Years ago, Todd came across an interesting tool to share the gospel. On the cover, it looked like a regular coloring book, but there were three different types of pages inside: blank, white pages, black and white outlines of pictures, and vibrant, full-color pages. The secret was where you held your fingers when you flipped through the book. I don’t remember all the details of how he used it, but it always amazed the kids.
That coloring book reminds me of how God uses scripture to reveal Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds to understand it, the Bible is a blank slate without any meaning at all. The Old Testament is like those black and white pages; we see the outline of the coming Messiah through the prophets’ words and God’s dealings with the children of Israel. But when we get to the New Testament, we see Jesus, who reveals God to us in all His glory. What is only a shadow or outline in the Old Testament is vibrantly and clearly displayed when the Son of God comes into our world – Emmanuel, God with us!
In John 5, Jesus confronts His listeners with reasons why they should believe He is the Son of God, sent by the Father. They have John the Baptist’s testimony, an obvious prophet sent by God. They have the testimony of the miracles He is performing, an obvious supernatural work that only God could do. And most powerful of all, they have all the Old Testament scriptures that testify about Him. Unfortunately, those with hard hearts were unwilling to accept these witnesses.
John 5:39-40,45-57 – You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. … Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father, the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
Moses was the most revered prophet for the Jewish people. This is why the Pharisees held so tightly to the Law. Moses was considered to speak for God, and his words were to be obeyed without question. In challenging their understanding of Moses, Jesus confronted the very core of their belief system.
Where did Moses write about Jesus? What is Jesus referring to when he says the scribes, priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees should recognize Him easily if they truly accepted Moses’ testimony?
The outline, or shadow, of Jesus is all throughout the Old Testament scriptures. Because God knew Jesus, everything He did, from establishing the Law and sacrificial system, from the miracles that occurred in the presence of the Israelites, to the multiple events that were a “type” of the coming Messiah, to the many references describing Him in the words of the prophets – all of it was given so that “in the fullness of time,” when Jesus came, they would recognize Him.
Here are just a few ways Moses will accuse those who claim faith in his words but reject Jesus:
- The animal sacrifices were a shadow of Christ, especially the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) and the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12).
- Jesus is the Bread from Heaven, the eternal manna (John 6:51) that satisfies our spiritual hunger and gives us life.
- Like the water that sprung from the rock, Jesus is the living water (John 7:37) that satisfies our spiritual thirst.
- Like the snake in the desert that was lifted up that those who were bitten by deadly snakes could look upon and be saved, Jesus was lifted up so that we who have been bitten by Satan in our sin can look upon Jesus and be saved from spiritual death. (John 3:14-15)
- Like the rock that was struck the first time, but should never be struck again, Jesus suffered once for all. (1 Peter 3:18)
- Jesus is the offspring of the woman spoken of in Genesis 3 that would crush the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15)
- Jesus is the beloved Son, the lamb provided by God Himself, as pictured in the life of Isaac when Abraham took him to the mountain, willing to sacrifice him in obedience to God (Genesis 228).
- Jesus is the fulfillment of the life of Joseph, which foreshadows Him being the beloved Son, being envied by His own, begin rejected by His own, cast down into the pit, resurrected, sent to a distant country where He became lord of all, and who then provided salvation for His own.
- Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8; Revelation 5:5)
- The promised land (God’s rest) was a shadow of salvation (Hebrews 4)
- High priests were a shadow of Christ as our High Priest (Hebrews 5)
- The tabernacle was a shadow of the tabernacle in heaven, where Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 8)
While all of the Old Testament testifies about Jesus, some Bible scholars suggest that Jesus was likely referring to one specific prophecy of Moses as the clearest reference to the Messiah.
Deuteronomy 18:17-19 – The LORD said to me, “They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.
Those who knew the Old Testament scriptures had no excuse for rejecting Jesus. God had given substantial proof they should have recognized as fulfilled in the Son of God standing right in front of them. What kept them from seeing? It wasn’t a lack of evidence; it was a hard heart. They were unwilling to come to Jesus, and they missed out on the eternal life He offered.
How about us? Do we look at the Bible as a blank slate (nothing to see here, folks!). Do we have a general outline of who God is, but are missing all the details and vibrancy of a personal relationship? Or are we living in the full color of salvation, anticipating eternal life and the glorious return of the One who makes it possible?
Ask God for eyes to see and a heart willing to receive the truth. He has promised to answer that prayer.