the conclusion that He is the Promised One. That He is the Messiah. The Old Testament was definitive enough that Paul could say to King Agrippa, listen, if you believe the prophets, and you just listen to what they said, and you compare that with the life of Jesus of Nazareth, then you will come to the right conclusion. You must acknowledge the truth of Christianity.

The Book of Acts finishes with the same message. Acts 28:23, Paul now is in Rome, and

"… they … set a day for Paul …" [when all of these people who wanted to learn about him could come—to learn about Christianity could come] "… they came to him in his lodging in large numbers." [Remember he had his own, (had to hire his own) house where he was incarcerated while he was in Rome.] "… they came to his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus [how?] from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets from morning until evening."

Now there's a preacher. From morning til evening. It tells me several things. One, it tells me that Paul was a compelling speaker. It also tells me that there was enough in the Old Testament about Christ that it took Paul all day to argue his case. There are many other examples throughout the New Testament, but I think, if you look at these sermons—if you look at what the apostles under the inspiration of the Spirit are saying, then you have to understand that Christ is not hidden in the Old Testament. He is revealed in a way that He should be understood.

There are many other examples I could look at, but let me cite one more New Testament reference. Turn to 2 Timothy 3, 2 Timothy 3, Paul, talking to his son in the faith, Timothy. He says, Timothy, verse 14, I want you to "continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you've learned them, that from childhood you have known the sacred writings." [There again is a reference, a technical term for inspired Scripture, and for the Old Testament here.] "… which is able to give you the wisdom [watch this, the Old Testament is able to give you the wisdom] that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." That's a shocking statement to many Christians, but that's exactly what Paul writes to his son in the faith, Timothy.

So, it's appropriate for us to say that when we look at Christ, He is clearly taught in the Old Testament. The Old Testament was absolutely clear about Him. But in spite of that, we have to add, the Old Testament Jews had varying degrees of understanding. They should have understood, but they had varying degrees of understanding. Many were ignorant of Him or confused about His nature. For example, many thought He would be a King. You remember the incident in John 6 when they decided, in verses 13 - 15 and there, that they were going to thrust Him into becoming a king, and He escaped from them? They had concepts of a political deliverer. They didn't understand the Old Testament prophecies that He would suffer and die. Many were very confused about Him. But even though we say that (that there were some on that end of the spectrum who were utterly ignorant), there were also some who got it.

There were some even in His time, Old Testament believers, if you will, before Christ's death, who got it. They saw all that was true. Let me show you a couple of these. We looked last week (I won't have you turn again, but we looked last week) at Abraham. Of course, that was long before Christ's time, but I love that passage in John 8:56 where it says Abraham looked for and welcomed the Messiah. Or as Hebrews says, he saw it from afar. He saw it was coming, and he was eager for it to come.

But I want you to see a couple of New Testament personages what understood. They got it. Turn to Luke 1. First was the father of John the Baptist. A man by the name of, a righteous man by the name of Zachariah, Zacharias. He was filled with the Holy Spirit we're told in verse 67 and he prophesied saying,

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people. … [He] has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David, His servant…." [He understood. What I want you to see here is that Zacharias understood that salvation—spiritual salvation—would come through the lineage of David. How did he know that?] Well, verse 70. … [It was spoken] by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old. Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES AND FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies [there was a physical aspect of deliverance, but it's more than that—look at this] Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days."

He understood that he was talking not just about physical deliverance from some enemy of Israel, but spiritual deliverance from his sin. He said, this deliverer is going to allow us to serve God in holiness and righteousness all our days. And he goes on in verse 77 to make it clear. "To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins…." He got it. He understood that the Messiah would come. He would be a descendant of David, and that He would bring spiritual salvation. He also understood something more about Him. Verse 78, he understood that all of this would be accomplished through this baby that would be born later through, through his wife's cousin, and whom his son, John the Baptist, would announce. He says in verse 78, "Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us." You know what that's a reference to? That's a reference to Malachi 4:2. Where Malachi ends the Old Testament prophesying that the Sun will rise. The Sun of righteousness will come. Verse 79, "TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS, AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH. To guide our feet into the way of peace."

