Read Luke 24:25-27.
Jesus spoke Luke 24:25-27 with emotion, expressing disappointment that the two disciples had failed to understand what the Scriptures had said. The combination of “foolish” (unwise) and “slow” describes their struggle to accept by faith what the Scriptures taught about the Messiah—the promised Deliverer who would rescue God’s people from bondage.
The reference to “Moses and all the Prophets” refers to the Hebrew Bible, what Christians today refer to as the Old Testament. During the time of Jesus, the Old Testament was read as “a story in search of a conclusion. This ending would have to incorporate the full liberation and redemption of Israel, an event which had not happened as long as Israel was being oppressed, a prisoner in her own land.” And so, the Jewish people were waiting for this conclusion that would be spearheaded by the Messiah. Essentially, without drawing attention to Himself just yet, Jesus said to Cleopas and the other disciple, “The crucified Messiah about whom you are confused is the One who brings the story of Israel to its completion, and all the Scriptures have been telling you so.”
Our challenge, then, as disciples of Jesus Christ is to read the Old Testament Scriptures in light of His death and resurrection. We can do this well by asking three questions every time we read a passage from the Bible that Jesus read.
First, does anything in this passage point directly to Jesus? There are a few places where the Old Testament speaks directly about the coming Messiah (ex. Gen. 49:10-12; Isa. 9:6; Mic. 5:2). Of course, direct prophecies of Jesus do not occur in every passage, but you will find them sprinkled throughout the Old Testament.
Second, does anything in this passage foreshadow or anticipate Jesus? In addition to direct prophecies, the Old Testament foreshadows Jesus in subtle, indirect ways. For example, knowing that the Gospel of Matthew begins by identifying Jesus as “the Son of David” and “the Son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1), we can look for ways that events in the lives of David and Abraham anticipate who Jesus is and what Jesus will do.
We see Abraham’s “sacrifice” of his son Isaac in Genesis 22 as foreshadowing the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God. We see Jesus’ love for His enemies (Rom. 5:8) anticipated by David’s love for Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9, as he was a potential enemy, being a descendant of King Saul.
Third, how does the gospel of Jesus shape my understanding of this passage? The Old Testament is full of wise sayings, principles, and commands. The apostle Paul makes it clear that these still have relevance for us as followers of Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17). But we can only understand how these wise sayings, principles, and commands apply to us and life properly when we read them through the lens of Jesus’ life and teaching. He came to bring the Old Testament to its complete expression (Matt. 5:17).
Then, once we figure out how an Old Testament command or principle applies to us, we can only carry it out in the power of the gospel. Yes, the good news that Jesus died and rose again shapes and empowers our obedience (see 2 Cor. 3:17-18; Gal. 2:14; Phil. 1:27; 2:12-13).
Jesus’ death and resurrection “stands in line with the great story of God working to redeem and restore his people to life in his presence, where true fullness and joy are found.” May we read the entire Bible with this grand story in our hearts and minds.
This article was adapted from The Gospel Project for Adults Fall 2017—The Risen King on the Emmaus Road. The Gospel Project takes adults, students, and kids on a chronological, Christ-centered journey through the storyline of Scripture. Preview four sessions free at gospelproject.com.