How Jesus Says To Read The Old Testament

Photo Credit: Mars Hill Church

Roughly 75% of the Bible is the Old Testament and the remaining 25% is the New Testament. This is an interesting fact considering how much time the average Christian spends in the New Testament over the Old Testament. There are, of course, reasons for this: The Old Testament is hard to understand at times. It is full of genealogies, odd laws about garments and food, and something called a cubit. The Old Testament is not written chronologically either, which means we often forget where to put the book of Ruth or Jeremiah in our mental framework of Genesis to Revelation. However, the Bible is one book, and the dividing page between the testaments should be removed!

There are other considerations and reasons to think that Christians favor the New Testament over the Old. Some are under the persuasion, wrongly, that only the New Testament is important, because it is there we find Jesus and the church (more on this to come!). Essentially, the art of reading the Old Testament as Christian Scripture has been lost in the majority. But Jesus has something very important to say to us about this.

After the crucifixion and Jesus’s resurrection, we find Him walking with a couple of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. He points out that the Messiah’s death was necessary as the Scriptures foretold, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Remember, the Scriptures that Jesus and His disciples had did not yet include the New Testament because they were living the New Testament and it had yet to be written! Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the disciples for not “getting” it. They should have known the truth of Jesus by knowing their Scripture. Again we read in Luke 24, “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled’” (v. 44). It is clear from the words of Christ that the entire Old Testament has the purpose of glorifying Him. Not only are the explicit prophecies about Jesus, like Isaiah 53, but the distinct historical patterns are meant to point to Christ, like Israel’s need for a true King to lead them in obedience.

This means that we read the Old Testament in relation to Jesus Christ. I think an example will help here. Genesis 22 is a good example of how to read the Old Testament with eyes toward Christ. This is where we read about Abraham being commanded to sacrifice Isaac. I will recount the story for you and I am sure you will pick up on some foreshadowing of Christ. Abraham is told by God to bring his only son, the one he loves, to mount Moriah to sacrifice him. They traveled three days to the mount, and Abraham loaded Isaac’s back with the wood for the sacrifice. Abraham laid his son upon the altar and raised the knife to slay him. God, through His messenger, intervenes and provides the sacrifice for Abraham, a ram. Abraham calls the place, “The LORD will provide.”

So, where is Jesus? The similarities are striking. God, through Christ, has provided the sacrificial lamb. As God called Abraham to sacrifice his only son (he had two, but God says ‘your only son’ clearly referencing ahead to Jesus), so too did God sacrifice His only beloved Son. Just as Isaac carried the wood to the altar, so too did Christ carry the wood upon His back for His sacrifice on Golgotha. Abraham held the knife over his son, and God intervened. With Christ, God held the knife of His wrath over His Son and brought the blade down. There was no other lamb, no ram caught in the thicket. Jesus is the final sacrifice provided by God Himself!

“…you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” 2 Timothy 3:15

Here are some recommendations for further reading:
Jesus on Every Page, by David Murray (256 Pages)
Is Jesus in the Old Testament, by Iain Duguid (40 Pages)
Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson (304 Pages)

Also, click here to enjoy a nice five minute video to further your mental juices.



  1. […] How Jesus Says To Read The Old Testament ( […]

  2. […] How Jesus Says To Read The Old Testament ( […]

  3. […] How Jesus Says To Read The Old Testament ( […]

  4. […] is the third installment (you can read the first and second as well) dealing with the reading and interpretation of the Old Testament as Christian […]

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