THE BIBLE IS ABOUT JESUS
- Pastor Mark Driscoll
- Luke 18:31–34
- June 05, 2011
Today we’re in Luke 18:31–34, where Jesus prophesies his death. As you’re finding that place, let me explain today’s sermon to you. It’s going to be a bit different. Some sermons, I’m trying to get your heart opened up to Jesus. Other sermons, I’m trying to get your hands to go serve Jesus. Some Sundays, I’m trying to get your feet to move in a particular direction on a mission. Other times, I’m trying to get your wallet opened up for the poor and for the church. And today, I really want your mind. Today is going to be more like a Bible college or seminary lecture. And the Bible does say we are to love God with all of our hearts, soul, mind, and strength. Today, we’re going to really focus on the mind. And I want to teach you and show you and hopefully help you believe some things about the Bible and to think in a way that is biblical.
Today Jesus has a very few short statements about this book. He’s going to talk about the prophets who wrote the Old Testament Scriptures and how his life is in fulfillment of this book. So today we’re going to talk a lot about the Bible and why we believe it, and why we trust it, and how we know that God, in fact, ultimately was the author of it. And so I don’t want to presume that you know a lot about the Bible. Many of you are Christians who have a good familiarity, but many of you are non-Christians, new Christians, or people who haven’t had a lot of teaching. For us, this is a book that is unlike any other book that has been written or will ever be written in the history of the world because this is the book that ultimately God wrote through human authors. We call that divine inspiration. And when it comes to the Scriptures, this is actually not just a book. This is a collection of books. This is a collection of books written over the course of about 1,500 years by some forty authors on some multiple nations and continents in three different languages. And so this is, in fact, a library. That’s what we are dealing with.
The word “Scripture” simply means writing. Bible means book. When you hear of the Holy Bible, it means the Holy Book. When it comes to the Scriptures, there’s the Old Testament leading up to Jesus, and then 400 years of silence where there was no prophecy or writing of Scripture, and then the coming of Jesus, which inaugurates the New Testament. That’s where we picked up the story over a year ago when we launched into the Gospel of Luke. A few facts: the Old Testament has 1,189 chapters in its thirty-nine books. Those chapters were added in the 1200s. There are 31,173 verses in the Old Testament. Those were added around 1551 to help find verses quickly, kind of like addresses we put on our home. That’s how chapter and verse work. So you’ve got books of the Bible like Luke, chapters, like today we’re in chapter 18, and you’ve got verses, so for example verses 31 through 34 are where we will be today. Proceeding to the New Testament, it’s much smaller than the Old Testament. The Old Testament’s about three-quarters of your Bible by length. The New Testament is about a quarter of your Bible by length. The Old Testament has thirty-nine books, the New Testament has twenty-seven books. The New Testament has 260 chapters and 7,959 verses.
THE BIBLE IS ALL ABOUT JESUS
And if you pick the Bible up, the question is, what’s it all about? All of these authors, nations, times, dates, places, hundreds of commands? Well, ultimately, it’s a Word from God. That’s why, when Jesus speaks of the prophets today, he is speaking of those who, in the Old Testament, said hundreds of times, “Thus saith the Lord.” They saw themselves, the authors of Scripture did, as literally messengers for God, giving a word to his people, commanding them to hear and obey, calling others to become his people by turning from sin and trusting in him. And so ultimately this is a book from God. And the question is, what’s the book about? What’s the book about? Is it about us and how we should live our life? Is it a book solely about history and nations? Is it a biographical sketch of major leaders in the history of the world and how they lived their lives and positive and negative moral examples we can obtain by evaluating their successes and failures? What exactly is the big idea, the primary purpose, the central message, of this library of sacred books? That’s exactly what Jesus tells us today. He tells us the purpose of his life is ultimately the fulfillment of this book. And so this book is about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus from beginning to end.
I’ll let you read it for yourself. Here’s exactly what Jesus says about his life and this book. Luke 18:31–34, “And taking the twelve,” those were his disciples, “he,” that is Jesus, “said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem,’” a very important city, “‘and everything that is written,’” there are the Scriptures, the writings. Again, Scriptures mean writings. “‘Written about the Son of Man,’” that’s about Jesus, “‘by the prophets,’” so there we have the authors of Scripture, “‘will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles,’” those are non-Jews, “‘will be mocked, shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.’ But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”
So Jesus here is telling us that his life is about this book, that the prophets who wrote the Scriptures were predicting his life, suffering, death, burial, and resurrection, that all of history, all of Jesus’ ministry, and all of these books in this Bible are ultimately about the person and work of Jesus Christ. And so we do not worship the Bible, but we worship the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we love and trust the Bible because it is the perfect and thorough recording of Jesus Christ predicted to come into history and the fulfillment of all that was promised.
