When you read the Bible, do you look for Jesus in the Old Testament? Everything in the first 39 books of the Bible points to Jesus and His saving work. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells the one story (metanarrative) of God’s redemption through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself declared that the Old Testament Scriptures “bear witness about me” (John 5:39). (Also see “What is the Metanarrative of the Bible?”)

For various reasons, Christians sometimes avoid reading the Old Testament. (Also see “6 Reasons to Read the Old Testament.“) But if we read it with our “Jesus glasses” on, we will find deeper understanding and greater significance. I am NOT suggesting that we allegorize everything in the Old Testament or add meaning that God did not originally give it. What I do urge is that we recognize Jesus where the Bible itself indicates Jesus is present. Let’s not miss any exciting truth.

Three Ways to Look for Jesus in the Old Testament

Whole classes are taught on this subject so this post can only scratch the surface. But I can give a few ways to spot Jesus in the Old Testament books.

  1. Pictures of Jesus and His Redemptive Work – In the book of Hebrews, the author shows how the elements of the Old Covenant were a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5). For instance, the high priest was just a shadow of our perfect High Priest and intercessor Jesus (Hebrews 8:1) and the sacrificial system was a depiction of the once-for-all perfect sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 10:12). And let’s not forget the rescue from slavery in Egypt, the Passover lamb, and God’s deliverance of Noah and his family in the ark (1 Peter 3:18-22). All these point to God’s ultimate salvation. (By the way, “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Hebrews” is coming Spring 2024!)
  2. Promises of a Savior – Long before the birth of Jesus, God promised again and again that He would send a Savior. As early as Genesis 3:15, God promised that a Savior would defeat Satan. When God called Abraham, He promised that all the families of the earth would be blessed through his descendant (Genesis 12:3). God’s promise to David that He would establish David’s throne forever was a promise of our eternal King Jesus (2 Samuel 7:12-16). And those are just a sampling.
  3. Prophecies of Details about Jesus – It’s amazing how many details of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and sacrifice are foretold in the Old Testament. We can find facts from His ancestry and birthplace to His betrayal, death, and resurrection. (For a list of 39 prophecies fulfilled by Jesus see “Is Jesus the Promised Messiah?“)

Keep Jesus in Your Bible Study

My goal for this blog is solely to encourage you to look for Jesus wherever your are reading or studying in Scripture. We cannot properly understand any piece unless we remember that it’s all about Jesus. The redemption story provides the right lens for reading any passage in the Bible. I hope that focus will increase your desire to read the Old Testament and really expand your understanding of the whole of Scripture.

So Much More

I feel inadequate to really do this subject justice. But I have found a few articles that can tell you lots more. These are far more in-depth and give you more specific direction. I hope you will check them out.

What’s your favorite picture of Jesus in the Old Testament?

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