When I read about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and how Jesus, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, … interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures,” I get jealous (Luke 24:27). Imagine getting to learn directly from Jesus as He taught through the Old Testament!
Of course, at this point in the story, the two disciples haven’t yet recognized Jesus for who He is. They considered him just another traveler on the highway, who happened to know an awful lot about Scripture. This apparent stranger was able to join together threads from across the Old Testament—Genesis and Jeremiah, Psalms and Samuel—to weave a picture of Jesus they hadn’t seen before. And this wasn’t the only time Jesus had to give this sort of teaching to show His disciples how all the pieces fit together. Later in the same chapter, Jesus appeared to the Eleven and others, and “he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (v. 45).
From the beginning, God’s plan had been to send His Son to die in our place, and in the resurrection, to defeat death. The Messiah was always going to take up our sins and defeat the powers of darkness. It was all there in the Scriptures—but it’s really, really hard to see.
Think about it for a moment. Can you name a single passage that talks about God’s Son being born of a woman, living as a man, then dying on a cross, only to rise again on the third day? There are promises of a Deliverer, and assurances that one day God Himself would reign as king. There’s even a description of a suffering Servant (Isaiah 53), but nowhere is He directly identified with God’s Son or the Messiah. All the pieces of the puzzle are there in different passages spread across the Old Testament, but we could never have put them together without Jesus’s help and the benefit of hindsight.
Paul, a man who was trained as a rabbi and a Pharisee, could not see how the Old Testament pointed to Jesus until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Then, as an apostle, he wrote of the “wisdom” of the crucifixion, saying, “None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).
Take a moment to marvel at God’s brilliance. The death and resurrection of Jesus are proclaimed throughout the Old Testament, but never so clearly that Satan and the powers of darkness could see it. (“The rulers of this age” is a term Paul often used to describe spiritual forces of evil; see Ephesians 6:12.) Otherwise, they would have recognized the cross not as the apparent key to their victory but as the moment of their defeat. But now, as the gospel goes forth, we can see that Jesus’s sacrifice and His defeat of death was God’s plan all along—and we can proclaim along with the Emmaus road disciples, “The Lord has truly been raised” (Luke 24:34).
You and I can study the Bible for a lifetime, and we will never complete our task. There will still be more to learn about God and what He’s done. Lots more. We can stand on the shoulders of theological giants, linguistic experts, and literary masterminds, and we still won’t exhaust all that the Bible has to say to us. Because of God’s infinite wisdom, His Word is a bottomless pool of riches for you and I to swim around in like we’re Scrooge McDuck. And someday, when this age has come to an end, we’ll get to walk and talk with the risen Christ ourselves, just like those disciples on the Emmaus road. I can’t wait.
Written by John Greco