That, by the way, is a prophecy from Isaiah 9, in the context of that great prophecy about the Son that would come, the Son that would be given, on whose shoulders the government would sit. Of course, a prophecy of the birth of Jesus Christ. So, Zacharias understood that his son, John the Baptist, would announce the Messiah, who would bring spiritual salvation, who would be a descendant of David, who would be a fulfillment of even the last prophecy of the Old Testament that the Sun of Righteousness would shine, and that he would be a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah about the child that would be born. He understood it all.

Turn to Luke 2. We meet another old man, a man by the name of Simeon. The occasion is after Jesus had been born forty days before. You see, after the birth of a son, the mother had to wait forty days before going to the temple to offer a sacrifice. And so, when she does go, with the baby, notice in 2:25.

… there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, [Notice he was] looking for the consolation of Israel; [In other words, he anticipated the Messiah.] and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had [actually] seen the Lord's … [Messiah].

Now, what I want you to see is that he already understood that the Messiah was coming. What the Holy Spirit directly revealed to him is that he wouldn't see death (he wouldn't die) before he had seen the Messiah. Verse 27,

… [he came into the temple—excuse me,] he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to carry out for Him the custom of the law, … [Simeon] took Him in his arms and blessed God, and said, "Now, Lord, you are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace According to Your word [watch this] for my eyes have seen Your salvation … [that] You have prepared in the presence of all peoples." [This salvation isn't just for us. We're not talking just about physical deliverance for the Jews. He says, He will be] "A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, … [as well as] the glory of Your people Israel."

He understood that God's salvation—God's spiritual salvation—would be in the Messiah and that it would be for both Jew and Gentile. But notice verse 35. He understood something else. Go back to verse 34.

… he said to Mary, … [Jesus'] mother. "Behold this Child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, … for a sign to be opposed--and a sword will pierce even your own soul…."

He also understood that the Messiah, this Son of Mary, was going to suffer and die. Hence, he tells her, you're going to be pierced. Your soul is going to be run through with a sword as it were, as you stand and see your own Son suffer. So, although there were many confused and ignorant, there were some Old Testament believers who understood much about Christ.

But this is our final proposition. They all should have understood. They all should have understood. We get this from the words of Christ. Turn back to two passages we looked at before, John 5, John 5:39,

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."

Jesus says, look, there's plenty of light. There's plenty of revelation for you to get it. There's plenty of understanding for you to see that I am, in fact, the Savior of the world. But you refuse to see it. Verse 46, and the real issue is that you would believe Me if you really believed Moses, because he wrote about Me. What was the issue with these people? Was it that the Old Testament was just too unclear and too vague and too hard to understand? No, Jesus says the real issue is your heart. You won't come to Me, and because you won't come to Me, you're blind to all that's revealed about Me in the Old Testament. There's the issue. Should people of the Old Testament have understood all of the things that the apostles taught in the book of Acts, that we saw? Absolutely! Christ Himself says it was clear. It was clear, but you chose not to embrace it.

There's one other passage where Christ makes this very clear. Turn back to Luke 24. At the end of His ministry, on the Emmaus Road. Verse 25,

… He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart" [to see what was really vague and unclear in the Old Testament. No that isn't what it says. He says,] "O [fools or] foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" [He said, look, the issue isn't that it wasn't there. The issue isn't that it wasn't clear. The issue is your own hearts. Notice what He says in verse 26. Here's what the prophets spoke about.] "Was it not necessary for the … [Messiah] to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"

He says, listen, the reason you didn't understand it, the reason you didn't get it from the Old Testament wasn't the Old Testament's problem. Your receiver wasn't tuned in. You weren't believing what you read. You couldn't for a moment imagine that your Messiah would die, because that was absolutely contrary to your pre-conceptions. But the issue wasn't that it wasn't there. You and I see it don't we? We pick up Isaiah 53, and it's pretty clear. And that's what Jesus said to the Emmaus disciples, Emmaus Road disciples. He said listen, it was there. It was clear.

And then He does something amazing. Verse 27, we've read it before. "Beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." When I get to heaven, I want to ask the Lord to give us all that same lecture. Lord, show us what we missed. Teach us what (because of our slow foolish hearts), we didn't see.

Christ absolutely permeates the Old Testament. He permeates its history. He permeates its prophecy. He permeates what it teaches. And we should get it. You and I know, because we have the New Testament revelation that explains to us, we should get it. Don't forsake the Old Testament.

