The life of Jesus, as found in the four Gospels, can be seen as the central link in the chain between the Old testament and the rest of the New Testament. During his ministry, Jesus always showed the highest respect for the Old Testament and he authorised it as divinely inspired in John 10:35 (Series 8 Episode 19). Martin Charlesworth continues in that episode to say, ‘If Jesus felt that about the Old Testament, how much more should we also feel that about the New Testament, which was yet to be written when Jesus uttered these words.’
We found previously that in Word Online, there are references to 24 of the 39 books of the Old Testament. In the same way, it refers to 16 of the 27 books of the New Testament. The Bible is a composite whole - with Jesus as the central character. One book - two testaments. The four Gospels are found at the beginning of the New Testament. How are the other books of the New Testament helpful for this study of the life of Jesus?
Acts of the Apostles is in many ways a continuation of the story of the Gospels. It is written by the same author as Luke’s Gospel and begins with the ascension of Jesus which is also mentioned at the end of Luke 24: 50 - 53; Acts 1: 1 - 11 (Series 14 Episode 8). The disciples that Jesus had called and trained in his lifetime, are living out the mission he had appointed them to do in the Acts of the Apostles.
Series 1 Episode 2 introduces John’s Gospel and his cosmic opening passage, John 1: 1-18. Hebrews 1: 1 - 3 helps to ‘confirm and expand’ what John is saying. The writer of Hebrews gives more detail of how God has chosen to communicate with humankind through his son, Jesus.
Sometimes, when Jesus spoke, his words could not be understood at the time. Later, after his death, resurrection and ascension, the meaning became clear to his disciples. In John 2: 19, Jesus is seen cleansing the Temple and declaring, ’Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ He was not talking of the Temple in Jerusalem but of his own body. This concept is taken further when in Ephesians 2: 21 - 23, the writer explains that Jesus’ followers were being built into a temple where God would dwell, as he had in the Temple when it was first built, 2 Chronicles 7 (Series 2 Episode 7).
Jesus often predicted a time of judgement which was to come in the last days, for example, Luke 17: 20 - 37 (Series 10 Episode 2) . These last days are described in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. (Series 5 Episode 12)
As seen in Series 2 Episode 4, a theme like ‘the lamb of God’ - which comes from the Old Testament, Exodus 12: 5 - 6, which speaks of the sacrificed lamb at the time of Passover; continues into the Gospels, John 1:19 - 34 when John the Baptist gave the title to Jesus: and on to the writings of the Early Church Apostles, 1 Corinthians 5: 7 where Jesus is referred to as the ‘paschal lamb’: and culminates in the book of Revelation, Revelation 5: 6 - 10, where the lamb is seated on the throne.
Not surprisingly, Martin Charlesworth writes: ‘Church teaching always needs to combine an accurate and effective understanding of the Old Testament with an accurate and effective understanding of the New Testament’.(Series 5 Episode 12). The two testaments are inextricably linked by the life and message of Jesus Christ.