If I were to ask you to begin telling me the story of Jesus, many of you would go straight to His conception and birth account found in the Gospels. This is a natural reaction and no one could blame you. However, the story of Jesus began long before the accounts found in the Gospels unfolded. Our knee-jerk reaction when we think about Jesus is to think New Testament but I want to begin showing you today that the Messiah’s mission is delineated from the first pages of the Old. Jesus knew this, and the authors of the Gospels through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wanted us to know this as well.
How do we know the Old Testament is the story of Jesus?
The simple answer is, because Jesus told us so in His Word. Jesus tells his audience in John 5.46, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of me.”
Twice, on Resurrection Sunday, Jesus connects the Old Testament with Himself. First, with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Then beginning with the Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24.27), and second, to all the disciples just before the ascension, “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled‘” (Luke 24.44).
Instead of presenting new revelation, He reasons with them from the past. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. Jesus, on at least three different occasions, links Himself to the Old Testament. In the Luke 24.44 passage we have all three divisions of the Old Testament included: the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Psalms. The entire Old Testament tells the story of Jesus.
The Beginning of Jesus’ Story: A Promised Blessing Born of a Woman
After Adam and Eve succumb to Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden God makes a specific promise to the serpent. God says to Satan, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Here we find the first mention of Jesus, the coming blessing, mentioned in Scripture.
It must have seemed odd at the time, given no one had yet to be born of a woman, but nonetheless, this was the predetermined and foreknown plan of God (Acts 2.22-23). The serpent and the Fall did not surprise God. The plan is singular. There was never another plan–never a plan B.
We know that as early as Genesis 5, just before the Great Flood, the future redemptive plan of God was understood by those who followed Him. Lamech gave his son the name of Noah and said, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed” (Gen 5.29). This is a direct reference to relief from the curse given in Genesis 3.
Now, Lamech misunderstood the “Who,” but he demonstrated understanding of the “How.” He understood the seed lineage and the blessing that God promised through One born of a woman (Galatians 4.4).
Verification of the Blessing
Lamech incorrectly indicated Noah would bring relief from the curse. While God allowed Noah to be an instrumental part of a major event in redemptive history, Noah could not bring relief from sin. He was a fallen human being just like you and I (Gen 9.20-23).
Hundreds of years and dozens of generations later as John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, a voice from the Father came out of heaven and said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Luke 3.22). This is the first time God could say this about a man since before the Fall. No man, no woman, no cute little baby, could ever please God. No one teaches us to sin–it’s inherent in our nature, and even the smallest and seemingly insignificant sins disqualify us from bringing relief from the curse. That sinless qualification also applied to Jesus.
Following a beautiful layout of the seed lineage back to Adam (Luke 3.23-38), Jesus is taken into the wilderness where Satan tempts Him beyond anything you or I could ever imagine. Just one mistake and Jesus could never be the head-crusher promised in Genesis 3. One bad day for Jesus, one off day, one little sin, and you and I would die without a Redeemer.
You see it was not just His death that made him the victor over sin, but the way He lived His entire life, never flinching in the face of temptation. This alone qualified Him to be the spotless Lamb of God, born of a woman, and the reliever of sin’s curse. What an awesome Savior!
Everything that happens from Genesis to Malachi prepares the way for our coming Savior. It’s the tale of the seed lineage promised in Genesis 3 unfolding before the reader’s eyes. The Old Testament is a vital part of the story of Jesus.
Next week we’ll take a look at the first time the word, “covenant” is used in Scripture. If you’d like to be notified by email when we post something I’ve written, check out our Subscribe page, and check the box by “Dr. Harris Publications.”
Dr. Greg Harris
Church: Teaching Pastor at Lake Hills Community Church
Education: B.A. Campbell University
M.A. NC Central University
M.Div Talbot Theological Seminary
Th.M Talbot Theological Seminary
Th.D Dallas Theological Seminary
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Author: The Cup and the Glory, The Darkness and the Glory, and The Stone and the Glory