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“Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.’”
The Lord kept on referring back to the Old Testament scriptures to show that the things which happened to Him were all in line with the purposes of God revealed in those scriptures. When it comes to showing that the cross is central to the purposes of God in the centuries before the coming of the Lord, we are spoilt for choice. The cross is there in so many ways and we shall have to condense the Old Testament teaching so that we can get into the New Testament. It is worth spending time in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 but today we will summarise SOME of the obvious pointers.
Two vital stories concern the Passover which was kept on an annual basis and the sacrificial system given by God for the tabernacle and subsequent temples. Lambs had to be slain and the blood applied in order to avert the judgement of God. The Lord Jesus was the Lamb of God, (John 1:29), and our Passover Lamb, (1 Corinthians 5:7). His shed blood can cleanse from every sin, (1 John 1:7), and once we are cleansed and sheltering behind the blood, we also escape the judgement of God.
The same truth shines out in the story of Abraham being instructed by God to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. We know that a ram died in place of Isaac, (Genesis 22:13). It was a substitutionary death.
In Psalm 41:9 we have these words, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” In the upper room, The Lord Jesus foretold the treachery of Judas by quoting that scripture. In John 13:18 He said, “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfil the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'”
Another comprehensive prophecy concerning the Lord’s suffering is found in Isaiah 50:6, “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” We only have to think of the scourging the Lord was given and the mockery of the Roman soldiers to see how perfectly this was fulfilled. These are a few more of the Old Testament signposts pointing the way to the cross on which the Prince of Glory died.