Where is Jesus?
Well, that’s a bit of a mic drop moment. Jesus, as a 30 year old (or thereabouts), is beginning his ministry and is doing a tour of Galilee. He’s a bit of a hit with the crowds - or in bible speak he “was praised by all”. But then he goes home to Nazareth, stands up and reads words that had been passed on from generation to generation from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me”. I can imagine those assembled sitting back and enjoying these comfortable words. But then comes the kicker - Jesus rolls up the scroll and sits down. Everyone is watching him, waiting for his teaching - but instead he causes outrage by saying that these words were written ABOUT HIM. I’m not exaggerating when I say they were outraged - they got up, forced him out of town and took him to the top of a hill so they could throw him off!
But here we have, right at the start of Jesus’ ministry, him telling us that the Old Testament points to him.
Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.”
This isn’t by any stretch the only time Jesus says the Old Testament points to him. In John 5:39
You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me,
Another example is in that famous passage where Jesus, after his crucifixion and resurrection, joins Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus. They don’t recognise him as Jesus, but they have a good old chinwag as they walk. Jesus goes on to do a bit of bible study with them: Lk 24:27
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures.
If I could pick any bible study from history it would definitely be that one, even if it meant walking down a long and dusty road!
Jesus is EVERYWHERE in the Old Testament, not just in the prophetic writings. Jesus says he is in ALL THE SCRIPTURES.
So, let’s play a game of Where’s Jesus. (the kids have print outs of this - has anyone found Jesus yet?)
I’m going to need some volunteers.
We’re going to start with some prophecies about Jesus. One mathematician, Peter Stoner, says that one person fulfilling even just eight of these prophecies is one in 1..... a very big number.
There are hundreds of prophecies relating to the coming Messiah. The probability of one person fulfilling all of the prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament? Need to add quite a few more zeros.....
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
Micah 5:2 (NET 2nd ed.)
As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah— from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past.
Isaiah 61:1 (NLT)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
Rejoice, O people of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!
Look, your king is coming to you.
He is righteous and victorious,
yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—
Psalm 41:9 (NET 2nd ed.)
Even my close friend whom I trusted, he who shared meals with me, has turned against me.
One from the Psalms this time, written by King David.
Psalm 22:16 (NLT)
My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.
Another psalm written by David. The kicker for this one is that it was written hundreds of years before the barbaric practice of crucifixion had even been imagined.
Isaiah 26:19 (NET 2nd ed.)
Your dead will come back to life; your corpses will rise up. Wake up and shout joyfully, you who live in the ground! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits.
That’s just seven of the hundreds of prophecies that point to aspects of Jesus life, his lineage, and his character. This amazing graphic shows the links between OT prophecies and their fulfilment in the NT.
But hang on, I hear you cry… when Jesus was on the Emmaus Rd he said that he was in ALL the scriptures. And it’s true - but like Where’s Wally, he can be a bit hard to find. Let’s try with one of the more bizarre and grizzly stories from the OT, that we had read earlier in the service.
This story is from Genesis, and we find ourselves with an old man holding a knife over the chest of a young boy he’s about to sacrifice.
God said, “Take your son—your only son, whom you love, Isaac—and go to the land of Moriah! Offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you.”
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
There’s a deliberate echo here of the passage in Genesis.
Genesis 22:3 (NET 2nd ed.)
Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.
This is a bit trickier. But they’re heading to Moriah - which is where, hundreds of years after Abraham, Jerusalem was built. So when we read about Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, we’re hearing about another father, another son, and another donkey riding into exactly the same area.
Genesis 22:6 (NET 2nd ed.)
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac.
Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice - then centuries later Jesus carried the wood for his own sacrifice. In the same region.
Genesis 22:7–8 (NLT)
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered.
Abraham then prepares to sacrifice his son - but God calls him to stop, and tells him to sacrifice a ram he saw caught in a hedge instead.
Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
Thousands of years later on a mountain in the region of Moriah, the Lord did provide - not a ram, but a lamb for the offering - the Lamb of God.
God knew this was to happen from the very beginning. He knew what is was going to cost him. But because of how much he loves us he went ahead and did it anyway.
These streamers and ribbons show just a small fraction of the way the entire of the Bible is linked - and I’ve not even covered the epistles, or revelation! But they also show how we are linked - not just with each other, but across generations, and directly to Jesus. Next time you open your bible to the Old Testament, don’t sigh - but look for the breadcrumbs God has scattered all the way through pointing to Jesus. It’s the most exciting game of Where’s Jesus you can play!