Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament

by: Aubrey Coleman

Originally published on The Daily Grace Co. blog on October 11, 2021

The wonderful story of the Bible–all 66 books–is about creation, fall, redemption, and glory. And the story of Jesus–the One who makes redemption possible–begins in the very first pages of the Bible. Jesus is not only presented in the Gospels and referenced throughout the New Testament. He is present in Genesis all the way to Revelation, even if we have to look for Him in different ways as we study the Bible.

Our redemption was God's plan all along, and it was without delay that He made the promise of a coming Savior, Jesus Christ. We see the first promise of Jesus in Genesis 3:15. After Satan deceived Adam and Eve and sin made its devastating entrance into the world, God made a promise that He would send a man through the family line of Adam and Eve. That man would be bruised but would ultimately crush the head of Satan. The fulfillment of that promise would be the Son of God taking on flesh, living and walking among us as a man. He would obey perfectly, even to the point of death, but through His death and resurrection, He would conquer death and defeat Satan forever.

The big picture of the Bible is vital to understanding the Old Testament and New Testament as the story of redemption with Christ at the center. When we see the promise of a Savior to come in Genesis 3:15, genealogies no longer seem like irrelevant lists of names. Instead, they reveal God at work, weaving the fulfillment of His promise to send Jesus through every name listed in the family line.

As you study, here are a few tips to help as you look for ways Jesus is revealed in the Old Testament:

  • Simply study the passage.

We should always study a passage on its own before trying to identify Jesus in it. We must be careful not to place Jesus in a passage that is not referring to Him. When we wrongly interpret where Jesus is in the text, we can distract from the original, intended message. Therefore, we should study Old Testament passages as we would any passage–observing, asking questions, and making applications.

  • Look for connections to Christ

Some passages may reveal this connection more easily than others with certain words and phrases, but again, we do not want to make groundless assumptions. A few guiding points would be to look for evidence of a promise (as mentioned in Genesis 3:15 or Deuteronomy 18:15-18), prophecies (like Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:6-7), titles like Priest and Prophet, themes (like God's covenant with His people), or any passages highlighting redemption and salvation.

When you think you have found a connection, here are a few questions to ask to give credence to your claims:

  • Does the New Testament say anything about this topic or passage?
  • How does this passage point me to Christ?
  • How does this passage help my understanding of Christ and His redemptive work?

It is wise to answer Scripture with Scripture. Often, the New Testament will quote Old Testament verses or highlight certain themes. Matthew 1:23 is a direct quote from Isaiah 7:14: "See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel." This connection highlights the prophetic fulfillment of a Savior to be born, Jesus Christ. Growing in our understanding of God's Word, we can always keep an eye open for connections to the big story of redemption in Scripture.

As we begin to search for evidence of Jesus in the Old Testament, may it draw us deeper into the treasure of God's Word. We will undoubtedly reach hard passages, but let it all the more remind us of Scripture's depth and intricacies. Hopefully, these questions can help us better understand God's redemptive plan to send His Son into the world to save us from our sin. May these guiding points help us to uncover new understanding in the Old Testament by shining a bright spotlight on Jesus Christ and keep us longing for the full and final fulfillment of God's promises when Jesus returns in glory.

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