The simple truth is this: our understanding of Jesus – who He was and what He was about – is directly linked to our understanding of the Old Testament! Jesus Himself said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35), echoing the message of Isaiah from 700+ years before: “the Word of the Lord will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
Further, Jesus declared, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I came not to abolish them, but to fulfill them!” (Matthew 5:17). The life, death, resurrection, and purpose of Jesus’ advent into the world are all only fully realized within the context and understanding of the Jewish Bible – namely the Old Testament!
Also, if we are following Jesus – that is to say, if we are following His example, wanting to live like Him, do the things He did, etc. – then we can simply observe His behavior to see the enormous value of the Old Testament to our lives.
The Old Testament was the Bible that Jesus
- meditated upon,
- quoted in times of anguish and temptation,
- prayed back to God,
- discussed with His friends,
- sang in worship to God,
- respected as the authority of His life,
- commemorated with feasts, festivals, rituals, and celebrations…
His weekly and annual calendars were determined by it. He lived in accordance with it, referred to it constantly… It was in every sense (and then some!) the functional, working, applicable “Word of God” for Jesus that the complete, 66-book, combined Old & New Testament Bible on my bedside table is for me today!
As followers of Jesus, it is essential for us to understand that the OT and the NT are inseparable. They are one volume – one book – one story – one continuous unbroken narrative of God’s redemptive work among mankind. They are Act I and Act II of the same play.
The NT is not the just an Epilogue to the OT, or the lost “alternate ending” in the “Director’s Cut” of the OT. It is the continuation of the story of God’s redemption of creation back to Himself. The original story never stopped, and it didn’t need to be replaced by a new, different, plot-altering sequel. The NT – and indeed, the Person of Jesus – is the beautiful culmination and satisfaction of every bit of the OT.
Dr. Sandra L. Richter, professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary writes this:
Two-thirds of our redemptive history as Christians is in the Old Testament! And the Church’s lack of knowledge of this heritage renders much of the wealth of the New Testament inaccessible to them. The end result? The Church does not know who she is, because she does not know who she was.
What do you think? Does the OT have any relevance in your life today as a 21st-century follower of Jesus? If so, please describe. If not, why do you think that is?