Jesus Fulfilled Moses

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27).

Jesus presented the basic rule for studying the OT as He explained to the Jewish theologians, You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me (John 5:39).  This declaration of Jesus should cause one to seek Christ more diligently in the entire OT scriptures.  However while He walked this earth Christ guided His followers especially to the writings of Moses.  For example in John 5, after stating that the (OT) scriptures testify of Him, Jesus said, If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me (v 46). Again, in Christ’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the testimony of salvation is said to reside in Moses and the prophets. Note the priority of Moses. Then the parable concludes, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead (Luke 16:31).  In Sunday’s resurrection account Christ explained the necessity of His death and resurrection—beginning with Moses (Luke 24:27). Jesus consistently directed people to view the writings of Moses as the primary beacon illuminating Himself.

A central topic of Moses’ writings—and indeed of the entire Old Testament—is sacrifice.   If the OT is about Christ, and if sacrificial talk is foundational to these OT books, it would be strange indeed if this sacrificial talk were not about Christ.  Clearly the New Testament (NT) testifies that Christ is the person in the portrait painted by the OT sacrificial rites—rites ordained in Moses’ books, the Pentateuch.

As clearly attested in the NT, Christ had to be the ultimate sacrifice, thus fulfilling this central feature of the writings of Moses.  Appropriately John the Baptist introduced Jesus by declaring, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).  Christ-crucified is the world’s sacrifice. He is the sin offering, actually paying for sin. He is the burnt offering, establishing sanctification.  And His sacrifice creates the peace offering communion meal.  But what about Christ’s resurrection?

God’s Moses-ordained sacrificial system also taught resurrection.  It did this by the sacrificial blood.  Blood was always equated with the life of a creature (e.g. Lev. 17:11).  When that life-blood was neither burned nor eaten, but reverently placed on and around God’s altars, it conveyed the thought of continued life.  Yes the creatures were sacrificed, but their blood pointed to life after death.  Several scholars who have studied OT sacrifice have come to this conclusion.  One such scholar, S.C. Gayford, writes: The Hebrews regarded the life-blood almost as a living thing inside the body which it quickened; and not only was it the vitalizing life while it pulsated within the body, but it had an independent life of its own, even when taken from the body.  He Concludes:  ’Blood’ in sacrificial sense always means a ‘Risen’ life, one that has passed through death, but is alive. (Gayford, Sacrifice and Priesthood, 68, 170).   As another example, F.C.N. Hicks explains Christ’s work thus: The death is vital to the sacrifice, because it sets free the blood, which is the life.  But the victim is, in a true sense, operative, not as dead, but as alive ‘as it had been slain’... And again, “So St. Paul—brings out the backward look of death, as death, and the forward look of blood, as life—‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by His blood, shall we be saved…’ (Hicks, The Fullness of Sacrifice, 18, 243).

So is it incidental that when Jesus asks, Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory, He begins with Moses to explain this necessity?  Indeed not!  The entire worship system instituted by God through Moses was directing OT believers to ultimately recognize—when it arrived—the centrality of the cross and the empty tomb!  Now do something forbidden in OT sacrifice: drink His blood; miraculously drink His life in the Sacrament of the Altar, for He is risen indeed!