On the day Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to a group of frightened and discouraged disciples who were quite surprised to see the leader alive. After proving that he was not a ghost by eating some broiled fish he set out to explain to them why seeing their formerly dead leader should not have come as a surprise:
“This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44-47)
What Jesus says here is quite astounding. He is telling His disciples that He, Himself is the point, the climax of the Jewish Scriptures, which they referred to as the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms and Christians today call it the Old Testament. Everything written from Genesis to Malachi points forward a deliverer (a Messiah in Hebrew, Christ in the Greek language) who will emerge onto the world stage, suffer, die and on the third day rise again. Following Christ’s resurrection, Jesus’ message of repentance and forgiveness would be preached in all the world.
Jesus not only gives us an outline of the Old Testament, he is giving us the big picture of the entire Bible. The Old Testament points forward to a Christ who will suffer, die and rise again. The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) tell the story of Christ’s birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection. The remainder of the New Testament (Acts to Revelation) recounts how Jesus’ followers took his message from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself while reading the Bible:
- What does this passage tell me about God and Jesus in particular? Since Jesus is the point of the Bible, this is the most important question we can ask while reading the Bible.
- How does this particular passage fit into the big story of the Bible?
Finally, this may sound obvious, but pray. Reading the Bible is not simply about applying the right technique. These are God’s living words spoken to us. Pray that God will open your hearts to understand the Scriptures just as Jesus did for His disciples.