In Luke’s account of the gospel, after Jesus’ resurrection, he is walking along the road with two of his disciples. There was something about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances which was different. He was human, and not a ghost, he did eat fish. And they could touch the nail prints on his hand. But in his resurrection body, pre-glorification, he did not look quite the same. In the breaking of the bread the disciples eyes were opened, and then he vanished.
But before that he told them that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. That the scriptures indeed had foretold that. And so from Moses through the Prophets he began to teach them how this was so. After their eyes had been opened, and he had vanished, the disciples noted how their hearts had been burning in them, as he had explained all of this to them.
Predictive prophecy used to be hot, popular among at least evangelical Christians and I imagine still is in some quarters. After all, there are quite notable examples, as from the psalm, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” which begins, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Luke Timothy Johnson in a most excellent book on Luke and Acts notes that for most Christians today, that is no longer the case. What will hold water now is how the story is fulfilled in Jesus. How it was all pointing to that fulfillment of a Spirit-filled prophet like Moses, indeed more than a prophet, but the promised one to come, the Messiah. Who would fulfill all of God’s promises, bringing in the beginning of that fulfillment, to be worked out in greater measure through the Spirit in the church for the world.
That is one important aspect of understanding scripture. It needs to be read through Jesus, through his coming and fulfillment. Israel is a key, often neglected, and all of this needs to be seen through God’s calling to Israel, their failure, and what occurred afterward. This was all the setting, one might say what was set up, when Jesus came.
It is not as neat as simply finding a bunch of verses scattered here and there which find their fulfillment in Jesus. There are notable sections, perhaps the most notable, Isaiah 53, which can readily be seen as being fulfilled by Jesus. But by and large that approach is scattered with bits and pieces. Certainly having great value. But of even greater value is seeing how the story begins, unfolds, and how Jesus enters into that and begins to bring it all together. But in ways which seem contrary at times, since so much was fulfilled or finished in him. Stephen’s message in Acts 7 before he was stoned is a version of this.
And so we begin to understand how Jesus fulfills all of scripture, how he fills out the story, a story we in him are in now, the fulfillment continuing in Jesus through us for the world.
Today’s hurried post under the influence of Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church: The Challenge of Luke-Acts to Contemporary Christians, by Luke Timothy Johnson.