One Year of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament
We tend to look to the New Testament to tell us about Jesus, yet it was the Old Testament about which Jesus said, "the Scriptures point to me!" In Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament, Nancy Guthrie takes readers from Genesis through Malachi shining the light of Christ on the promise of a descendent who will put an end to the curse of sin, the story of a father who offers up his son as a sacrifice, the symbol of a temple where people can meet with God, the prophecy of a servant who will suffer, the person of a king who will rule with righteousness—and so much more. Day by day throughout the year, readers will see the beauty of Christ in fresh new ways, creating a deeper understanding and appreciation for who Jesus is and what he accomplished through his Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection.
Q&A with Nancy
Most people turn to the New Testament to read about Christ, so how do we discover Jesus in the Old Testament?
The Old Testament is filled with people, patterns, symbols, and stories that point to Christ. In fact, without the light that Christ shines on the Old Testament, it is an unfinished story, an unfulfilled promise. Unless we read the Old Testament through the lens of Christ, we simply can’t understand how God can be just and yet extend mercy to sinners. Without Christ, we can’t understand how God will be able to bring sinners into his holy presence. Christ answers the questions, resolves the tensions, and is the substance behind the symbols of the Old Testament.
What prompted you to devote nearly a year to putting together The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament?
A while ago I became captivated with the scene Luke writes about in chapter 24 of his Gospel. Two disciples were on the road to Emmaus, devastated that the one they thought was the promised Messiah had been crucified. Jesus came and walked beside them and expressed a little frustration that these two Jewish followers who would have grown up being trained in the Torah had not understood from the Old Testament that the Messiah would suffer before he was glorified. Luke writes that, "Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:25-27)." When I read this I want to say, "Luke, don’t stop there!" I wish he had recorded the details of this entire conversation, because I would love know exactly what Jesus pointed to in Genesis and Leviticus and Psalms and Jonah and Hosea and the rest of the Old Testament and said, "This is about me...This is about the curse I came to bear...This is about the mercy I came to lavish on sinners...This is about the sufficiency of my salvation...This is about my deliverance from slavery to sin...This is about the judgment that was poured out on me at the cross..." The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament reflects my own journey through the Old Testament to seek to discover what Jesus might have pointed to on that day to help them to understand clearly who he was and what he came to do.
For many people, this is a new way of reading and understanding the Old Testament. Is this the way you have always understood it?
Not at all. I was that little girl who always had all the answers growing up in Sunday School. But for most of my life, I’ve seen the Old Testament as a series of stories about people who provided examples of how to live or how not to live the life of faith. Only in recent years have I begun to understand that the Bible is one story of God’s accomplishing redemption through Christ. Honestly, writing this book was my way of re-orienting the way I have found instruction and hope in the Old Testament. I worked my way through the Old Testament asking how each passage pictured Christ’s person or work or pointed to a need that only he would meet.
What was the process like for you?
The study for and writing of this book has been a profound learning experience that has left me well aware of how much more I have to learn. But it has been much more than a process of academic discovery. It has inspired me to worship. Over and over again I found myself at my computer moved to tears and brought to my knees by a fresh glimpse of the grace of God in Christ pictured in Old Testament figures and events. For example, while working on this book I first saw the connection between the thorns introduced as part of the curse in Genesis 3 and the thorns pressed into Christ’s brow at the crucifixion. What a sovereign God we serve that even in this painful detail of Christ’s experience we would see that God was accomplishing his plan first articulated in the Garden—that Christ would take upon himself the curse of sin.
The Old Testament provides vivid pictures of the person and work of Christ that help us to see it from a different angle. As we imagine Abraham’s agony as he walked up the mountain preparing to offer up Isaac, we sense the cost the Father paid who "gave his only begotten son." When we read David’s psalm imploring God to wash away his sin and make him clean, we can’t help but worship the Christ whose blood makes forgiveness available to sinners who don’t deserve it.
What have been some of your sources as you’ve put together The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament?
I’ve listened to and read dozens and dozens of sermons by men who capably preach Christ from the Old Testament such as Tim Keller, Bryan Chapell, Sinclair Ferguson, and Ed Clowney, and used commentaries by those who are adept at presenting Christ from the Old Testament such as Philip Ryken, Kent Hughes, and Iain Duguid. I’ve also been helped tremendously by books such as Clowney’s The Unfolding Mystery, Christopher Wright’s Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament and Gospel & Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy.
What do you hope the readers of The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament will take away from it?
I hope it will do for them what it has done for me. I have stood back in wonder at the magnificence of God’s plan for redemption and at his providence and power that are accomplishing that plan. As readers see how the Old Testament prepares us for the person and work of Christ, I hope they will move closer to worshiping him according to his marvelous and matchless worth.