(Over the past month a wonderful group of pastors/academics put together a Lenten devotional for their respective congregations. Each has written one (sometimes two) entries, and they will be sent out accordingly. The theme is “Jesus in the Old Testament” and it’s a chance to see how the story of scripture reads both forward and backward.)
Wednesday, February 17: Introduction
Rev. Matt Benton, Bethel UMC – Woodbridge, VA
Who is God? What is God like? Are Jesus and God different? Why are there two parts to the Bible? Does God change in between? Why does God seem so judgmental in the Old Testament and so loving in the New Testament?
As Christians we believe that God is who God has always been; God is unchanging. And God has always related to humanity with grace and love. We believe that the great story of Scripture is one of God unveiling God’s love for us throughout time and history. We also believe that love was made most prominently known through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But, from the very beginning, the Bible has always been pointing towards Jesus.
Lent is a 40 day season in the life of the church when we prepare our hearts to hear again the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In order to reflect on that story in a new way this year, we present this devotional series that seeks to highlight places in the Old Testament that serve as teasers for Jesus, that show us how God’s story of salvation has always been oriented towards the cross and empty tomb, and that highlight how both the Old and the New Testament are centered around God’s amazing love, grace, and provision for us.
Each day there will be an image or story from the Old Testament. Stories like God protecting his faithful servants in the fiery furnace or providing manna in the desert. Images like the suffering servant from Isaiah or the Paschal Lamb from the Exodus. And the writers will show us how each story or image shows us what Jesus is like, reminds us of Jesus, points us to Jesus in the New Testament.
We hope that as we reflect on these previews of Jesus found in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible that you will have a new or greater appreciation for the Old Testament. Perhaps you will learn something new or encounter a story you’ve never read before. But, ultimately, we hope this will deepen your love for God who has been loving us, providing for us, and meeting us with grace literally for forever.