Despite what some preachers may tell you these days, you cannot unhitch the New Testament from the Old Testament. Today’s Bible reading demonstrates this fact.
John the Baptizer was Jesus’ cousin. Luke recorded Jesus’ baptism in Luke 3:21-22. But just before baptizing Jesus, Dr. Luke referred to Isaiah’s prophecy, saying that someone would come, announcing the Messiah’s birth (Isaiah 40:3-5). I don’t know if John realized he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy or not. I don’t know how aware he was of his situation, but he did make mention of Jesus being the Lamb of God Who takes away the world’s sins. (John 1:29)
Anyway… when John’s disciples come to Jesus asking if He is the One they’re waiting for, Jesus refers back to Isaiah 61 — the very passage He had read from when the synagogue officials handed Isaiah’s scroll to Him in Luke 4!
“The Spirit of the Lord God is on
me,because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn.” Isaiah 61:1–2 (CSB)
Jesus responds, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news,” Luke 7:22 (CSB)
Reading Isaiah’s prophecy and Jesus’ response to John’s disciples side-by-side, you cannot deny that Jesus is applying Isaiah to Himself: good news, healing, and liberty.
After John’s disciples leave, Jesus refers back to Isaiah 40, telling the crowd that John’s was the voice that cried out in the wilderness:
A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain. And the glory of the Lord will appear, and all humanity together will see it, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 40:3–5 (CSB)
Yes, John’s was the voice that Isaiah said would cry out in the desert, urging everyone to prepare for the Messiah’s arrival. And Jesus was the Messiah!
Have you had trouble understanding the Old Testament? Have you struggled to figure out how the two Testaments fit together, if at all?
I can tell you that I’ve been there and I’ve done that. I have questioned why Christians even need to read the Old Testament. But not
Listen to Jesus. Listen to Peter. Listen to Paul and the other New Testament writers. The words of the Prophets and the words of the Psalmists roll off their lips. They knew their Bible. And their Bible was what we call the Old Testament.
As you read through the New Testament this year, don’t gloss over the references back to the Old Testament. When you read the Old Testament, ask yourself, “Where is Jesus in this passage?” If you look a little closer, you’ll see Jesus on every page of the Old Testament. And you’ll find the Old Testament quoted or alluded to over and over again in the New Testament. It’s as if God planned it all along!
The Old Testament. The New Testament. It’s all part of One Big Story: The relentless pursuit of God for His people in a covenant relationship.
Don’t read the Bible, trying to unhitch it from its overall context. It wasn’t written that way! If your Bible has cross-references, use them to see how God interweaves His Word with His Word. You’ll be amazed
This devotional was originally published July 5, 2019.