Jesus the Key to Understanding Torah

One of the Resurrectional Gospel Lessons used in Orthodox worship is Luke 24:13-35, which is read as part of the recurring readings for Sunday Matins.   In this reading, our Lord Jesus risen from the dead is speaking with two of His disciples as these disciples are leaving Jerusalem following the crucifixion of Christ.  The disciples had hoped Jesus was the Messiah, but his execution had dashed their hopes.  They leave Jerusalem despondently, though puzzled by what to make of the rumors they had heard about His being risen from the dead.  Jesus joins them in their walk, though they do not recognize their Risen Lord. After listening to their disappointment in what had happened, Jesus spoke to them, and here I’ll mention only two things He says to these despairing disciples:

“Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.  Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you: that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” (Luke 24:42‑47)

 Basically what the Risen Lord reveals to these two disciples of His is that the Old Testament indeed is a treasury of God’s riches. But it remains locked in its vault until the key is given to open the vault. That key is Christ Himself.  (see also Christ is the Key to Open the Scriptural Treasury).  The key to understand all the Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments and all 613 laws of the Torah, including the history, the psalms and the prophecies is Jesus the Messiah.  That of course is going to be one of the main points of disagreement between Christians and Jews to this day. Christians accept the notion that Jesus is more important than either Torah or Temple, and that in fact He replaces both of them in by fulfilling their original purposes, thus enacting a New Covenant/Testament between God and His People.

The Evangelist John records Jesus saying to His fellow Jews:  “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf” (John 5:39). As in the Gospel lesson of Jesus with His two traveling disciples in Luke 24, so too in John 5 Jesus teaches that the Scriptures – the entire Old Testament – serve the purpose of helping to reveal or point out the Messiah.  Jesus fulfills all the promises, prophecies and apocalyptical sayings found in the Jewish Scriptures.

Next: Reading the Old Testament with Christ