JESUS ON A MISSION
Jesus says a few things here. Number one, he says that he is on a mission. And ultimately, Jesus’ mission culminated in Jerusalem. That’s exactly what Jesus said. He said, “It will be accomplished, all that is written.” And he said, “We are going up to Jerusalem.” When the Lord Jesus uses this language of going up to Jerusalem, that would have been common and familiar language. The most frequently mentioned city in the whole Bible is the great city of Jerusalem. It literally is a city on a hill. And so people speak, when they visit, of ascending or going up to Jerusalem, and those who would pilgrimage in the days of Jesus would literally sing their way up toward the great city of Jerusalem. It’s a city that is built essentially on rock. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it. In Jesus’ day, it was an enormous city. We learned earlier in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus was born in a small town called Bethlehem, that he grew up in a very small town called Nazareth, and that as a boy he was brought to the temple and dedicated in Jerusalem. He perhaps made other trips with his family. It is possible that they did not go to Jerusalem very often because they were quite a poor family. And so Jesus’ life was lived away from Jerusalem.
We learned in chapter 9:51 of Luke’s Gospel that, though Jesus became very popular with large crowds, preaching and teaching in this more rural area called Galilee, Luke 9:51 is very important to the storyline of the Gospel of Luke and the life of Jesus. It says, “He,” Jesus, “set his face” toward Jerusalem, that Jesus was, while on the earth, a man on a mission. And he was, as an adult male, making his final, epic journey to the great city of Jerusalem. And he’s on foot and this takes time and that accounts for much of Luke’s Gospel. The preaching, the teaching, the healing, the demon casting out, the prophesying that Jesus does is on his way to Jerusalem to ultimately fulfill, culminate his mission. And that is to go to the cross and atone for the sin of the world as our Savior, to substitute himself in our place, his life for our death.
All of this happens in Jerusalem. It’s exactly what Jesus is doing on his epic journey, his final pilgrimage to Jerusalem. And the centerpiece of Jerusalem was the temple. That’s why it’s often called the city of David. David was the one to whom God gave the initial command to have the temple constructed, though his son, Solomon, did oversee the construction of the temple. It was in that place that Abraham almost sacrificed his only son, Isaac. And Isaac willingly carried wood on his back to his place of potential death and he laid himself down willingly to die at the hands of his father. And just in the nick of time, the Bible records that the angel of the Lord appeared. I believe that was the Lord Jesus Christ before his birth to Mary. And said, “Do not sacrifice your son. It will be provided.” That ultimately Jesus would come, another son, to carry his own wood, his cross in that same region, to willingly lay down his life at the hand of his father, that that was all foreshadowing and predicting and anticipating what Jesus would do in that place. And so the temple was built literally upon that same place that Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, foreshadowing what Jesus would, many years later, ultimately accomplish.
The temple was the place that God’s people would gather for worship. It was the centerpiece to the nation of Israel. In the center of the temple was the Holy of holies, where the glory of God, the presence of God, literally dwelt among the people of God on the earth. And also there was the massive construction of this magnificent first and second temple. Also, there were priests who would offer sacrifices, showing that Jesus would ultimately come and shed his blood for our sin, as our sacrifice, paying our debt of death. The priests were all foreshadowing that Jesus would come as our great high priest. The temple was also foreshadowing that Jesus would come and be God among us, Emmanuel.
JESUS FULFILLS PROPHESY WITH HIS DEATH
As we read earlier in Luke’s Gospel that the presence of God would be in the person of Jesus Christ and the temple was the most sacred place. It was the connecting place between heaven and earth. It’s where people met with God and God met with people and God chose to dwell in glory there in the Holy of holies. And Jerusalem was built around the presence of God. Jerusalem was built around the temple of God and Jesus says that his mission will culminate in Jerusalem, where all that had been foreshadowed, all that had been expected, all that had been anticipated would ultimately be fulfilled in him.
Some of your translations literally use that word in Luke 18:31–34, “fulfilled.” Jesus here in this translation uses the word “accomplished.” The point is that everything that history has been leaning toward and everything that the Bible prophesies, promises, and anticipates is ultimately fulfilled in the death, burial, resurrection of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus here is prophesying. He is prophesying, predicting, telling us the future because God is sovereign. He knows the future and God is omniscient— he’s all knowing, including of the future. God is eternal. He is apart from time, though he works in time. Because God is unlike us, he knows the future. And here Jesus prophesies the future. On his journey toward Jerusalem, he says that he would be, number one, arrested; number two, mocked; number three, shamefully treated; number four, spit upon, which was an act of great disrespect; and number five, that he would be flogged. He gives us the mode by which he would suffer. Flogging in that day—I’ve told you many times, but it’s very important to note and I think the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” actually typified this graphically accurately—is when they would take a prisoner, strip them naked or near-naked to embarrass and humiliate them. Jesus was beaten, his beard was plucked out, he was mocked, shamefully treated, falsely accused, and spat upon. Everything he predicted came to pass. And then the hands would have been affixed, possibly chained or roped together, and the man would have been tied to a whipping post and his back, his legs, and his buttocks would have been exposed. Then perhaps two soldiers, one on each side, would have something called a flagrum or a cat o’ nine tails. It was a handle that had straps of leather that proceeded from it, at the end of which there would have been a ball made out of metal or of stone to tenderize the man’s flesh as you would tenderize a piece of meat. There were many hooks, often times made out of bone or metal, across each of the leather straps that would then sink into the man’s flesh. They would whip the man, tenderize the flesh. The hooks would sink deeply into the body down into the deep tissue and then they would literally rip the flesh off of the man’s body. His heart would go into trauma and he would have significant blood loss.
