By David Faust
Jesus’ first disciples were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures, but he taught with unparalleled authority and gave them new insight into the sacred texts. Then after he died and rose again, the compelling visual aid of Jesus’ resurrection must have taken his instruction to another level of impact. (One of my Bible teachers used to say, “Anyone who can rise from the dead is whoever he says he is!”)
Before ascending to Heaven, the risen Lord gave his disciples a final Bible lesson. He “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” and explained, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44, 45). The theme of the whole Bible comes together around the person and work of Christ—his sacrificial death on the cross, his victorious resurrection, his ongoing authority in the church. It’s no surprise that the New Testament tells about Jesus; but so does every section of the Old Testament, from the Law (the first five books of the Bible) to the history recorded by inspired prophets, to the poetry and wisdom literature collectively known as the Psalms.
Christ Foreshadowed in the Psalms
Written centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Psalms paint compelling pictures of the Messiah. Psalm 2 speaks about the Anointed One, the Son installed by God on his holy mountain (see Hebrews 1:5). Psalm 22 foreshadows Jesus’ suffering on the cross: his pierced hands and feet (v. 16), his gambled-over garments (v. 18), and his lonely cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 1).
The twenty-third psalm prepares us for Jesus’ assertion, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). Psalms 45:6 and 110:1 picture the Messiah royally enthroned at God’s right hand (see Matthew 22:41-46 and Hebrews 1:8), while Psalm 118:22 reminds us that the Messiah would be “the stone the builders rejected.”
The Messiah’s Ministry of Compassion
Portions of Psalm 146 almost sound like the four Gospels as they describe how the Lord cares for the poor, ministers to the downtrodden, and feeds the multitudes. “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free” (v. 7).
Psalm 146:8 says, “The Lord gives sight to the blind.” Did the disciples recall that psalm when they saw Jesus heal a man who had been blind since birth? When Jesus pronounced blessings on the poor in spirit and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, did they remember Psalm 146:8, which says, “the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous”? Did they recall “The Lord watches over the foreigner” (v. 9) when they watched Jesus interact with the Samaritan woman at the well and the Roman centurion whose servant was sick? When he blessed little children and commended the poor widow who gave her offering in the temple, did they recall Psalm 146:9, which says the Lord “sustains the fatherless and the widow”?
By looking closely, we can find Christ in unexpected places. He’s there throughout the Scriptures, including the Psalms and the rest of the Old Testament. And even when we feel downtrodden, hungry, lonely, and trapped, we can find him with us in our own times of need.
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
THELOOKOUT’s Bible Reading Plan for July 22, 2012
2 Thessalonians 1:1–7
2 Chronicles 17—19
2 Thessalonians 1:8–12
2 Chronicles 20, 21
2 Thessalonians 2:1–12
2 Chronicles 22—24
2 Thessalonians 2:13–17
2 Chronicles 25—27
2 Thessalonians 3:1–5
2 Chronicles 28, 29
2 Thessalonians 3:6–13
2 Chronicles 30—33