On the road to Emmaus after the resurrection, two despondent disciples were walking. Jesus appeared to them, to encourage them. After a short conversation about their disappointment, Jesus began to teach them. "And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:27.) On four other occasions, Jesus made a similar assertion: Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:4; John 5:39; Hebrews 10:7.
There are four aspects of these Old Testament Scriptures concerning Christ: 1, as Messiah and King; 2, Priest and Sacrifice; Prophet and Teacher; 4, Savior and Lord.
From the beginning in Genesis 3:15, Godly people had the promise of a Savior. Many prophecies used the word 'Messiah' and speak for he themselves. Others need to be identified. The quotes in Luke 24:27,44 give the best way to proceed. How blessed were the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, to hear Jesus interpret the Scriptures to them?
In Luke 24:45-47, Jesus said to them, "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 preached in His name to all nations..."
The prophecies in Luke include the following:
1. The ministry of Messiah's herald: Malachi 4:56 (Luke 1:17)
2. The Birthplace in Bethlehem: Micah 5:2 (Luke 2:11)
3. John the Baptist's introduction of Messiah: Isaiah 40:35; Malachi 3:1 (Luke 3:4-6)
4. Christ's claim in the Nazareth synagogue: Isaiah 61:2 (Luke 4:18,19)
5. The Triumphal Entry: Psalms 118:26 (Luke 19:38)
6. Cleansing the Temple: Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11 (Luke 19:46)
7. The Rejected Cornerstone: Psalms 118:22 (Luke 20:17)
8. David's Lord: Psalms 110:1 (Luke 20:42)
9. Son of Man returning in glory: Daniel 7:13 (Luke 21:27)
10. Christ numbered with transgressors: Isaiah 53:12 (Luke 23:37)
11. Casting lots for His garments: Psalms 22:18 (Luke 23:34)
In the Book of Acts, Luke records many more that more specifically speak about the death and resurrection of Christ and the spreading of the Gospel to the Gentiles. It can be assumed that the disciples learned these references from Christ Himself after the resurrection.
1. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit: Joel 2:28-32 (Acts 2:17-21)
2. Bodily resurrection of Christ: Psalms 16:8-11 (Acts 2:25-28)
3. David's Lord: Psalms 110:1 (Acts 2:34-35)
4. Prophet like unto Moses: Deuteronomy 18:15,19 (Acts 3:22-23)
5. Blessing of Abraham's seed: Genesis 22:18 (Acts 3:25)
6. The Rejected Cornerstone: Psalms 118:22 (Acts 4:11)
7. Royal rejection of Messiah: Psalms 2:1-2 (Acts 4:25-26)
8. As a sheep led to slaughter: Isaiah 53:7,8 (Acts 8:32-33)
9. Son begotten from the dead: Psalms 2:7 (Acts 13:33)
10. Blessings of David: Isaiah 55:3 (Acts 13:34)
11. Light unto the Gentiles: Isaiah 49:6 (Acts 13:47)
12. Tabernacle of David: Amos 9:11 (Acts 15:16)
13. Salvation unto the Gentiles: Amos 9:12 (Acts 15:17-18)
14. Messianic blindness of the Jews: Isaiah 6:9,10 (Acts 28:26-27)
These together show the example of what Jesus taught the disciples after the Resurrection. There are at least 14 items of prophecy that Paul mentions in Romans and Galatians.
Christ and the Levitical Priesthood.
Jesus came as Mediator. Also as fulfillment of the Priesthood of Aaron. Aaron entered the earthly tabernacle. Christ entered the Heavenly Temple. The high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year. Christ entered the heavenly one Once for All. The high priest entered through the veil. At Christ's death, the veil was rent. The High Priest offered sacrifice each year. Christ offered Himself once for all. He offered for the sins of the people and not his own sin. The high priest offered the blood of bulls. Christ offered His own blood.
Christ was a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. This was above and beyond the Levitical priesthood. Christ's priesthood was eternal, sinless, unchangeable, final, perfect, all-sufficient, and all prevailing. The Aaronic and Levitical Priesthood was the opposite.
The Tabernacle and the associated offerings were also prefigures of Christ. The Tabernacle was a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:5).
The one door: I am the Door (John 10:9)
Brazen Alter: A Ransom for many (Mark 10:45)
Laver: Washing of the disciples (John 13:8,10)
Lampstands: I am the Light (John 8:12)
Showbread: I am the true Bread (John 6:48)
Incense: I am praying for them (John 17:9)
Veil: This is My Body (Matthew 26:26)
Mercy Seat: I Lay Down My Life (John 10:15)
The Tabernacle was the place of God's presence in the Old Testament. Jesus came among men as God's presence in a person (John 1:14). The plan of salvation: one way through the gate, but a substitute offering, pure, with light, sustained by bread, represented by the priest, an act of intercession, and the shedding of blood. The variety of offerings of dedication: the burnt, the meal (cereal), and peace, of acceptance to God. Two were offerings of expiation - the atonement for man.
The life and sufferings of Christ were acceptable to God (burn, meal, and peace). His death on the cross made an atonement and propitiation for sin and trespass (Matthew 3:17; Isaiah 53:10-11).
Fulfillment of the Feasts (Leviticus 23)
Passover: The Death of Christ (I Corinthians 5:7)
Unleavened Bread: Holy Walk for Christ (I Corinthians 5:8)
First Fruits: Christ's Resurrection (I Corinthians 15:23)
Pentecost: Outpouring of the Spirit of Christ (Acts 1:5; 2:4)
Trumpets: Israel's Regathering by Christ (Matthew 24:31)
Atonement: Cleansing by Christ (Romans 11:26)
Tabernacles: Rest and Reunion with Christ (Zechariah 14:16-18)
Hebrews 10:5-7 states that Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Levitical and ceremonial system.