For Jesus, this was after a sleepless night and dehydration. The beating that he endured was at the hands of a crowd of evil men who mocked him, and Jesus, at this point, is a bloodied mess. History records outside of the Bible that on occasion it would be so violent that a man’s rib would literally come flying off of his body. When Jesus uses the word “flogged,” he knows that that is exactly what he will experience in Jerusalem, but he is a man on a mission to fulfill the Scriptures to get to Jerusalem to atone for the sin of the world by suffering at the hands of sinful men, though he himself was without sin.
Jesus also says that he would be killed, that he would not swoon on the cross, that he would, in fact, die. Jesus did die on the cross. He breathed his last. And to ensure that he was dead, an executioner took a spear, put it underneath the side, underneath the ribcage so that it punctured the heart sack so that water and blood flowed from his side. Jesus was then wrapped in burial linens and spices weighing upwards of perhaps eighty to one hundred pounds and his body was placed in a cold tomb hewn out of rock without any medical care. Friends, Jesus was killed, just like he promised. And then he prophesied and promised as well that he would resurrect, that he would be the only man to ultimately conquer, defeat death, that he would do the one thing that no man has ever done—come back from death to never die again, to never die again. That is because the wage for sin is death. Jesus died in our place, for our sins, though he was without sin. But death could not hold him because he had no sin. And so three days later, on a Sunday, the day that Christians now generally prefer to worship together, though the Bible gives us freedom to worship anywhere at any time corporately, Jesus rose from death on a Sunday.
Jesus predicted all of this in Luke 18. He tells us exactly what will happen to him. He prophesies and promises what awaits him in Jerusalem. And Jesus says this. I want to read it to you again. He says, “Everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” Jesus says, everything that I am going to experience, endure, overcome, and accomplish is fulfillment, accomplishment of that which God has spoken through the prophets. What Jesus is saying is this: The Bible is about me. That’s what he’s saying. Friends, this is why we disagree with the cults and the moralists and those who would just reduce Jesus down to a good example and not a real savior. The Bible isn’t about us primarily. It’s not about nations or history primarily. It’s not about good works or religion or even the supernatural primarily. All of those things are in there, but it’s primarily about Jesus Christ. It’s primarily about Jesus Christ.
THE WHOLE BIBLE IS ABOUT JESUS
This will undoubtedly raise the question in your mind. Jesus says that his life, mission, and ministry, his journey toward Jerusalem, is in fulfillment of the Scriptures. Not only does Jesus fulfill the Scripture, fulfilling the Old Testament Scriptures in particular, he makes this promise that, “The prophets are writing about me.”
This leads to a very important question then: Where is Jesus in the Old Testament? Where is Jesus in the Old Testament? Because some reading the Bible falsely think that the first three-quarters of the Bible isn’t really about Jesus. Oh, and then he’s born and we start the New Testament. The truth is that the whole Bible’s about Jesus, including the Old Testament, and Jesus himself just said that. “Everything that the prophets have written in the Old Testament is going to be fulfilled, accomplished, by me, in me, through me.”
So here’s what I want to do. And this is going to be way too much information, I’ll just tell you that in advance. I want to share with you six different ways that you can see Jesus in the Old Testament. Not with something called allegorizing, where we pretend that he’s there when he’s not, but actually being faithful to the Scriptures and seeing Jesus just as he taught us that we should see him in the Old Testament Scriptures.
The first place that we see Jesus in the Old Testament, and welcome to Bible college, is what’s called Christophanies. Christophanies. I’ll explain these to you. These are appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament before he is born of Mary on the earth. Jesus did not begin his existence with his life on earth. He existed eternally as God, God the creator, and he entered into human history as the man Jesus Christ at a point in time, but he existed, he lived and ministered, before his birth to Mary as the Son of God in eternity past.
