Written by A. M. Hodgkin
On the glorious resurrection morning Mary went to seek for Jesus. She sought Him in the tomb, but He stood beside her. She thought He was the gardener, but the one word, “Mary,” revealed to her her Savior.
As we read some passage in the Old Testament how often our eyes are halfway open, and we see only the earthly form: we see Aaron the priest, or David the shepherd, or Solomon the king; but if, like Mary, we are really seeking the Lord Jesus, He manifests Himself to us through the outward type, and we turn in glad surprise, and, looking up, say, “Rabboni” (lit. my great One).
As we continue to seek, we find Him in the least expected places of the Old Testament, until the whole grows luminous with the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. “In the volume of the book, it is written of Me.” All the lines of history and type, of Psalm and prophecy, converge towards one center –Jesus Christ, and to one supreme event. His death on the Cross for our salvation. And from that center again all the lines of history in the book of Acts, of experience in the Epistles, and of prophecy in Revelation radiate out once more to testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
After His resurrection our Lord not only “opened the Scriptures” to His disciples, but also “opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.”
…And He is ready to do the same for us.
The same Holy Spirit who moved holy men of old to write the Scriptures, is close at hand to make the words life to our souls, by taking of the things of Christ and revealing them unto us.
The Testimony of Christ to the Scriptures
“Abraham rejoiced to see My day.” “Moses wrote of Me.” “David called [Me] Lord” (John 8:56, v. 46; Matt. 22: 45). We have in these words of our Savior abundant authority for seeking Him in the Old Testament, and also a confirmation of the truth of the Scriptures themselves. To those of us who believe in Christ as truly God, as well as truly Man, His word on these matters is authoritative. He would not have said, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day,” if Abraham had been a mythological character; He would not have said, “Moses wrote of Me,” if the Books of Moses had been written hundreds of years later; nor would He have quoted from the 110th Psalm to prove that David called Him Lord, if that Psalm had not been written till the time of the Maccabees.
With regard to our Lord’s reference to the Books of Moses, the testimony is peculiarly emphatic. It was no mere passing reference to them. The whole force of the argument again and again lies in the fact that He regarded Moses, not as a mere title by which certain books were known, but as personally the actor in the history which they record and the author of the legislation which they contain. “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” (John 7: 19). “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?” (John 5:46, 47). He condemned the traditions with which the Pharisees overlaid the laws and teaching of Moses as “making the word of God of none effect” (Mark 7:13). To the leper He said, “Go thy way, show thyself to the priest,and offer the gift that Moses commanded” (Matt. 8:4). That command of Moses is found in the very heart of the priestly code which some would have us believe was framed centuries after the days of Moses.
From a careful study of the Gospels we cannot fail to see that the Old Testament Scriptures were continually upon Christ’s lips because always hidden in His heart. In the temptation in the wilderness He defeated the devil,not with any manifestation of His Divine glory, not by a power which we cannot wield, not even by His own words; but He fell back upon written words which had strengthened the saints of many ages, thus showing us how we also may meet and foil our great adversary. It is specially helpful to note that it is out of Deuteronomy that our Lord selects,”as pebbles from the clear brook,” His three conclusive answers to the tempter (Deut. 8:3, 13, 14,16). [this is important and interesting] For we have been told that this Book of Deuteronomy is a pious forgery of the time of Josiah, purporting to be written by Moses to give it greater weight in bringing about the much-needed reforms.
Would our Lord “who is Himself the Truth” have thus countenanced a book full of untruths, and have used it in the critical moment of His conflict with the devil?
And would not ” the father of lies” have known perfectly well if the book had been a forgery? When Christ commenced His public ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth with the words of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor,” He said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 9: 17-21). In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets: I am not come to destroy,but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you. Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-19).
