Loudly and Quietly
Have you ever tried to communicate with someone discreetly, but they just won’t get the hint? Sometimes it happens when we’re out shopping. We see something we like, and we motion for our husband or wife to come over and look. However, they don’t hear us. We say their name in a loud whisper. Still no answer. Finally, exasperated, we call their name to grab their attention, though it likely means grabbing the attention of everyone around us too.
In like manner, the gospel of Matthew communicates to us both loudly and quietly. Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy filled with names from the Old Testament. This is loud: the genealogy shows us that Jesus is descended from great Old Testament figures such as Abraham and David. Jesus is the promised Seed of Abraham and the great King from David’s line. In the subsequent narrative, Matthew tells us about Jesus’ birth and the beginning of His ministry. Throughout these chapters, Matthew quotes directly from numerous Old Testament prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and Hosea. Again, this is loud: Jesus is the fulfillment of these Old Testament passages. The prophets anticipated and foretold the coming Redeemer.
However, there is more that Matthew is communicating to us quietly. He is, as it were, motioning to us without saying something directly. For example, though Matthew does directly quote from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and Hosea, that doesn’t mean that these are the only Old Testament passages that Jesus fulfills. In fact, Jesus says explicitly in chapter 5 that He has come not to abolish the Old Testament but to fulfill it. So, the passages that Matthew quotes in chapters 1–4 can be seen as gestures. Matthew is pointing us back to the Old Testament and saying: “See here? Jesus fulfills this, this, and this, but He also fulfills even more if you look more closely.” In fact, Jesus says that He has come to fulfill the Old Testament after He went up on a mountain (Matt. 5:1). Careful readers will remember another man who went up a mountain and came back to deliver the oracles of God—Moses. Here, again, Matthew is gesturing. Jesus is the great Prophet that Moses himself had promised long ago in Deuteronomy 18:15: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers.”
Seeing these connections throughout the Old and New Testaments helps us understand the beauty and unity of the Scriptures. God really does have a plan. It is a plan that stretches down through the ages, and by His grace, it includes Christians such as you and me. His plan is redemption, and this redemption is accomplished by our triune God. The unity of the Scriptures highlights the person and work of Christ. So, we should read the Bible with eyes wide open, expecting the Savior. Before long, we will begin to see Jesus on every page. And if we are Christians, the more we know Jesus, the more deeply we will love and adore Him.