When faced with criticism from religious leaders of His day Jesus challenged them to take a fresh look at God's Word stating bold, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me
" (Jn 5:39). He then added, "
if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me." (Jn 5:46). Later on, following His resurrection Jesus took the time to correct some muddled thinking in two of His disciples by carefully reviewing passage after passage until they understood it had been prophesied that He must be crucified and rise from the dead (Lk 24:12-32). In fact, it was so important to Him that His disciples understand these things that moments before He ascended into heaven He gave them a final Biblestudy on the subject. And He didn't just draw His texts from an isolated verse or two. He took them through "
the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" (Lk 24:44-47). He wanted their faith firmly rooted in Scripture. His death had not been a sad accident of history, it was the center of God's plan to rescue people. It had been prophesied over and over: a Savior would come who would die and rise from the dead to pay for the sins of the world.
As we prepare our hearts to take communion today and to celebrate Christmas in a few weeks, let's do what Jesus commanded us. Let's search the scriptures for those ancient promises that God would send someone to die for us so our sins could be forgiven. Then let's take the bread and cup with fresh faith and thanksgiving that we can now know things that angels wonder at and great prophets longed to understand (1Pe 1:10-12).
A Survey of Promises
The Bible has been written over the course of 1,500 years and describes over 6,000 years of history. Portions have been written by numerous human authors yet there is a continuity of themes and cohesiveness which can only be explained by the fact that God is ultimately its author. Today we'll look at what some call the "scarlet thread" that runs through the entire book. Of course there are too many references to consider in one gathering so we'll ignore most; make a brief note of some; and highlight a few. Here is a selected list:
1. Seed of the Woman
a) Ge 3:15; Isa 7:14
b) Adam and Eve were promised that someday a Savior would come who uniquely arise from a woman's DNA not a man's.
2. Abel's sacrifice
a) Ge 4:4
b) the sacrifice that God was looking for would involve death, not gifts.
3. Seth/calling upon the Lord
a) Ge 4:16
b) people began to make a practice of confessing their sins and sacrificing an animal to come to God.
4. Abraham's ram in the thicket
a) Ge 22:8; Jn 8:56
b) God taught Abraham that He didn't want humans to die for sins but He would provide His own sacrifice for sin (His Son)
c) Mt. Moriah was the very place Jesus would be crucified over 2,000 years later.
a) Passover lamb Ex 12:12
Death would pass by those who by faith covered themselves with a special "lamb's" blood.
b) Manna from heaven Ex 16:4; Jn 6:32-40
The promised Savior would come down from heaven.
c) Strike the rock Ex 17:6; 1Co 10:4
There would only be one death for sin.
d) Covenant at Sinai Ex 24:6
Blood splashed on the altar and people.
The sacrificial death of the Savior would be brutal ("so be it to me if I should sin").
e) Mercy seat (Ex 25:17-22)
The cherubim marvel that it would be Yahweh's own blood that was shed for sins.
f) Scarlet cover over the tabernacle Ex 26:14
God's presence can't remain with us apart from this "covering" of blood.
g) Blood on priests and tabernacle Ex 29:20
People aren't fit to serve God without blood being shed for their sins.
h) Bronze altar Ex 27:1-8
Apart from a Savior's shed blood we cannot come near God.
i) Serpent in the wilderness Nu 21:9; Jn 3:14
This Savior would be treated by God as though He had committed our sins.
Each person must look to Him in faith for themselves.
6. David's Psalms
a) Ps 16:10, 11; Ps 22:1-22
Functioning as a prophet David saw his future "son" suffering on the cross.
The Messiah would arise from the family of David and would establish an eternal kingdom.
7. Isaiah's suffering servant
a) Is 52:13-53:12
b) A misunderstood and humble Savior would endure God's punishment for our sins. He would carry our sorrow, our sin and our sickness, die in our place and then rise again from the dead.
8. Daniel's encounter with Gabriel
a) Da 9:26
b) God showed Daniel that at a specific point in time Israel's Messiah would die and be abandoned. Thankful He also showed him the Messiah being given victory over His enemies and dominion over all humanity (Da 7:13, 14)
9. Micah's revelation of the Coming King
a) Mic 5:2,3
b) Micah was shown that divinity and humanity would be combined in the Messiah and that He would be born in the town of Bethlehem.
10. His last supper Lk 22:7-20
In handing them the bread and cup Jesus was explaining that He is that suffering Savior that God had promised over and over in His Word.
1) Which promise touches your heart most deeply?
2) Why do you think the disciples had such difficulty understanding that their Messiah must die first for sin before He will come in power?