People who are simply curious about the Christian faith may wish to find out exactly what Christianity teaches. On the other hand, disciples of the Lord Jesus may look for words of encouragement or guidance in their daily readings. However, the most important thing for anyone to recognise about the Bible is that it consistently points to the Lord Jesus Christ. When this Christ-centred approach to reading the Scriptures is adopted, time spent studying God’s Word will be transformed. This article will attempt to outline some of the varied ways in which Scripture testifies to the Lord Jesus.
Of first importance is the need to justify the approach of looking for Christ in all the Scriptures, seeing that Jesus isn’t mentioned at all by that name in the Old Testament! Most significantly, Jesus Himself repeatedly affirmed that the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) spoke about Him (see Luke 24:44; John 5:39). This testimony alone is sufficient to warrant turning to all parts of the Bible with the aim of seeing what it says concerning the Son of God.
Following on from this, the early church clearly believed the Lord Jesus to be the fulfilment of Scripture as the writers of the New Testament constantly applied passages from the Hebrew Bible to aspects of the Lord’s Person and work. It is truly wonderful to see the innumerable occasions on which Christ fulfilled Scriptures written centuries before He came into the world.
Put simply, we cannot hope to understand the central message of the Bible if we don’t appreciate the One of whom it speaks. So let’s discover some of the many instances in which the Scriptures testify to Jesus Christ.
An obvious starting point is to consider the prophets of Israel. In his first epistle, Peter informed his readers that the theme of the prophets’ message was Christ’s suffering and subsequent exaltation (1 Peter 1:10-11). Indeed, every aspect of Christ’s mission of salvation was predicted by the seers. These men of God spoke about: Messiah’s virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), the ministry of His forerunner (Isaiah 40:3), His sinless life (Isaiah 53:9b), His atoning death (Isaiah 53:5-6), His burial (Isaiah 53:9a), His resurrection and ascension (Psalm 16:9-11; 68:18), the high priestly ministry He presently conducts (Psalm 110:4) and His glorious return at the end of the age (Zechariah 14:3-4).
A type is an Old Testament picture of the Lord Jesus Christ hidden in an episode from ancient history. It differs from an allegory in that types are drawn from real events rather than from figurative illustrations which are clearly not meant to be understood as historical.
A good example of a type comes from Jesus Himself. When speaking to Nicodemus, the Saviour referenced the episode where Moses was instructed by God to erect a serpent upon a pole; any Israelite suffering the effects of a deadly snakebite could look at the serpent and experience instant healing (see Numbers 21:4-9). Jesus said: “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). The historical event from Israel’s time in the wilderness beautifully illustrates what the Saviour would go on to accomplish at Golgotha, a God-given illustration of the atonement woven into the Bible many centuries before Christ gave His life as a ransom for many.
Numerous other types are cited in the New Testament.
Furthermore, whilst caution must be exercised, students of Scripture should be able to recognise types of Christ which are not directly referenced by the Lord Jesus or the apostles. For instance, the life of Joseph, who lived many centuries earlier, contains many parallels with the experiences of the Messiah.
The Theme of Salvation
From the moment of the Fall, God has been working towards the redemption of lost humanity. Anticipating ultimate salvation, deliverance of a temporary nature can often be observed in the Old Testament. For example, in the Book of Leviticus, a detailed explanation is given of Israel’s sacrificial system. This points forward to Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice upon the cross (see Hebrews 9:6-15; 10:1-4).
Despite being a very dark period in Israel’s history, the days of the Judges also point us to Christ and His salvation. These judges were actually referred to as saviours (see Judges 3:9,15; 10:1; Nehemiah 9:27). The kings of Israel often performed a similar function for God’s people, thus foreshadowing, however imperfectly, the ultimate Saviour.
In the Psalms, the godly often cry out for salvation and display complete confidence in Yahweh’s ability to deliver them from their enemies. Salvation is also an important part of most Old Testament prophetic books. Importantly, Old Testament authors demonstrated a faith which looked beyond their own situations and anticipated a future salvation of much greater magnitude than anything experienced up to that point in time.
In summary, the salvation described by these ancient Hebrew writings is in most instances of a temporary and incomplete nature, but anticipates a coming Deliverer who will fully and finally deal with the issue of sin and death.
