When we study the Scriptures, it should always be in light of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (Luke 24:27). Many of us understand how this shapes our reading of the New Testament, but we need some help with the Old Testament.
Here are three questions to encourage your congregation to ask when reading the Bible Jesus read:
1. Does anything in this passage point directly to Jesus?
Direct prophecies of Jesus do not occur in every passage, but you will find them sprinkled throughout the Old Testament. For example:
- Genesis 49:10-12 prophesies a ruler from the line of Judah who will bring about a kingdom of prosperity.
- Isaiah 9:6 speaks of the birth of a child who will be named “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
- Micah 5:2 refers to a ruler who will come from Bethlehem.
2. Does anything in this passage foreshadow or anticipate Jesus?
In addition to direct prophecies, the Old Testament foreshadows Jesus in subtle, indirect ways.
For example, knowing that the Gospel of Matthew begins by identifying Jesus as “the Son of David” and “the Son of Abraham,” we can look for ways that events in the lives of David and Abraham anticipate who Jesus is and what Jesus will do.
We see Abraham’s “sacrifice” of his son Isaac in Genesis 22 as foreshadowing the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God.
We see Jesus’ love for His enemies (Romans 5:8) anticipated by David’s love for Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9, as he was a potential enemy, being a descendant of King Saul.
3. How does the gospel of Jesus shape my understanding of this passage?
The Old Testament is full of wise sayings, principles, and commands. But we can properly understand how these apply to our lives only when we read them through the lens of Jesus’ life and teaching.
He came to bring the Old Testament to its complete expression (Matthew 5:17).
Once we figure out how an Old Testament command or principle applies to us, we can only carry it out in the power of the gospel, which shapes and empowers our obedience (see 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 2:14; Philippians 1:27, 2:12-13).
- Seeing the Old Testament With Jesus’ Eyes
- 11 Things You Think Are in the Bible But Really Aren’t
- ISIS Accidentally Corroborates the Bible
Adapted from session 7 of The Gospel Project for Adults, vol. 9: Jesus Saves, written by Steven Mathewson.