Continuing to dwell a little longer on the role and importance of scripture in authenticating Christ’s identity and shaping/determining the nature and scope of his ministry, we will have a look at its place in the start and conclusion of Jesus’ public ministry.
Jesus’ advent was both preordained by God and foretold by Him too and was not a spur-of-the-moment act or afterthought in response to the disastrous fall of man and his subsequent predicament. Speaking about Christ 1 Peter 1:20 says, He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
The four principal sources the Lord offered to the people and authorities of His time in support of the incredible claims He was making, were not some vague, unreliable and dubious manuscripts and parallels. These were wholly accredited, universally accepted writings that he referred the Jews to. The parallel persons he cited too were both recognised and wholly accepted through their life testimony and ministry as authentic messengers of God. These were individuals in whom the entire nation trusted and whose ministries were already accepted.
The Lord Jesus Christ started and ended His ministry on earth, quite literally, in the Scriptures. He rooted and underpinned His mission on earth in the Scriptures themselves demonstrating His respect for them and the immense value and significance He attached to them. The scriptures represented the fulcrum of the Lord Jesus’ ministry, the pivot upon which the validity of his ministry on earth hinged. He frequently referred to them to justify and underpin His actions and his words confirming, at the same time, their divine origin and transcendent character.
Right at the start of his earthly ministry, the Lord pinned His very arrival onto the stage in the Scriptures. Upon reading and interpreting the scriptures on his first public ministry, the Lord sought to establish Himself and His ministry in them banning every notion and thought from the minds of people that he just appeared from nowhere, that he had no roots or there were no foundations to His appearance and mission on earth. He sought to make it known to everyone that he and his ministry were foretold by the scriptures whose authority he upheld. From the start of his ministry and frequently thereafter right through to the end, the Lord quoted and referred to them upholding their divine origin and supreme authority.
The value and reverence the Lord Jesus attached to the scriptures was immense.
This demonstrated His respect towards and his acceptance of them and their authenticity and origin as being divine.
It is the same OT scriptures the Lord Jesus used to introduce Himself and His ministry and also validate and corroborate it at the end too – Luke 1:16-20 & Luke 24:
The Lord Jesus accepted and upheld (or regarded) scripture very highly. It was his custom to be in the synagogue every Sabbath to be part of that ritual of scripture reading and exposition. (Luke 4:16)
And on this occasion he stood up to read and was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah where he read from Isaiah 61:1-2. He then declared boldly, in tandem with his reading, that this particular passage of scripture was fulfilled there and then in their very presence referring to Himself. He quite literally introduced Himself to them as the fulfilment of scripture. I am the one about whom the prophet spoke and I am the fulfilment of this prophecy. Wow!
From here on it was not the natural identity that these people knew him with that he presented Himself in. Neither was it with this natural identity he proposed or was prepared to minister but in His true, scripture-designated identity. So, in one sweep he referred them to the scriptures both for his identity and his ministry – he was the one scriptures foretold about regarding a saviour and deliverer and his ministry was precisely what was foretold by the prophet – preaching the gospel, mending the broken hearted, liberating the captivated and oppressed, opening the eyes of the blind and all this proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord.
The conclusion of the Lord’s ministry on earth was also, quite literally, signed, sealed and delivered in scripture. In conversation with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus soon after his crucifixion and resurrection, the Lord first rebukes them for their unbelief, for not putting their faith in the Scriptures (i.e. what the Prophets spoke in the past). He then proceeded to explain to them that every single thing that happened to him was in line with prophecy and nothing happened that was not foretold.
He referred and directed them to THE scriptures and nothing else. He did not, in this place, refer to John the Baptist or Moses or even his own works but back to the root, that is, to scriptures and the prophetic word. He then continued beginning with Moses (who was a common reference point), to expound to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself, relating to Him as a person and His mission on earth.
The Lord “opened the scriptures” (Luke 24:32) to them so that they could see him in there -so that their faith would be primarily established on absolutely solid and unshakeable ground – the scriptures themselves – and nothing else. This was his purpose.
And it was this same thing that the Lord was saying to them all the while he was with them – repeatedly referring to the scriptures regarding Himself and his destiny on earth. With the benefit of hindsight and in light of his suffering and resurrection, He now emphasised this to all the disciples that it was him that was written about in the law, the prophets and the psalms and that all that was written had to come to pass –
Luke 24:44-46 He signed off his accomplished ministry on earth like He started – declaring His completed mission on earth as the ultimate fulfilment (culmination) of Scripture.
The Lord firmly traced the roots of His identity and mission on earth, both at the start and the conclusion, in scripture.