Poetry and Wisdom Literature
The Lord Jesus recognised that He was fulfilling prophetic statements from the Psalms through His death (compare Psalm 22:1; 31:5 with John 19:28). Allied to this, the Book of Psalms contains many statements which the apostles recognised as being prophetic. Other Wisdom literature also vividly describes the Person of the Godhead we know as Jesus. For instance, Christ could well be seen in a passage of the Book of Proverbs where wisdom is personified (compare Proverbs 8:22-31 with Colossians 2:3).
However, a book like Ecclesiastes also points us towards the Messiah, albeit in a very different way. The Preacher explores various aspects of life “under the sun”, yet finds no satisfaction in anything. As the emptiness of this life is laid bare, the reader is forced to look away from the world and put their hope in what God will do instead; the sheer absence of fulfilment in this world forces the reader to contemplate the One who can truly satisfy. As for the Song of Songs, there are many commentators who feel that the descriptions of love contained within that book foreshadow the relationship between Christ and the church – although this is nowhere confirmed within the New Testament.
Without doubt, the Gospels are the section of the Bible which most obviously focus upon the Lord Jesus. There is barely a scene within the four Gospels which does not contain the Lord Jesus. Even on those few occasions when He is absent, Christ is the subject of the conversation. Each Gospel presents the Saviour in a particular light, whilst being in full accord with what is written in the other three.
Christ is portrayed in so many different ways throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. His deity is made explicit on many occasions, but it is His humanity which comes to the fore. In keeping with this, the Lord most frequently refers to Himself as “Son of Man” and is usually referred to by the narrators simply as “Jesus”. God’s nature is perfectly expressed in a way which is completely relatable to ordinary human beings.
Through the Saviour’s miracles, teaching, experiences and responses to others, the reader begins to build up a picture of His holy character. Yet each Gospel writer brings his biography to a close with the same climactic event: Christ’s sufferings on the cross and subsequent resurrection. The church would later on come to understand these events more perfectly, but even without any knowledge of apostolic teachings, readers are able to observe Messiah’s victory.
New Testament Doctrine
In the Epistles we discover the full flowering of Christian doctrine. God’s truths have been progressively revealed over millennia and come to be fully understood in the light of what the apostles taught through their correspondence.
However, doctrine is never presented to us simply for its own sake. God’s ultimate plan for His people is to conform them to the image of His Son (see Romans 8:29). Consequently, the practical truths of the New Testament letters set forth aspects of Christ’s own character for our personal edification. If in the Gospel records we find Christ identifying with us, then the teaching of the Epistles is that we must identify with Him.
The Gospels focus largely upon Christ’s humanity whilst the Epistles refer back to His first coming but reveal more of His present position in glory. What we find is that, whether by looking back to His sufferings or by contemplating His present glory, the Lord Jesus is the One to meet every need of the believer.
If asked about the reason why the apostle John should write the Revelation, many readers might suggest that it was written in order to provide a detailed account of the last days – a step-by-step guide as to how events will pan out in the future. This misses the main point of the book; the very first verse describes it as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” and the fact that the purpose of prophecy is always to point us to Him is confirmed later in the book (19:10).
Revelation portrays the Lord Jesus Christ as both glorified and victorious. Throughout the book, He is revealed to the reader through a succession of different titles. It is true that the most frequently used is “the Lamb” – a clear reference to His sufferings – but it is the triumphant Lamb, the One who destroyed the powers of evil through His death and resurrection, who dominates the narrative in this final book of the Bible.
In summary, it has been the aim of this brief study to demonstrate that Christ is the central theme of the entire Bible. It is hoped that readers will make the search for Christ in all the Scriptures a priority in their own study and that, by doing so, they will progress their transformation into His own image.
 See, for example, Matthew 4:13-16; 8:16-17; 12:15-21; John 19:23-24; Acts 2:25-36; 4:11,24-27; Hebrews 1:8-9; 10:5-7; 1 Peter 2:6-8.
 In the KJV and NKJV the word is translated as “deliverer”.
 See, for example, Psalm 2:7; 16:9-11; 22:18; 34:20; 40:6-8; 45:6-7; 68:18; 69:9; 110:4.
 See, for example, Revelation 1:5,13,17; 5:5-6; 12:5; 19:11,16; 22:16.