In these days we have many books about the Bible, but very little searching of the Scriptures themselves. A careful study of what Jesus Himself says about the Old Testament Scriptures, asking for the light of the Holy Spirit upon the pages, would well repay the Bible student. Very few realize how abundant are our Lord’s quotations from the Old Testament. He refers to twenty Old Testament characters. He quotes from nineteen different books. He refers to the creation of man, to the institution of marriage,to the history of Noah, of Abraham, of Lot, and to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah as described in Genesis; to the appearing of God to Moses in the bush, to the manna, to the ten commandments, to the tribute money as mentioned in Exodus. He refers to the ceremonial law for the purification of lepers, and to the great moral law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” both contained in Leviticus. To the brazen serpent,and the law regarding vows, in Numbers.
We have already dwelt upon His threefold quotation from Deuteronomy. He refers to David’s flight to the high priest at Nob, to the glory of Solomon and the visit of the Queen of Sheba, to Elijah’s sojourn with the widow of Sarepta, to the healing of Naaman, and to the killing of Zechariah –from various historical books. And as regards the Psalms and the Prophetical writings, if possible the Divine authority of our Lord is yet more deeply stamped on them than on the rest of the Old Testament. “Have ye not read?” or “It is written,” is the ground of Christ’s constant appeal; “The Scripture cannot be broken,” “The Scriptures testify of Me,” “The Scripture must be fulfilled,” His constant assertion. Questioned concerning the resurrection, Jesus answered, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures. Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God,saying,I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac,and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead,but of the living.” Our Lord here attributes the skepticism of the Sadducees partly to their not understanding the Scriptures, He proves from the Bible the fact of the resurrection, and He asserts that the very words uttered by God are contained therein (Matt.22:29-32).
As He drew near to the Cross, our Savior’s testimony to the Scriptures has a still more sacred import. “Behold we go up to Jerusalem,and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished” (Luke 28:31). “For I say unto you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me,” And He was reckoned with transgressors: for that which concerneth Me hath fulfillment” (Luke 22: 37, R.V.). On the night of His betrayal, in the shade of Olivet, three times our Savior points to the fulfillment of these Scriptures in Himself (see Matt. 28:31, 53, 54; Mark 14:48, 49). Three of His seven utterances upon the Cross were in the words of Scripture,and He died with one of them on His lips.
But perhaps the strongest testimony of all which Christ bore to the Old Testament was after His resurrection.
On the very day that He rose He said to the two disciples going to Emmaus, “O fools,and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken ! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24: 25-27).
Not only did He sanction the Scriptures, but also that method of interpretation which finds throughout the Old Testament a witness to the Messiah of the New. Thus on the very first day of our Lord’s return He resumed His former method of instruction even more emphatically than before, proving His claims not so much by His own personal victory over death as by the testimony of the Scriptures. After this Jesus appeared to the eleven and said: “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,and said unto them: Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24: 44-46). Even those who would seek to place limits upon Christ’s wisdom and knowledge during His life on earth would surely not extend this to the period of His risen life. And it is during this period that He sets His seal upon the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, the threefold division of the complete Old Testament Scriptures according to the Jews, the very same Scriptures that are in our possession today.
But, lest even this should not be enough to confirm our faith, we are given in the Book of Revelation a glimpse of our glorified Savior, still “this same Jesus,” still quoting from the Scriptures, and still applying them to Himself. He says: “Fear not; I am the first and the last : I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:17, 18). And again: “He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Rev. 3: 7). Here He quotes from the two parts of the one Book of Isaiah, from chapter 44:6, which says: “Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel,and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and beside Me there is no God. . . .Fear ye not,” and from chapter 22: 22 : “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon His shoulder; so He shall open, and none shall shut; and He shall shut, and none shall open. –Truly the key “not only of life and death, but the key to the Scriptures” is laid upon His shoulder.
..and He still unlocks the meaning of the book to those who are humble enough for Him to unlock the understanding of their hearts.
About the author and part of your Christian heritage: A. M. Hodgkin (1860-1955) I have been able to discover nothing about the author, except that he was the editor of Friends Magazine, and lived East Sussex, England.