What does all this mean for us? (I have a) I had an Old Testament professor when I was in college who gave the illustration of his child. He said, early on, with some of his young children, one of his sons went to the supermarket with his wife, and they came home with one of those plastic eggs from the machines that are designed to seduce money from our children. You know, those machines there at the entrance there of the supermarkets. And he said he tried to give him a lesson. You know, but as soon as he saw this egg, he launched into this lesson about being frugal and resisting temptation.

He almost started to do that, but then his son assured him that that plastic egg (what was in that plastic egg) was worth every penny he had spent. Inside of that little plastic egg, he went on to tell us, was a little fish of some magical substance that would hugely increase in size if you put it in water, and so he and his son tried the little experiment. And they got a dish out and filled it with water and put this fish in the dish and left it overnight. He said, sure enough, it grew, and it grew significantly.

The next day they were examining it (this enlarged fish), and they were able to see details that were invisible on the little fish. It had a mouth, and eyes, and even what appeared to be scales. All of those were there on the little fish, but when the water was added, all of a sudden you could see it so much more clearly, and you could see all of those elements were there. He told us that to this day he regrets not putting that fish in the bathtub, wondering what would have happened. He forgot his son's reaction to that event, but he said he'd never forget his own reaction. His immediate reaction to that little experiment was, "what a classic example of progressive revelation!" Just like a seminary professor.

You see, that's the way it is. When we go to the Old Testament, we see the truth about Christ. It's condensed. It's hard to distinguish, but the elements are all there. And when you get to the New Testament and the apostles, as it were, expanded, and blow it up, they're not changing the truth about Christ. They're not inventing something new. All they've done is make it larger so we could see it in more detail, so we could understand the reality of what was promised God's people in the Old Testament.

Listen, folks, don't for a moment think that we are an add-on to the Old Testament, that Christianity is some kind of an add-on to Judaism. Judaism was about the Messiah originally. When God revealed His truth and His revelation, it was about the person of His Son from Genesis 3 throughout the Old Testament to Malachi 4:2. That's what Jesus said. I encourage you, as you study, as you look at the Old Testament, as you read it, look for Christ. You know, too many Christians approach the Old Testament as if they were fishing in a bathtub. They have absolutely no expectations except fulfilling devotion time. You know, well, I'm supposed to read the Old Testament, so I guess I will.

We can open the Old Testament with the certain knowledge that it is filled with Jesus Christ. I am not saying (don't misunderstand me) I'm not saying that you will find Jesus Christ in every verse in the Old Testament or even on every page. You go to a stocked pond; you don't catch a fish every time you throw in your hook. But you've got a pretty good chance. The same thing is true when you go to the Old Testament. He is there, everywhere. So, keep your eyes and mind open, and you'll cross-reference it to the New. Don't give up your Old Testament.

The Lord that we worship (and this where I want to end tonight). The Lord that we worship (that you and I worship) is a part of God's complete revelation, and in fact, according to Hebrews, He is God's final word. He's God's last word. God, who at various time spoke to us through the prophets in various ways has now spoken to us in His Son. But in reality, what we learn from Christ Himself is that He was speaking to us through His Son and about His Son from the very beginning.

It comes down to this, on a practical level. Christianity, the Bible, is all about Jesus Christ. Is your life all about Jesus Christ? Do you live and breathe Jesus Christ? Have you arrived where Paul arrived, that everything else was worthless compared to the surpassing value of Jesus Christ? That's what the Scriptures teach from beginning to end. It's all about Him.

Life: it's not about you. It's not about me. It's all about Christ. May God help us to live that way.

Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for the clarity with which Your word speaks to the issues including the place of Jesus Christ. Lord, You have exalted Him to a place of pre-eminence. You have declared that the time will come when You will bring all things under him. You will make everything submit and bring it into subjection to Him. It's in Him that You have revealed Yourself from the beginning of creation until now and will even when we are in Your presence.

Lord, it's obvious that Your intention is (even as You said through Paul) that Christ would have the first place in everything. May that be true in our lives.

Father, don't let us become distracted with the details. Don't let us lose the big picture, miss the main character. Lord, help us instead to see the big picture, that our Bible is about Jesus Christ, and our lives are to be about Him. He is to be the object of our devotion, our Master, our Sovereign. He is to be everything to us. Lord, make it so.

We pray in His name. Amen.

The First Testament of Jesus Christ