In the Old Testament, Jesus makes some cameo appearances. I’ll give you some examples: He walked with Abraham. He wrestled with Jacob. He appeared to Moses. Right? “Before Abraham was, I AM.” I think it’s Exodus 3:14. Jesus says in the New Testament, “That was me. I AM. I was the one who spoke to Moses.” He joined Daniel in the fiery furnace. He also called Isaiah into ministry. There’s this magnificent scene in Isaiah 6, which is written about 700 years before Jesus was born of Mary, and heaven opens up. It’s like the curtain into the presence of God is pulled back and Isaiah gets to see the Lord. And he says, “I saw the Lord high and exalted, the train of his robe filled the temple. Surrounding him were angels crying out, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.’” You wonder, “Who was that that Isaiah saw?” Jesus comes along in John 12 around verses 40 and 41 and he says, Isaiah saw me and spoke of my glory. That’s amazing, amazing. That’s what John says about Isaiah. Isaiah saw Jesus and spoke of his glory. So before he was even born, he was ruling and reigning in heaven, in glory as God calling Isaiah into ministry.
Also, there is a difference in the Bible between an angel of the Lord, which is usually a spirit-being, a messenger who comes on behalf of God to speak, and the angel of the Lord, the messenger of the Lord. And I believe oftentimes when the messenger of the Lord shows up in the Old Testament, it’s Jesus in a Christophany. It’s him appearing before he’s born of Mary. He is the one who provided the sacrifice in Isaac’s place. He is the one who journeyed and ministered to and with Moses. Those are Christophanies, places, ways in the Old Testament that Jesus shows up before he’s born of Mary. And again, what we’re doing, we’re taking the words of Jesus, “Everything the prophets wrote is accomplished and fulfilled by me.” Say, “Okay Jesus, then where are you in the prophets?” Number one, we see him in the Christophanies.
Number two, we see him in types. Let me explain this. I wrote this down to get it right. Types are Old Testament representative figures, institutions, or events that foreshadowed Jesus. So you’re looking for figures, institutions, events that are foreshadowing, that are prophetically anticipating and revealing how Jesus would come and what he would do. Give you some examples: They include Adam, who foreshadows Jesus as the second Adam. We see that in places like 1 Corinthians 15:45 and Romans 5:12–21, where Jesus and Adam are said to be corollary in that Adam is the head of all fallen humanity and Jesus is the head of all new humanity. The priesthood is another example, which prefigures Jesus as our high priest. If you want to read more about that, just read the book of Hebrews. Much of the book of Hebrews is about how the whole priesthood was to get us to Jesus, our great high priest. David and other kings who prefigured Jesus as the King of kings, and Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. So when you see a king, you remember, “Ah, Jesus is the kingliest King of them all.” Moses and the prophets, who prefigure Jesus as our ultimate prophet, the one who calls us to repentance and invites us to return to God by grace. Animal sacrifices, which prefigure Jesus as the sinless Lamb of God slain for our sins. Jesus was actually called this by John the Baptizer, his cousin, in a prophetic moment where John saw Jesus coming and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” He was referring then to the sacrificial system where animals laid down their life and blood was shed for sinners, all foreshadowing Jesus’ coming, the once for all sacrifice, so that we don’t offer sacrifices today because Jesus is our sacrifice.
Another type is the temple, which prefigures God’s presence dwelling among us in Jesus. Jesus became the Holy of holies while on the earth. This is why even when Jesus died and he rose, ultimately the Holy Spirit was unleashed and the curtain guarding the presence of God in the temple was torn from top to bottom, from God to us. So today we do not go to a holy place, we go to Jesus. There is one mediator, the Bible says, between us and God. And that is Jesus. Unlike other religions, we don’t go to a holy place, we go to Jesus. We go to Jesus. He is the presence of God. And through faith in him and grace from him, the body of the believer, the Bible says, becomes the temple of God, that we don’t go to be near God, God comes to be in us. And we individually as Christians and corporately as the church of Jesus Christ become the temple. And that’s all patterned after Jesus, who himself was the Holy of holies while on the earth, he was the presence of God among us. This is why in 70 AD God had the temple destroyed and there is no temple there today. I’ve been to the temple and it’s interesting to study the history, but it’s also tragic when people think that if they get to a pile of rocks, they’re closer to God. You’re not closer to God from a pile of rocks, you’re closer to God through Jesus Christ. That’s why when we went even to the Wailing Wall I didn’t put any prayers in that wall because that would be blasphemous. That would be saying by action, “This wall mediates between me and God, and if I put my prayer in the wall, then I am ensured that it will go to God.” No, there is one mediator between me and God, and it’s not a wall. It’s the man Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, there are shepherds who care for their sheep, which reminds us that we are foolish sheep and Jesus is our what? Our good shepherd. That’s what he says. So when you read the Old Testament, you see shepherds and sheep, think of Jesus as shepherd and we as sheep. We also see in the Old Testament and throughout the Bible judges who render verdicts and make decisions, and that reminds us of Jesus, the capital-J Judge, who in, I think it’s John 5 says, “The Father judges no one, but he’s entrusted all judgment to me, his Son.” Jesus is our Judge. Additionally, there are other things like Jesus is the true bread and Jesus is the true vine and Jesus is the true light. All of those are types, you see that?
