Text: Luke 24:13-27
…Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Why should anyone living in the first century have believed Jesus when He said He was the messiah? Have you ever asked that question? Better yet, why should faithful religious Jews have believed Him?
There are lots of answers to this. Miracles and the legacy of Jesus’ followers often come up. But how does the Bible answer this? The resurrection is the single-most important answer. The resurrection is a proof that Jesus was the messiah, but it only works this way because it is a fulfillment of Scripture. The resurrection didn’t just happen out of the blue. It wasn’t as if it was simply the biggest miracle that anyone could think of. No, the death and resurrection of the messiah had been prophesied since the very beginning. As we heard in our text this morning, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
This is absolutely essential to Christianity. We are not a new religion. Jesus was not creating something that had not been prophesied before. Christianity is the fulfillment and continuation of the religion of Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah. Jesus was predicted in the Old Covenant. Faithful Jews should have known this. But do you really know this? Do you know the verses in the Old Testament which prophesy about Jesus? Could you show the death and resurrection of the messiah from Moses and the prophets? Where would you turn? This morning we will help you learn to read your Bible and do just this. Following the example of Christ Himself, we will find the death and resurrection of the messiah in Moses and all the prophets.
All the Scriptures
When Jesus walks with the two men to Emmaus, they explain the events of Good Friday and Easter with astonishment. This was an incredibly and surprising weekend, they say! But Jesus, after hearing them, rebukes them and says that they should have known all about these things:
“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (vs. 25-27)
Notice that Jesus doesn’t just appeal to one or two verses. He doesn’t even pick just one prophecy. He says that “all that the prophets have spoken” points to the Cross and Resurrection. And which prophets does He have in mind? –“Moses and all the prophets.”
“Moses and all the prophets” basically means, “the whole Old Testament.” “Moses” refers to the five books of Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy, and “all the prophets’ basically means “the rest of Scripture.” We see this manner of speech a few times in the Bible. Sometimes it’s “Moses and the prophets” and sometimes it is “the law and the prophets,” but it’s a common way to talk about the whole Old Testament. For instance, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17), “The law and the prophets were until John” (Luke 16:16), and “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote” (John 1:45). Later in Luke 24, a threefold division is used, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). The meaning is the same throughout. It means the Old Testament, the whole thing.
There is a lesson for us in this already. We have one Bible, and though that Bible is made up of 66 books, it’s all one story. We should read it looking for Jesus. We should try to make the connections. We should understand the New Testament with the Old Testament background in mind, and we should understand the Old Testament with the New Testament fulfillment in mind. This means we have to know our Bibles, both the Old and New Testament. Make sure that you are taking time to read your Bibles. Try to set aside some time every day, whether it’s just a devotional meditation or a more involved study. As the old proverb goes, take and read. And then try to connect the dots. Let the Scriptures lead you to Jesus.
All the Scriptures Are About Christ
Now, this section of Luke’s gospel has become very popular among Evangelical Bible teachers in the last half-century, and it has inspired lots of very good Biblical theology. One expression that you will frequently hear from these people is “All of the Scripture is about Christ.” This is why we should have a “Christ-centered” reading of the Old Testament. I think this is mostly right, but what does it mean?
Is every verse in the Bible about Jesus? That can’t be right. There are plenty of verses which are just describing the particulars of a historical event. For instance, when Genesis 47:27 says, “So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly,” it means that the children of Israel went to live in the country of Goshen in the land of Egypt. There’s no secret prophetic meaning hidden there, nor does there need to be.
There are also prophesies about people other than Christ in the Old Testament. In fact, there are prophesies about bad guys. Acts 1:20 tells us that Psalm 109 was about Judas Iscariot when it said, “Let his days be few, and let another take his office.” When Romans 3 tells us that “there is none righteous, no, not one,” it is quoting from Psalm 14. And it’s obviously not talking about Jesus. It’s talking about sinners.
So we don’t need to try to shoehorn every Old Testament verse into somehow talking about Jesus directly. That’s unnecessary, and it’s not the point that Luke is trying to make at the end of his gospel. No, instead the point is that the Old Testament, taken as a whole, is a story about the messiah. There are messianic prophecies, promises, and symbols running throughout the whole of the Old Testament, and anyone reading the Old Testament rightly should see this. There was always a “big picture” or a larger story connecting all of the little stories.
