“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel….” (II Timothy 2:8)
Asking thoughtful believers why they are so dadburn confident of the truth of Jesus Christ will result in a hundred different answers.
My pastor says for him, it’s the Lord’s resurrection. It’s as historically verifiable as anything in ancient times and perhaps more. And if Jesus rose, then He’s still alive and how good is that!
In a recent blog here, I said that to me the scriptures “fit” and just “feel right,” providing the number one assurance for this country boy. I recognize the arbitrary and subjective nature of that, but there it is.
Other reasons believers give range from the archaeological evidence to the miracles they’ve experienced or their grandma’s testimony.
But there’s something else that looms large in my mind, a fact that dominates almost everything else.
The continuity of the scriptural revelation is one of the great, undeniable miracles of history and provides an incredible reason to believe in Jesus Christ and all He taught.
All through the New Testament, from the Lord Jesus through the apostles and beyond, various speakers/writers would tie their comments to the ancient message from Genesis to Malachi. “This is that of which the prophet spoke,” they would say.
What God did in Jesus was a new thing, but in many respects not new at all. He had been saying He was going to do this in a hundred ways for 1500 years.
The story of God’s salvation stretches from the Creation down to the cross where He fulfilled His promises and the prophecies of the ages in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That as much as anything is what settles it for me. This revelation is all a unit.
Had this simply been a story about Someone suddenly appearing in the first century and doing the things Jesus did–everything from the conception to the Virgin Birth on through His sinless life, vicarious death, and physical resurrection–as though in a vacuum, nothing preceding and no context whatsoever, we might be justified in dismissing this as just another ancient myth created because people wanted to believe so badly.
This story is different.
In fact, it’s as different as it’s possible to get.
Nothing in the Bible puts forward the continuity of this revelation as well as The Book of Hebrews does.
The theme of the New Testament book of Hebrews is simple: Jesus Christ is better than anything you gave up to get to Him!
Jesus is superior to all the rituals and rites of the Old Testament period because He is their fulfillment. The anonymous author says Jesus is a better messenger than the angels, a greater high priest than the other one, His rest is better than what was offered or experienced in olden times, we have a mightier priest than Melchizedek, and we have a higher, stronger, better covenant than the old one. Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all time in contrast to the endless bloody slayings conducted by the temple priests.
Those priests’ work was never done, but when Jesus had made atonement for all, He sat down (Hebrews 10:12). He did it once, got it right, and sat down.
Gotta love it.
The entire Old Testament system was “a shadow of the good things to come” but definitely “not the very form of those things” (Hebrews 10:1).
Would you rather have the promises or the fulfillment? (To be sure, some prefer the love letters and emails between them and their sweetheart to the actual face-to-face coming together, for a thousand reasons. But everything about that is sad.)
How’s this for mixing our metaphors? According to Hebrews, our Lord Jesus is the temple, the altar, the sacrifice, the priest, everything pertaining to our salvation! It all speaks of Him and testifies to Him. The Bible calls Jesus our Passover!
Jesus told the religious authorities who were having insurmountable difficulties coming to terms with His claims, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
How stunning is that. Instead of soft-pedaling His claims, He doubles them!
In so few words, the Lord Jesus ties Himself in with the patriarch himself and then makes Himself the object of Abraham’s faith.
Jesus told his audiences, “Search the scriptures…for it is these that bear witness of me” (John 5:39).
And that’s the point I’m trying to make today.
No one who reads the entire Bible with an inquiring mind and open heart can fail to make the connection—that from one end to the other of the Scriptural revelation, it was all about Jesus Christ.
And so as the Christmas story begins to unfold, the angel appears to Joseph in a dream. “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take unto you Mary as your wife. For that which has been formed in her is of the Holy Spirit.” He added, “This is what the Lord was saying when He spoke through Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive….'” (Matthew 1:18-25).
No one can fully understand the New Testament without reading the Old. No one can properly appreciate the Lord Jesus without a familiarity with the Old Testament. No one can begin to grasp the great thing the Father was doing in Jesus without knowing the teaching and preparation God had done leading up to His appearance.
Paul said to King Agrippa, “This thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).
Indeed. Not in a corner and not in a moment did God do this wonderful thing.
Jesus is the climax and the heart of the story, but He is not all of the story.
People keep trying to take Jesus and leave the rest of the story. Some want the Old Testament religion without Jesus while others want Jesus without the Old Testament preparation and the New Testament aftermath.
But He refuses to play either game.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” He said. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Take Jesus out of the story and it’s an empty shell, devoid of all life. What you have left are the rules and rituals without the reality, the shadows without the substance, the prophecies without their fulfillment.
Try to keep Jesus but to strip the story of the Jews, the church, the persecution, the missionary advance, and the apostles’ teachings and that will not work either.
It’s all a seamless whole. It all bears witness to the living God, the loving Christ, the eternal plan and purpose which was in His heart from the beginning.
That’s what I believe and it’s why I believe.
The good thing about that is that we who believe this have plenty of company. Millions upon millions believe Jesus Christ was the One God had been preparing Israel for over those centuries, and they find Him in a thousand details throughout those Old Testament writings.
I find that absolutely delightful and comforting beyond words.