In Psalm 40:7, the Messiah says to His Church, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of Me,” (cf. Hebrews 10:7). In the “scroll of the book,” that is, in the Scriptures of Israel, the Church reads of the Anointed One. He is the Promised Seed who will crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15); the Ruler from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12); the Prophet like – but greater than – Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15); the Son of David who is also the Lord of David (2 Samuel 7:4-17 and Psalm 110:1-2); the Virgin’s Son who is Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14); the crucified and resurrected Servant of whom Isaiah preaches (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). In the “scroll of the book” it is written of Him.
“All of Scripture everywhere deals only with Christ,” Luther affirms (WA 46:414). “Amen,” the Church responds, for “in many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets,” (Hebrews 1:1). These prophets “who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow,” (1 Peter 1:10-11). They searched their own writings, and the writings of other prophets, for they confessed that “in the scroll of the book” the Messiah was written. Indeed, when Jesus came and preached He confirmed this in words that echo Psalm 40: “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me,” (John 5:46).
How do these Scriptures bear witness of Him? “In many and various ways,” as the author of Hebrews says (1:1). Christ and His apostles demonstrate that “in the scroll of the book” the coming of the Messiah is:
• prophesied with words: His Incarnation (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23); His birthplace (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6); His death (Isaiah 53; Acts 8:32ff).
• foreshadowed in people: Adam (Genesis 1-3; Romans 5); Melchizedek (Genesis 14; Hebrews 7); David (2 Samuel 7; Luke 1:31-33); Jonah (Jonah 1-2; Matthew 12:39-40).
• prefigured in actions: the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 14; Luke 9:31); the lifting up of the serpent (Numbers 21:7-9; John 3:14-15); the sacrifice of animals (Leviticus; John 1:29).
• typified by institutions: the priesthood (Exodus 28-20; Hebrews 7-10); the kingship (2 Samuel 7; Luke 1:31-33); the tabernacle and temple (John 1:14; 2:21).
Jesus is thus not only the fulfillment of the Scriptures of Israel; He is their fullness. He fills them with words, people, actions, and institutions that testify of Him. Together, this choir of witnesses give univocal expression to what Luther incessantly preached: “All the stories of Holy Writ, if viewed aright, point to Christ,” (AE 22:339).
Our Lord Jesus opened the minds of His disciples to understand these Scriptures, that all things which were written about Him “in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,” (Luke 24:44). He also removes the “veil of Moses” (2 Corinthians 3:12-18) that obscures our vision. He “opens our eyes to behold wonderful things in His Torah,” (Psalm 119:18), for He is the Wonderful One of whom Isaiah spoke (9:6). As He interprets the “scroll of the book” which is written about Him, He “shows us the proper method of interpreting Moses and all the prophets. . . He shows that all the stories and illustrations of Moses point to [Himself],” (Luther, AE 22:339).
Thus, from Genesis through Malachi, the Christian asks himself, “How in these words is Christ speaking of Himself to His Church?” This was the question asked by the Fathers of the early Church, the question asked by Luther and the Lutheran Fathers, and the question that must still reign supreme in the exegesis and preaching of the Church today.