Messiah in the Tanach

He showed them the things concerning the Messiah in the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, how the Messiah must rise again from the dead.

A Wordle of the distribution of words in the Hebrew Bible, by Dav!dB (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As the three men walked together, the mysterious stranger discoursed on messianic interpretations of “Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). That is to say, He explained messianic prophecies and depictions of His own suffering, death, and resurrection from the whole Hebrew Bible, i.e. the “Old Testament.”

Up until the mystical discourse on the road to Emmaus, Yeshua’s disciples continually failed to understand the Master’s predictions about His suffering and rising, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). Yeshua explained that, according to the prophecies, it was “necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into His glory” (Luke 24:26).

Luke did not record the actual contents of the Emmaus Road discourse. Nevertheless, we can reconstruct some of it based upon obvious parallels to the story of Yeshua and texts cited by the apostles as messianic prophecies.

The Master discoursed on the Torah. He may have spoken of the promises God gave to Abraham regarding his heir, a promised seed that stood to inherit the land and through whom all nations are to be blessed. He must have discussed the significance of the sacrifice of Isaac who, according to Jewish tradition, actually died on Abraham’s altar and rose back to life. He could not have neglected the story of Joseph, the favored son rejected by his brothers. The mysterious stranger surely spoke of Moses whose death outside the promised land allowed Israel to enter under Joshua. The Torah contains many other topics for messianic discourse, including the sacrificial system with all its ceremonies and rites, which lend themselves so well to Yeshua’s suffering on behalf of others.

The Master discoursed on the Prophets. He reminded them of the prophecy in Daniel that says, “The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Daniel 9:26). He must have reminded them of passages like Zechariah 12:10 or Amos 8:9 where the sun turns dark at midday and the house of Israel mourns over the one they pierced as one mourns for an only son. He certainly directed them to consider the servant of the LORD prophecies in Isaiah, particularly the potent prophecies of the suffering servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Several other pertinent prophecies could be cited.

The Master discoursed on the Writings. He might have turned their minds to any number of psalms, which describe the tribulations and triumphs of David and frequently speak of God’s deliverance from death and of His gift of life. The apostles reinterpreted the Psalms to apply them to Messiah the Son of David.

By the end of the discourse, the disciples understood how the whole Tanach could be understood to point toward Yeshua.

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