Luke 24:44-46 / The Entire Old Testament
"These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
Okay, so I'm not going to copy and paste the entirety of the Old Testament here.
Jesus is continually fulfilling Old Testament prophecies throughout the New Testament, whether explicitly as in our plēroō passages or implicitly. We also see throughout the New Testament that Jesus' disciples are continually failing to understand Jesus' actions and how they relate to the Scriptures. Peter tries to fight off the Romans and Pharisees with a sword, not knowing why his Lord must die.
But here in Luke 24, the risen Jesus lays it all out for his apostles. He had told them before that all the Scriptures must be fulfilled, and they did not understand or believe Him. Now, after His work on earth has been fulfilled, they are finally able to understand.
And Jesus does something very interesting here - He does not simply give them a list of prophecies and how they were fulfilled. Instead, He opens their understanding. This implies two things. First, that the apostles did not have the ability to understand all of these prophecies until that point (there’s reason to believe they understood some of them). Second, that these prophecies can be mentally comprehended.
This seems similar to the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, in that there is an intellectually component and a faith component. On one hand, there absolutely are rational arguments for Jesus being precisely who He said His is, as the eloquent defenses of apologists throughout history show us.
On the other hand, accepting Jesus Christ as who He says He is requires the opening of the heart to the truth. Pharaoh's heart was hardened, even after seeing display after display of the miraculous power of YHWH. Saul of Tarsus had his heart opened, despite his rigorous indoctrination into the intellectual system of the Pharisees.
As with all spiritual truths, the true interpretations of prophecy are not anti-intellectual. At the same time, they can only be truly grasped by the mercy of God in opening hearts and minds.
There is one other thing of note here. We divide the Scriptures into different categories: the law, the prophets, the poetry, history, etc. While there may be a genre divide between these sections, Jesus Himself says that parts of all are ultimately prophetic. Writings which on the surface seem to be descriptive of the life of David also point to the life of Christ. Kosher laws which seem to regulate the eating of food and the wearing of clothing also point to the purity of the coming Messiah.
Just as importantly, all of these things - "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" - are all ultimately about Jesus, not about describing the future. Daniel didn't say, "Hey Nebuchadnezzar, after your kingdom falls in such-and-such a year, there's going to be a Persian Empire starting on such-and-such a date, followed a Greek Empire started by a cool guy called Alexander, then a Roman Empire that will have dapper brush helmets, and then a Church that won't be a literal empire." Instead, he focused on the coming Messiah. Prophecy and Scripture are not for tickling ears, they're for preaching Christ.
Now all Christians understand that there are prophecies which have already been fulfilled and prophecies which are yet to be fulfilled. The first coming of the Messiah has been fulfilled, the second coming has not. Salvation has gone to the Gentiles, but the lion does not yet lie down with the lamb. Our many, many swords show no signs of becoming plowshares in the immediate future.
It is natural to want to know when these things will come to pass, not simply to satisfy human curiosity, but because they are the fulfillment of the deepest desires of the human heart. But the Scriptures say that only God can open the eyes of our hearts to fully comprehend the Scriptures.
The apostles had their eyes opened in this exact way. As we turn our eyes to the future, let us first look at how the apostles understood the past.
Next: [BTT044] Conclusions