Fulfillment of the Old Testament Moral Laws (Matthew 5:7)
Christ's life and teachings fulfill the Old Testament moral law perfectly, which no other person could. This law embodied the unchangeable character and holiness of God. This was perfectly lived out by Christ, Who fulfilled all righteousness. Romans 8:3-4 describes how, by grace, this Righteousness of Christ is imputed to every believer through His death on the cross – which paid for our sins. Jesus showed and taught that the essence of the law is love. He was the only One that could and did live out what the Law demanded. The entire Old Testament was a preparation, a description, a prediction of the sinless perfection of Christ's life and sacrifice.
His teaching must also be included. He came to reveal the true spiritual meaning of the Old Testament, which contrasted greatly with the distorted traditions of the rabbis. They added stipulations, interpretations, and rituals that were empty forms, insisting on performance of the letter of the law. Jesus goes back to the original Word and explains the true spirit of the Law. The teachings of the Pharisees had clouded over, obscured, or even destroyed the original meaning and intent of the written word. Christ reaffirms, or fills up the heart of the Old Testament.
Jesus brings out the concept that not only was murder a sin, but also hatred. Not only was adultery a sin, but lustful intentions as well. Loving your neighbor was right, but love your enemies also.
Salvation through Christ.
Jesus criticized the Jews for thinking they could find or earn eternal life through a worship of the Bible. They would study and memorize the Bible. They observed the feasts and were basically moral. They thought their adherence to the Bible would bring them eternal life. Jesus had to explain that the true purpose of the Scripture was to reveal the promised Savior Who He was, that only through Him could they find eternal life. Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises that portray Him as the Suffering Servant, Savior, and Lord.
In the Old Testament, it is only God that saves. "I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:11.) That Christ claimed to be the Savior, to be equal with God, that He and the Fathers are One, led the Jews to seek His death. To them, it was supreme blasphemy to say that a man was equal to God.
Jesus is Jehovah, Who spoke for God from the beginning as:
Creator: Isaiah 40:28 (John 1:3)
Savior: Isaiah 45:22; 43:11 (John4:42)
Raised the dead: I Samuel 2:6 (John 5:21)
Judge: Joel 3:12 (John 5:27)
Light: Isaiah 60:19,20 (John 8:12)
The I Am: Exodus 3:14 (John 8:58)
Shepherd: Psalms 23:1 (John 10:11)
The Glory of God: Isaiah 42:8 (John 17:1,5)
First and Last: Isaiah 41:4; 44: 6 (Revelation 1:17; 2:8)
Redeemer: Hosea 13:14 (Revelations 5:9)
Bridegroom: Isaiah 62:5; Hosea 2:16 (Revelation 21:2; Matthew 25:1)
The Rock: Psalms 18:2 (I Corinthians 10:4)
Forgiver of Sins: Jeremiah 31:34 (Mark 2:7,10)
Worshiped by Angels: Psalms 148:2 (Hebrews 1:6)
Addressed in Prayer: Throughout Old Testament (Acts 7:59)
Creator of Angels: Psalms 148:5 (Colossians 1:16)
Confessed as Lord: Isaiah 45:23 (Phillippians 2:10)
Philippians 2:10 - that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Isaiah 45:22,23 speaks of every knee bowing, every tongue, shall swear unto Jehovah as Lord. Jesus fulfills their prophecy also. John 5:39 suggests that the "angel of the Lord" (Jehovah) was also Jesus preincarnate.
The Angel of the Lord is:
Called 'Lord': Genesis 16:7,13 (John 20:28)
Called God: Genesis 48:15,16 (Hebrews 1:8)
Claimed 'I AM': Exodus 3:2,5,6,14 (John 8:58)
Named Wonderful: Judges 13:15,18 (Isaiah 9:6)
Sent from God: Exodus 14:19 (John 5:30; 6:38)
Guide of God's People: Exodus 14:19 (Matthew 28:20)
Loved and Redeemed His Own: Isaiah 63:9 (Ephesians 5:25)
Commands the Lord's Army: Joshua 5:13-15 (Revelation 19:11-14)
In the Old Testament, the angel of the Lord is sent from the Lord God. In the New Testament, Christ our Lord is sent from God His Father. All the ministries of the 'angel of the Lord' in the Old Testament are fulfilled by Christ Jesus in the New Testament. The 'angel of the Lord' does not appear in the New Testament.
Let us sum it all up. To study the Old Testament with any other intention than seeking out God's promises of His coming Messiah and Savior in Jesus Christ is to study a form without finding the heart. This would be like studying the letter, without seeing the spirit. It would be like memorizing all the signs that point to a place, and then not traveling there. All the signs of the Old Testament point to a person, and that Person is Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" (John 5:46-47).
Christ is the heart of the Old Testament Message: in Messianic prophecy, the levitical priest hood and its rituals and feasts, in the Law of Moses, and in the promises of salvation and eternal life. He is depicted as Messiah and King, High Priest and Atoning Sacrifice, Prophet and Teacher, and Lord and Savior. All to the praise of the Father Who planned for so a great a salvation before the foundation of the world, so that we sinners could be forgiven through the sacrifice of His Son. All to the purpose of our being redeemed and saved for fellowship in His presence with Christ for eternity. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church in Lake City, SC, on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. Be sure to visit the author's full list of Bible Study Lessons by book for all of his free lessons.