Here’s what I’m trying to do, friends. I want you to read the Bible and get to Jesus. Honestly, that’s the most important thing in the world to me. I love to lead, I love to preach, I love to teach, I love evangelism, I love church planting, I love my family, but when it comes to my job for you and my family at home, the most important thing in the world to me is that you would open the Bible and meet Jesus. That’s everything to me. That’s everything. That’s the epicenter of all we believe. That’s the epicenter for all life change. That’s really at the bedrock of who we are as a people, what we believe, and how we behave as a church. This is a Word from God. We read it, study it, listen to it, and memorize it to get to know Jesus and it’s all about him.
3. ANALOGOUS SERVICE
So in addition to Christophanies and types, there is analogous service. I’ll give you some examples of that. This is going to be a bit lengthy, but there are people who do things that ultimately Jesus does completely and fully. They’re a bit of foreshadowing or anticipating or preparing for the coming of Jesus and his service. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus Christ is the last Adam, who passed his test in the garden and in so doing imputed his righteousness to us to overcome the sin imputed to us through the first sin of the first Adam. Jesus is the true and better Abel who, although he was innocent, was slain and whose blood cries out for our acquittal. When Abraham left his father at home, he was doing the same thing that Jesus would do when he left heaven. When Isaac carried his own wood and laid down his life to be sacrificed at the hand of his father, Abraham, he was showing us what Jesus would later do. Jesus is the greater Jacob, who wrestled with God the Father in Gethsemane and, though wounded and limping, walked away from his grave blessed. Jesus is the greater Joseph, who serves at the right hand of God the King and extends forgiveness and provision to those of us who have betrayed him and uses his power to save us in loving reconciliation. Jesus is greater than Moses in that he stands as a mediator between God and us, bringing us the new covenant. Unlike Job, innocent Jesus suffered and was tormented by the devil so that God might be glorified while his dumb friends were of no help or encouragement. Jesus is a king greater than David, who has slain our giants of Satan, sin, and death, although in the eyes of the world he was certain to face a crushing defeat at their hands. Jesus is greater than Jonah in that he spent three days in the grave and not just a fish to save a multitude even larger than Nineveh. When Boaz redeemed Ruth and brought her and her despised people into community with God’s people, he was showing what Jesus would do to redeem his bride, the church, from all the nations of the earth. When Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem, he was doing something similar to Jesus, who is building for us a new Jerusalem as our eternal home. When Hosea married an unfaithful, whoring wife that he continued to pursue and love, he was showing us the heart of Jesus, who does the same thing for his unfaithful bride, the church. You get it? Analogous service. Throughout the Old Testament, significant figures do important things that ultimately lead us to Jesus, who is greater and does them better.
4. EVENTS THAT PROPHESY THE COMING OF JESUS
Number four, there are events in the Old Testament that prefigure, prophesy the coming of Jesus, who as he says in Luke 18, fulfills and/or accomplishes them. I’ll give you an example, one example. There could be many. But for the sake of time, we’ll go to the Exodus account. And in the Exodus account, here is the story: The people of God were in slavery to a horrible, cruel tyrant. He ruled over them as a false god. Their lives were marked by suffering and poverty and injustice and sorrow. And it was true for them and their children and their children’s children. There was no way they could liberate themselves or redeem themselves. The story is that God’s people have no ability to redeem, to liberate, or to free themselves from their captivity and their slavery. But God makes a way. God comes and he invites even those who were his enemies to repent and to turn from their wicked ways, to trust in him, and to be generous and loving and gracious and kind and good, as he is.
Beginning with the Pharaoh, the leader, his and his servants’ hearts become hardened. They refused to bend their knee and bow their head to the real Lord. And so then God finally begins to allow the consequence of their sin to unfold and he does this for you as well, friends, because he loves you. Sometimes when things are hard, it may be that God is allowing the consequences of your sin to encourage you to stop sinning and to turn from sin and trust in him. Yet the Egyptians’ hearts only become harder and their deeds become more angry and violent and they harm the Israelites. And so God makes a promise that he will no longer tolerate this kind of behavior and injustice, that he is going to bring death to the firstborn son in every home except for those homes whose faith is in him.
