Advent Reflection: The World’s Greatest Bible StudyDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Every time I read the story of Jesus’ encounter with two of his followers on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, I am struck by verse 27. Admittedly, it’s not the climax of this passage. That comes later, when Jesus makes himself known through breaking and offering bread. But, verse 27 kindles in me a deep longing to have been present on the road to Emmaus.
Why? Because this verse describes what just might be the world’s greatest Bible study. I’ve been a Christian for almost five decades. During this stretch of time, I have participated in literally thousands of Bible studies. Some have been tedious; others have been exciting. But I cannot imagine a more engaging, life-transforming Bible study than the one described in Luke 24:27: “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Wouldn’t you like to have been there for that Bible study? How amazing to have listened to Jesus explain how the Old Testament writings pointed to him.
Though you and I weren’t present for that Bible study, Luke’s description of it reminds us that we will only understand Jesus when we see him in light of the Old Testament. To be sure, certain prophecies point directly to Jesus and his mission as God’s Messiah. But, in fact, the whole Old Testament sets the stage for Jesus. Thus, if we want to know him more truly, we would do well to make studying the Old Testament a priority for our lives.
In the season of Advent, we are informed especially by Old Testament passages that speak of Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s kingdom and his Messiah. For example, we are stirred with hope by the prophetic words of Isaiah:
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. . . .
He will give justice to the poor
and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
He will wear righteousness like a belt
and truth like an undergarment.
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD.
In that day the heir to David’s throne
will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
and the land where he lives will be a glorious place. (Isaiah 11:1-10)
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of a Bible study you experienced that was particularly great? What made it great? In what ways has your knowledge of the Old Testament helped you to understand Jesus and his mission?
PRAYER: Gracious God, as I read the story of the walk to Emmaus, I feel a longing to have been present for Jesus’ “Bible study” with his two followers. I realize that I ache to know Jesus more truly and fully. I don’t want to be satisfied with what I’ve discovered so far. I want to continue to learn and grow throughout my life.
Help me, I pray, to study your Word with diligence and faithfulness. Teach me through your Spirit, so that I might discern what is true. Correct me where I have fallen into misunderstanding. By your grace, may my study of Scripture lead me into a deeper relationship with you, so that I might walk faithfully as your disciple. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.