This big story begins in Genesis 3:15, when God promise Eve that she will bear a son and that son will crush the head of the serpent. The story continues in the promise of a “seed” to Abraham. The picture of the death and resurrection of the promised son is first shown in the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22, but then again in the story of Joseph at the end of Genesis. The Exodus account, and then the instructions about the tabernacle and sacrifices, all also help to paint the picture of the need for blood atonement, and as the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches us plainly, these sacrifices and priestly rituals were always shadows pointing us to the reality which would be found in the death of Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:5; 10:1). As we’re hearing in Sunday School, the Davidic era brought many important messianic themes to light, and this comes out powerfully in the psalms. Psalm 2, 16, 22, 45, and 110 are only a few of the psalms which predict specific things about the messiah and His work. And then, perhaps the most famous messianic prophecies show up in the prophets. Isaiah is especially famous, as it is full of those great Advent prophecies. But Daniel, Zechariah, and Micah also come to mind.
The Way the Apostles Preached
Now at this point I want to give you an assignment. I’m serious. Teenagers and adults, you’ve got homework. Younger kids, it’s your job to ask them for the answers. Ask them by at least Thursday, and then you can come tell me if they completed it or not when you see me at church next week. Can you do that for me? Ok. Here’s the assignment. Read through the sermons in the Book of Acts. I’ll pick just three for you to try. Write these passages down: Acts 2:14-39, Acts 3:17-26, and Acts 13:26-41. Read those sermons, and find the Old Testament quotes in them. Your bibles will probably tell you in the margins or in the footnotes where to find the verses. On a separate sheet of paper write the Old Testament quotations down, and then go back and read those passages of Scripture. Once you’ve done that, try to explain how those passages predicted Jesus. That’s the assignment. Do you think you can do it? Explain the Old Testament passages which the Apostles preached from in the Book of Acts.
This is important because we need to learn how the Apostles read the Bible. Why do we need to do that? Because Jesus taught them to read it that way. Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, and so what we see the apostles doing throughout Acts is what Jesus taught them in Luke 24:27. They are explaining how the Old Testament spoke about Christ. They are giving us divinely-inspired exegesis. It’s right there for us to see, and we can learn from them and imitate them.
Learning to read the Bible the way the Apostles read the Bible also helps us know that we are reading the Bible correctly. There are difficult verses in the Bible. That’s true. There are plenty of verses that people fight about and have differences of opinion about. But if you can find an example of the New Testament explaining the verse, then the debate is over. The Bible can teach you how to read the Bible.
The whole of the Bible is about the messiah. It lays out the promise of redemption, it explains the ways sin has to be dealt with and the conditions necessary for God to dwell with men on earth, and it predicts the manner in which the messiah will come, live, suffer, die, and even be raised from the dead. Then the New Testaments shows us that in the work of Christ and then applies the effects of Christ’s work to believers in the church. If we are reading our bibles correctly, we need to be seeing this, and in this order.
What is the Bible about? Jesus. Yes, the old Sunday School answer is correct. It’s all about Jesus. But it’s about Jesus and the story of redemption. So we should find what part of the story we are reading at any given place in the Scriptures and connect it to Him.
Finally then, is the Bible ever about us? This has become something of a hot-potato question. If all of the Bible is about Jesus, then is it appropriate to also see ourselves in the Bible? Some preachers and teachers actually say no. No, we shouldn’t read the Bible looking for ourselves, they say. Instead, we should be spectators, looking to find Jesus.
That sounds pious, and it has a lot of truth to it. But the Bible actually goes even further. We are looking for Jesus, but we are also told to look for Jesus in us. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Did you catch that? Paul says, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Our lives of holiness should be lives where Christ Himself lives in us. This comes out again later. Galatians 4:19 says, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” Paul wants Christ to be “formed in” the Christians of Galatia. And we should want to see Christ in our lives today. He should live in the hearts of all believers, and that is why we should live holy lives consistent with His teaching. We should live Christ-lives because our lives are Christ’s.
This morning I want you to learn to read your Bibles properly. I want you to read them in order to find Christ. But I don’t want you to do this simply as an academic exercise. Don’t just do this and stop. No, find Christ in your Bibles so that you can also find Him in your lives. We must enter into the story as well, that same story that has been going on since Genesis. We are Christ’s Church, His Body, and we continue to carry out His commission until He comes again. The Bible has ended, but the story continues.
This Christ-centered approach to the Scriptures and to life will also help guide us to the proper balance of faith and works. We live holy lives because of what we believe about Christ. We don’t’ see ourselves in competition with Him but instead as vehicles for Him to continue to do His work. This will require effort on your part, to be sure, but the primary effort will always be the same—to see Christ where He is. Direct your thoughts appropriately and get every obstacle out of the way. Don’t be hard of heart to believe. Don’t be blind to see. Jesus is there. Jesus is here. Let us continue to find Him.
Let us pray.