Hidden in Plain Sight

Christ in the Old Testament

by David Daniels on

Articles 6 min read
Luke 24:13–35

In 1963, a painting was gifted to the Evansville Museum in Indiana and immediately put into storage. No one knew the apparent artist, identified as “Gemmaux,” and so the work was hidden away from the main collection. It was later remembered that “gemmaux” is the plural of “gemmail,” an art-glass medium. The word described the process, not the painter. Upon closer inspection, the artist’s name was signed in the upper right corner of the frame: Picasso. All the clues confirmed the European master: strong lines, a cubist aesthetic, the combination of frontal and side-view faces. The newfound masterpiece, “Seated Woman With Red Hat,” valued well beyond $100 million, had been hidden in plain sight.

Picasso Painting.jpg

Most people think that Jesus is introduced about three-quarters of the way into their Bible, in the multiple Gospel accounts. They don’t realize that Jesus is found throughout the Old Testament, even in the very first pages of creation. He is a treasure hidden in plain sight, fully revealed at His coming.

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two travelers on their way to the town of Emmaus (Luke 24). The three of them talked about the recent crucifixion and mysterious disappearance of the self-proclaimed Messiah. But the two men “were kept from recognizing Him” (v. 16). Jesus’ identity was veiled to them in much the same way that so many missed who Jesus was throughout most of His life. Paul would later diagnose the problem: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

As the group arrived at a home and sat down for a meal, Jesus admonished, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:25). And then, beginning with the Torah and walking through Israel’s history to the prophets, Jesus showed them how the Scriptures told His story.

Now, it’s important to remember that “the Scriptures” (see John 5:39) Jesus referred to weren’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Gospels hadn’t been written yet! Jesus didn’t point to verses in 1 Corinthians or 2 Peter, letters that would come later. He opened their eyes to Himself hidden throughout the pages of the Old Testament.

Someone might wonder where Jesus is found in the first testament. His name certainly doesn’t appear anywhere. But there are 4 pictures of Jesus that we can discover:

  • PROPHECY—The greatest testimony of Jesus is revealed and fulfilled prophecy, predictive expectations of the coming Messiah. Some have catalogued more than 350 references to Jesus including that He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), that He would be born to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), that kings would present Him with gifts (Psalm 72:10), that He would begin His ministry in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1), that He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9), that He would be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9), that He would be betrayed by a friend (Zechariah 11:12), and that His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16), just to name a few. The odds of any one person fulfilling just a handful of these prophecies is mathematically impossible. But Jesus fulfilled them all. IN the prophecies, He is a treasure hidden in plain sight.

  • TYPOLOGY—These are “shadows” that point to a greater reality. Types are ideas which find their greatest expression in Christ. For example, Abraham offering his son, Isaac, is a type of Christ who was sent by His father to die for sinners. Joseph rejected by his brothers is a type of Christ who was rejected by his countrymen. Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer who rescues Ruth is a type of Christ who is our Redeemer. Sometimes, Jesus makes the connection between the type and Himself (see John 3:14, Matthew 12:40, John 6:41). But, whether they were explicitly explained or not, they were signs to prepare God’s people for the Messiah to come.

  • TRINITARIAN HINTS—The Trinity is one of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. The New Testament opens up with the birth of Jesus, the Son of God. But Jesus always existed, co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The plural language of Genesis 1:26 (“Let us make man in our image…”) or Genesis 3:21 (“Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us…’”) or Isaiah 6:8 (“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us’?”) reminds us that Jesus is found in both testaments.

  • THE ANGEL OF THE LORD—Sometimes, this mysterious messenger of God makes an appearance among God’s people (see Genesis 22:11, Exodus 3:2, Judges 2:1, Zechariah 3:1). In these encounters, this angel is distinct from God, the Father. He is worshipped and viewed as equal with God. Because he has visible form, many theologians believe that this is the pre-incarnate Christ, ministering generations before His birth.

Any one of these examples provides a compelling picture of Christ. Put together, it’s hard to imagine anyone missing Him when He appeared! But people did.

And people still do.

Three responses are fitting for people today. First, be wise. The Jews foolishly missed Jesus because they weren’t looking through the lens of Scripture but through the lens of politics, their own hopes and dreams, cultural expectations, and more. God has given us the same revelation—Scripture which is able to “make us wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). So let the truth of the Bible lead you to what is true.

Second, be ready. Many missed Jesus at His first coming because they ignored or misinterpreted the signs. Jesus has promised His return and we should wait, watch, and welcome Him when He comes.

Finally, we must believe. The men at Emmaus were “slow of heart to believe” (v. 25). They weren’t the only ones. Many today are still trying to decide what they believe about Jesus. It’s right to investigate the facts, but once you have the facts, you must make a decision. To not make a decision is to decide against Jesus. Believe in Him, the Old and New Testament revelation of God. He is the Savior of the World. Trust Him and let Him be the priceless treasure of your life.

About the Author

Dr. David Daniels (D. Min. Dallas Theological Seminary, M. Div. Denver Seminary) is Lead Pastor of Central Bible Church and author of Next Step Church, Next Step Discipleship, Next Step JournalWonder, and An Unexpected King.