And the Israelites would demonstrate their faith in him by offering a sacrifice, taking the blood of the sacrifice, and literally painting it over the doorway to their home. God promised that there would come a night when literally death would come to that nation and those people, and that death would come seeking those who had hardened hearts instead of repentant hearts and those who clung to their sin rather than despising it. And that literally death would pass over every home that was covered by the blood. Some families in faith offered a sacrifice and did what is admittedly a peculiar thing, they took blood and they painted the doorway of their home with it, trusting that God’s Word, God’s promises, and God’s prophecies were true. And death came. Death came to every firstborn son in every home, including the great Pharaoh’s, with the exception of those people who trusted in the Lord and as an act of worship and faith, obeyed him, doing what was peculiar, slaughtering an animal, showing that the wage for sin is death, that they deserved death, too, but being covered by the blood of the lamb so that death would literally pass over them. This is where we get the whole Jewish feast of Passover. The only way to have God’s wrath pass over you is through faith in Jesus Christ so that you will be covered with the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The Exodus event was foreshadowing the coming of Jesus. That the only way we can get out of slavery to sin—and many of you don’t see it that way. See, we live in a nation that promulgates this very powerful myth that we’re free, we’re all free. We’re free to choose our own slave master.
But we’re not free. The Bible says, if the Son sets you free, you’re free indeed. You’re not free apart from Jesus. All you can do is choose your slave master. It can be drugs, sex, food, power, comfort, security, independence, dependence, whatever your thing is, accomplishment, achievement, self-loathing, self-medicating. Whatever it is, all we can do is just choose our Pharaoh—we choose our slave master.
But we’re not free. What we own owns us. All of a sudden, people and things begin to control us, and we suffer and our life suffers and it affects our children and our children’s children. And we can’t get ourselves out of a cycle of debt or pride or slavery or addiction, whatever the case may be. And we need Jesus to come and deliver us, to do a miracle, to get us away from Satan and demons and our addictions and sins and compulsions and proclivities and to liberate us through a miracle as he did those in the days of the Exodus so that might be free to worship him, which was the point of the Exodus, and that we might be sanctified, continue to deal with our own sin and grumbling even after God liberates us.
The Exodus story is a little picture of the ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. That’s why the Bible says, Jesus Christ, our Passover lamb, has been slain. That’s why Peter as well says that we are given salvation by the sprinkling of his blood. It’s all the language of the Exodus. The Exodus makes no sense. I love Jewish people, but their eyes, the Bible says, are blind. The whole point of Passover is Jesus—that we are in slavery and sin and without him there is no redemption. And without the shedding of his blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. That’s the whole point of the Exodus. That’s the whole point of the Passover. That’s the whole point of the second book of the entire Bible: Jesus.
5. TITLES THAT REFER TO JESUS
In addition to events, there are titles. There are many titles for God in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus. I’ll give you some: the suffering servant from Isaiah 40–66. That huge swing in Isaiah written some 700 years before Jesus is born talks about the coming of God as a suffering servant. That’s Jesus. He’s also known as the first and the last in Revelation, which is a title for God in the Old Testament. Light, rock, husband or bridegroom, shepherd, Redeemer, Savior, Lord of glory. Those are all Old Testament titles for God that are then given to Jesus. And you just saw one right here in Luke 18. I’ll read it again, “And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.’” Jesus right here in our text today of Luke 18—and we’re taking this big idea that the whole Old Testament and prophetic history is about him. He refers to himself here as the Son of Man. Well, that’s category five. That’s a title from the Old Testament that Jesus ascribes to himself. I’ve shared this with you repeatedly in Luke’s Gospel because this is Jesus’ favorite self-designation. This is the favorite title that he ascribes to himself. He does it some eighty times in the four Gospels and he lifts it from Daniel 7:14, where it speaks of God the Father ruling in eternity past and glory, and one like the Son of Man, who is alongside of him, that’s Jesus Christ, God become a man, enters into human history. It says he comes into human history to rule and to reign and to redeem sin and to also set up a kingdom that will never end as he rules and reigns as God forever, the King of kings. And so they were awaiting the coming of this Son of Man, God who would come like one of us. And Jesus says right here in Luke 18, “That is me.” So he takes an Old Testament title and he appropriates it for himself.
6. JESUS PROPHESIED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
And lastly, perhaps the most common category of finding Jesus in the Old Testament is prophecy. At the time of it’s writing, some twenty-five percent of our Bible was prophetic in nature, meaning it predicted the future in great detail. Some of the prophecies are hundreds of years in advance. Some of the prophecies are thousands of years in advance. If any of the prophecies of the Bible do not come true, then we are not to trust the Bible, even the Bible itself. In places like Deuteronomy 13 and 18, if memory serves me correct, say that we know that someone is a true prophet of God because absolutely everything they say happens exactly as they say it. So all prophets who are truly prophets of God, they are one hundred percent right all of the time about all the details, sometimes predicting the future thousands of years in advance. It’s a miracle of God. Only God could know the future. Only God could control the future. And a prophet is one who is raised up by God to communicate on his behalf.
