‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.’ (Matthew 1:1).
If you were writing a book about Jesus, how would you begin? Would you begin with a quote from Jesus? A story of his power? A call to believe?
Matthew begins his book, and the New Testament, by looking back. What a vital lesson this is for us. It can be easy for Christians, when reading the Bible, to completely neglect the Old Testament. And that’s understandable to a degree – the New Testament can often feel easier to apply. The intended audience is the first-century church, which is more immediately relatable than what is written to the pre-Jesus Jews.
But, as Matthew demonstrates, the Old Testament is critical to understanding who Jesus is. Without the covenants given to Abraham and David (and the others too) we would have an anaemic picture of Jesus. Our understanding of his mission, the Kingdom of God, sin, judgement, our future hope, and so much more would be greatly hindered, to our detriment. Without the Old Testament, we would have no idea what ‘Christ’ even meant!
But the other side is also true: without Jesus and the New Testament our grasp of the Old Testament would be incomplete. Without the ultimate son of David and Abraham, would we realise that the Old Testament was meant to be leading to an individual who would fulfil all the promises God had made? Would we realise that the promises related to descendants, blessing and land would all come to fulfilment and completion in one glorious person?
The design of the Bible is truly incredible. We need both the Old and New Testaments to truly understand the other, and to truly understand Jesus. Everything there points to him.