Christmas is a time of year that Christians become particularly interested in the Old Testament. To be sure, this is fitting. Before the coming of Christ, the people of God had only their Old Testaments. Before the coming of Christ, the people of God had only these grand promises—promises spectacular, yet still unfulfilled. The Old Testament, though God-breathed, was certainly incomplete, full of promises yet to be realized. But as soon as we turn the page to the New Testament, as we see Jesus Christ burst onto the scene, we begin to see the various strands of the Old Testament come together. Promise by promise, God begins to fulfill them all in one single individual.
As Jesus bursts onto the scene and proclaims John 5:39—“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me”—he is inviting us to re-read our Old Testaments in light of him. As the crucified and resurrected Jesus gives his disciples a Bible-reading lesson in Luke 24:27—“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”—he is inviting us, along with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, to re-examine our Old Testaments in light of him. Jesus is inviting us to see how, in the “definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23), the Old Testament is intentionally comprised of persons, events, and institutions that purposely prefigure the ultimate plans of redemption that will come in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Now that he is fully and finally here, Jesus is inviting us to see him foreshadowed and foretold on every page of the Old Testament.
So it makes perfect sense that Christians reacquaint themselves afresh with their Old Testaments every Christmas. It makes sense that we would rehearse the many promises made, so that they would be all the more clear when we realize that every promise made in the Old Testament becomes a promise kept in the form of a baby, born in a manger with the hope of the whole world on his shoulders. It makes sense that we would re-tell ourselves all the old, various stories, so that we might be rightly swept up in the great big story of Jesus Christ. As Sally Lloyd-Jones says in her introduction to The Jesus Storybook Bible, “There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly, you can see a beautiful picture.”
This Advent, we invite you to take up your Old Testament with us in order to see Jesus, the true and better fulfillment of every picture of redemption we see in our Bibles. We invite you to see Jesus as that missing puzzle piece of the Old Testament, and to see how he fits into every story, every scene, and every great and precious promise of the most magnificent book in creation. We’ll look at individuals, from Adam to Ezra; we’ll look at institutions, from the Passover to the priesthood; and we’ll see how every one of them is but a pointer to Jesus, the true and better fulfillment of all of the promises of God.
A special thanks is due to pastor and author Timothy Keller, whose brief snippet from a 2007 sermon is the impetus for this year’s devotional. In addition, we credit pastor Rich Lusk for his similar work on Jesus as the typological fulfillment of the Old Testament.