#727: The First Gospel
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Reflections by the Pond
September 28, 2015
And he said to them,"O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!"
Luke 24:25 ESV
Late in the afternoon on the day of Christ's resurrection, the risen Lord encounters two of his followers on the road to the village of Emmaus. At first they are not permitted to recognize Jesus, but then later, as "He took the bread and blessed it," their eyes were opened for them and they recognized Him. When He first comes upon them and hears their discussion, Jesus off-handedly asks them what they're talking about. They express surprise that He, apparently, is blithely unaware of the things recently transpired in Jerusalem, and simply, almost playfully, He inquires: "Oh? What things?" The two men then proceed to summarize for Him their conversation.
"The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see."
What Jesus keys off of, in His reply to them, is that virtually every one of the things they mentioned had been prophesied long before. These two disciples had every opportunity to recognize that precisely these events were foretold for the long-anticipated Messiah. So there, on the road to Emmaus, Christ Jesus enlightens them.
And He said to them, "O 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 enter into His glory?" Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
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To the surprise of many—including our two blinded disciples out on the road—the Old Testament is actually chock-full of Jesus the Christ. It is "pressed down, shaken together and running over" with Him. The astute reader will find references to Him, prophecies about Him, and actual visitations by Him. It is so detailed, so specific, so undeniably accurate, that one might even go so far as to consider the whole of the Old Testament—Genesis 1:1 to Malachi 4:6—a first gospel account.
In the Old Testament the Messiah's lineage—both human and divine—is detailed, as well as much of His life: the nature of His birth, the nature of His death, and much of what lies between. The books of the Old Testament describe Messiah's offices, His work, His challenges and enemies, His character, His temperament.
What is truly remarkable is that this is not just some haphazard laundry list of isolated, teasing clues, but a systematic, artfully woven tapestry that continues its intricate weave seamlessly into the New Testament. It reveals, from beginning to end, God's plan of salvation for man. The entire Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 literally shouts, "Messiah! Christ!"
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Since before the members of the Godhead even invented time, Their plan for the salvation of man always has been coherent, specific, orderly, and centered on their second member: the Son. Through Him mere humans would gain, first, access to, then communion with, very God. In His spoken and written word, from the beginning God would insinuate Himself into the affairs of man in the person of Messiah, Christ—first mysteriously, prophetically, then tangibly as Jesus of Nazareth.
Those who limit their reading and study to the New Testament books are missing half the story of their own miraculous salvation. Those who are bored by the Pentateuch or the prophets are ignoring fundamental descriptions of the Messiah. And those who dismiss the Psalms as just "ancient Hebrew poetry," and thus not worthy of their consideration, are rejecting some of the most eloquent, artful teaching about the One they claim as Savior.
The story of Christ, as penned by the Holy Spirit, runs through every book in God's word.
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me... If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"
John 5:39, 46-47