I could share with you a lot of prophecies. The Bible tells us in great detail that Jesus would come to the temple before 70 AD, that he’d be born in the town of Bethlehem, and that he’d be born of a virgin. It tells us all of these things hundreds and thousands of years in advance. For the sake of time, I just want to hit some of the prophecies, just a few that were written well in advance, prophesying the specific issues that Jesus addresses in Luke 18: that he would suffer, that he would die, that he would be flogged, that he would rise. Those kinds of big issues.
So let me share some with you in succession. Let me preface it by saying this. Number one, for those of you who are Christians, I hope this helps you trust the Word of God as the Word of God. I hope this helps you to receive the Bible as true and written by God and miraculous and unlike anything else that’s ever been written. For those of you who are not Christian, I hope that you would be forced to consider and contemplate how in the world could these things be written if God was not involved? You have to see that this book is unlike, superior to, every other book that’s ever been written because it is literally God revealing himself to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Friends, I was not a Christian my whole life. I grew up a marginal church attender and I didn’t know and love Jesus. It wasn’t my parents’ fault, and it wasn’t the church’s fault. It was my fault. I never read the Bible. I never read it. I never just picked it up and read it. I heard what everyone else said about it, but I never heard what it said. And I would have said, “Yeah, I believe the Bible and I think “parts of it are wrong and maybe it’s written by people who really weren’t brought along by God and maybe God’s not really involved.” And then in college the most remarkable thing happened. I actually started to read the Bible for myself. And that’s what I want for you. Read the Bible for yourself. And if you don’t have a copy, pick one up on the way out, grab a stack for your friends. We love giving the Bible away. We’re glad to. We’re glad to. And if you want a good study Bible to help answer some of your questions, get the ESV Study Bible. That’s a translation, English Standard Version. Get the ESV Study Bible. I started reading the Bible and one thing that absolutely convinced me that the Bible is true, from God, unlike anything else, were the prophecies. I was like, “How in the world could anyone but God know the future in such great detail?” And I want to share just some of those with you today about the suffering and death of Jesus.
One thousand years before Jesus was born, we read this in Psalm 16:10, “You will not abandon my soul to Sheol,” or the grave, “or let your holy one,” that’s Jesus, he’s the holy one, “see corruption.” A thousand years before Jesus is born on the earth, the prophecy is made that he will die, but he’s not going to stay in the grave. He is the holy one. His body will not decay. He’s coming back to life. Additionally, 1,000 years BC—and again, history’s all about Jesus too. BC is “before Christ” and AD is Anno Domini, “the year of our Lord.” So roughly 1,000 years BC, before Jesus Christ was born, Psalm 22:1, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Who says that? Jesus. When does he say that? On the cross as he’s breathing his last. In so doing, Jesus is showing us he reads the Bible, he memorizes the Bible, he knows the Bible, he’s quoting the Bible, he’s fulfilling the Bible, and that when Psalms was written 1,000 years prior, it was speaking of the day of his death. 1,000 BC, Psalm 22:16, we read, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced,” what? “My hands, my feet.” This is a prophecy that Jesus would be crucified with nails driven through the most sensitive nerve centers on the human body, the hands and the feet. And friends, this is written hundreds, hundreds, hundreds of years before crucifixion was even invented. At this point, crucifixion didn’t even exist and the prophecy is made that Jesus would not only be put to death, but that he would be nailed through his hands and his feet and that godless men would surround him, mock him, scorn him, shame him, spit upon him.
Additionally, 1,000 BC, Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” The lifting of the heel here would have been an act of disrespect. In our day, it’s—I hate to say it—it’s like giving someone a certain finger. It’s a very aggressive, disrespectful action in that culture. And Jesus says that he would be betrayed by one who would despise him, one who what? Was a friend. Not just a friend, a close friend whom he would break bread and have meals with. Who was that? Judas Iscariot. Here’s the prophecy that Judas would betray Jesus. Judas was a friend of Jesus, a disciple of Jesus who spent three years traveling with him. They ate meals together and broke bread frequently. And at the Last Supper, while eating bread together, Judas opened his heart, Satan entered him, and that’s when he resolved, ultimately, that he would raise his heel against Jesus, that he would participate in his murderous execution, that Judas was going to kill Jesus or at least be complicit in that act. Seven hundred years before Christ was born and now we’re going to move into the book of Isaiah.
Let me say this. Isaiah has so much to say about Jesus that some call it the fifth Gospel. And there’s so much about Jesus, particularly from Isaiah 40–66, the whole suffering servant section. But here’s one example, Isaiah 50:6, “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” When Jesus says, “Everything that the prophets wrote, I will experience and I will accomplish,” this is exactly the kind of Scripture that he had in mind. Jesus’ back was just bloodied and traumatized through his flogging. They did actually pull his beard out of his cheeks, which was massive disrespect. And he says, “I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” All of that happened at the death of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem, in the greater region of the city of Jerusalem. In 700 BC, Isaiah 52:13–14 tells us this, “Behold, my servant will act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.”
