As both adults and children we read the Bible as if it contains a series of unrelated stories. Flip open to a book of the Bible, read it, and then wrestle with many questions about the details in the story and why the story unfolded the way it did. Rather than exploring further, we shrug our shoulders, put the book back on the shelf and walk away. Our questions remain unanswered. We’re tempted to view the Bible as irrelevant or unrelated to our modern lives. By giving up too quickly, we miss out on some of the most amazing details that point to Jesus. It’s time to follow our curiosity a bit and see just how eloquently the Old Testament stories point to Jesus. You’ll develop a deeper understanding of the gospel and a greater appreciation for the Bible when you follow the Messiah in the details.
The Stories Point The Way
Following the Messiah in the details of the Old Testament might seem like an academic task. The good news is there are resources to help you. I’ve posted about The Jesus Storybook Bible HERE. It would be a great companion resource for this series. Each Bible story ends with a statement that ties the story to a broader plan. That larger plan was designed by God to repair the relationship broken when Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden of Eden. Their rebellion is our rebellion, too. Our own sin and rebellion isolate us from God. But then we learn God has a plan to rescue us and restore the relationship WE broke. The Messiah jumps out very early in the Bible in a detail found in Genesis 3:15. God curses the serpent and says that Eve’s descendant will one day crush his head. That’s Jesus in that detail!
A Remarkable Plan
Some say God’s plan of redemption is too restrictive. I disagree with that thought. The fact that God even has a plan to reach out to (and sometimes outright chase down) those who have offended him is a picture of his great love for us. Why did he choose to send his son Jesus to pay the price for MY sin? I can’t answer that question. It’s an act of grace and kindness that stretches beyond my own capability to mirror. But it was his plan – a plan that becomes the lens through which the stories of the Bible are understood.
Learning About Jesus in the Old Testament
So, let’s pick up that lens and take a closer look at some of these biblical stories. Help your children understand from an early age that God has a plan. Show them his plan is consistently revealed through the stories of the Bible. Give them a love for learning about Jesus, even in the Old Testament. Discovering Messiah in the details of the Bible is an adventure worth taking.
Walking Away from Jerusalem
I want to begin this series by looking at a story found in the New Testament that speaks to what we are about to discover. It’s an account that takes place right after Jesus’ disciples have witnessed his death on the cross. They don’t understand why Jesus’ life has come to such an abrupt and brutal end. Confused, disappointed and grieving, they can’t see how this situation fits into the larger story of the Messiah. Their belief was there, but their expectations of how this would play out were vastly different. Let’s look at what happened when the resurrected Jesus met a few of them as they were trudging away from Jerusalem.
An Encounter with a Stranger
They were about 7 miles from Jerusalem when a stranger joined them. The Bible tells us that they were kept from recognizing Jesus. That’s one of those details that is interesting. We don’t really know why they were kept from recognizing him. What we do know is that it was intentional. Perhaps it was so that they could fully process what he was about to teach them. A happy reunion over the miracle of his resurrection would have been quite a distraction!
A Lesson from Messiah Himself
Reading Luke 24, you’ll note that the disciples already knew that Jesus’ tomb was empty. They had confirmed that for themselves. They tell the stranger that they had hoped Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel. What a sad pair. Their disappointment is obvious. Then Jesus says to them (remember, they don’t recognize him yet), “’You foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to come into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the Prophets, He explained to them the things written about Himself in all the Scriptures (v.25-27).”
As the men approach Emmaus, they convince the stranger to rest overnight. It’s over a meal, reminiscent of the Last Supper, that they finally recognize Jesus. As soon as they recognize him, he disappears. And this is what they say, “Were our hearts not burning within us when He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us (v. 32)?” What a lesson that must have been! And I think our hearts will begin to burn as we see Messiah in the details of the Bible. We just need to take the time to look! It’s going to be fulfilling and fun as we look for Messiah in the Old Testament.
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