Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Advent 2023 Devotional: “Immanuel, Jesus with us.”

“Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:27

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have eternal life.” John 5:39-40
“Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning with this Scripture (Isaiah 53:7-8) he told the Eunuch the good news about Jesus.” Acts 8:35

If the verses above weren’t clear enough, when we read the Old Testament, we need to be seeing Jesus!  Jesus permeates every page in the Old Testament because the Old Testament is the story of Jesus’ life, work, death, and victory.  Whatever happens in those pages is just pointing us to Jesus.  So much so that a Church Father, Melito, says this about Jesus in the Old Testament:

“Jesus is the one who was murdered in Abel, tied up in Isaac, exiled in Jacob, sold in Joseph, exposed in Moses, slaughtered in the lamb, hunted down in David, dishonored in the prophets.” -Melito of Sardis (died in 180 AD) “On the Pascha”

We could note by this that Jesus doesn’t just make a scattered appearance here and there, but every word in the Old Testament, the entire plotline, is about Jesus Christ and that Jesus is personally present in all these characters.
But we often don’t read the Old Testament with that kind of viewpoint in mind.  We need Christ to open them for us.

So, for this Advent, we will be taking a deeper look into the Old Testament and finding Christ our Lord in its pages.  This is rewarding because as you find and discover our Lord Jesus in the pages of the Old Testament, you start to feel like you know him more.  So, when you read the Gospels you feel that joy as you recognize him and watch as the Disciples find out about him, too.  
Jesus pops up in many and different ways in the Old Testament, and while we cannot explore every single instance, we can employ different tools that you can use to find him anytime he is in the text.  We will look at four main ways that Jesus appears:

Jesus appears in the Promises that God makes in the Old Testament.  Eve is promised a Son.  Abraham is told that he will have a descendant that will bless the whole world.  David is told that a Son of his will sit on the throne forever.  All of these promises begin to mount up and we begin to see the work that Jesus will come to fulfill and do.
Another way that we will find Jesus is in the People/Places of the Old Testament.  Suddenly Isaac, David, Jonah, the sacrifices, and even the Temple become Christlike and point us to someone who will be like them but greater.

The Psalms are the third way that we will look for and find Jesus.  The psalms are the prayers of Jesus Christ and so all of them take dimensions of the work and life of Jesus Christ.  So powerful are these psalms that the New Testament quotes a Psalm each time Jesus fulfills something about himself.
And finally, Jesus himself is Present in the Old Testament.  The Son of God has always existed, and as John 1 makes clear, anytime anyone saw or heard God, they were seeing the Second Person of the Trinity who has taken on flesh.  So who was the fourth person who was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, who looked like the Son of God?  Who is this mysterious Messenger of YHWH who comes and talks and touches the prophets?  It is no other than Jesus of course! It is a joy to realize that Jesus himself, before he took on human flesh, interacts and enters into our story and shapes it with the cross and resurrection.

Each week you will take a look at a specific moment where the Old Testament gives us the Presence, Promise or Person of Jesus.  He is on every page of the Old Testament, so these following examples are not exhaustive.
God’s blessings to you in Jesus Christ as you go through this devotion for Advent!  Keep an eye out for Christ our Lord!

In Christ,

Pastor Andrew Belt

Devotionals will post daily on our blog Monday - Friday from November 8-December 24.