Let’s unpack this. Seven hundred years before Jesus is born, he is the servant. That’s why he says repeatedly, “I didn’t come to do my will, but the will of him who sent me. I only speak what the Father tells me to say.” That’s why even in the Garden of Gethsemane, before he dies, he is literally sweating drops of blood and anxiety. He says, “Father, not my will, but your will be done.” That’s the language of a servant. “He shall be high and lifted up.” That is crucified. Again, this too is before crucifixion is happening. “And shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you. His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.” What he’s saying is they’re going to beat Jesus, flog Jesus, they are going to so traumatize the body of Jesus that he will just be an unrecognizable mess, just covered in blood. You would look at Jesus and you wouldn’t even know, “Is that a man? Is that a beast? If it is a man, which man could it possibly be? We cannot tell. The skin is hanging off his body. He is covered in blood. We cannot recognize him. He’s unrecognizable.” This is exactly the kind of Scripture that Jesus memorized as a little boy.
And at this point, as a grown man, setting his face toward Jerusalem, he knows that the day is coming when this is what he will be experiencing in our place for our sins out of love for us. And friends, God’s love is not just sentimental. He doesn’t just feel loving. God’s love is efficacious—he does something. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but experience and enjoy everlasting life.” This is the love of God in the bloody, horrendous murder of the Son of God.
And lastly, you should just go home and read the second half of Isaiah 52 and all of Isaiah 53. It is absolutely packed with prophecy about the suffering death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we’ll read this section. Isaiah 53:8–12, “He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors.”
Let me briefly unpack this. “He,” Jesus, “was cut off from the land of the living.” What is that? Dead. Seven hundred years before he walked on the earth, it was prophesied that he would die. “Stricken for the transgression of my people.” Why did Jesus die? For us. The Bible says this over and over and over and over, Christ died for our sins. The historical fact is Christ died. The theological glory is for our sins. Jesus died for us. You and I killed God. He hung in our place. He died for our transgression. He loves you. He loves me. And he shows it through his suffering. “After they made his grave with the wicked and the rich man in his death.” Jesus was not rich. Jesus was poor. Jesus was homeless and he was buried with the rich in his death. The Bible says, history records, after he died, a disciple named Joseph of Arimathea, who was a quiet follower of Jesus and was a wealthy man, knowing that Jesus had nowhere to be buried, gifted Jesus, post mortem, his own personal tomb. And so the prophecy was fulfilled. Jesus was laid with the rich in his death.
Some people said, “Oh, Jesus organized his life to fulfill prophecy.” He did not cause himself to be born of a virgin and he did not decide what grave he went in after he died. All of that was in the providence of God, who prophesied it in advance. “Although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth.” Jesus never sinned. Jesus is God. Jesus is sinless. He died for your sin and mine, none of his own. “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him.” So it was the plan of God the Father to hang our sins on the cross of God the Son and this was a plan that they agreed to in eternity past. “He has put him to grief,” and Jesus did weep and he did grieve. “When his soul makes an offering,” when he dies. That’s all priestly temple language of sacrifice. “For guilt he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied.”
This is all about the resurrection. Jesus would suffer, Jesus would die, and Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s tomb. And then, after the suffering of his soul, he’d get out of his grave, he’d see the light of day, he’d enjoy life again, he would accomplish his mission through his death, burial, resurrection, that he would take away sin, that he’d reconcile us to God, that he would accomplish eternal life, that all would be finished just like he said on the cross, “It is finished.” What is finished? All that the prophets had promised would come to pass. It was all finished. “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors.” He died between two common criminals. And in his resurrection, he is now ruling and reigning as Lord, God, Savior, King, and Christ. He is high and exalted, he is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and he gives us gifts like salvation and grace and his righteousness. And he will give those of us who believe in him his kingdom and grace that never ends. And this is the goodness of Jesus.
JOY TO PREACH THE GOSPEL
So friends, in closing, I appreciate you, for allowing me to teach the Bible. I’ve been doing this for fifteen years and I really love what I get to do. My joy is to open this book and talk about that man, that you would know him and love him and trust him and serve him, that you would sing to him and speak to him and listen to him and follow him and one day rise from death like him, to see him face to face.
So Father God, I thank you so much for the Word of God, which reveals to us the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. And Father, today we just want to thank you for Luke 18:31–34. Of all the verses in the Bible, it’s amazing how much is in just a few sentences. Jesus knew that he was a man, the God-man, on a mission to get to Jerusalem and to fulfill the Scriptures.
Lord Jesus, you did it. You did everything that was prophesied you would do. I pray for my friends, that we would believe that, that we would stake our eternity on that, and that, Lord Jesus, we would always be a people who trust this book and open it up to learn more about you by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.