It is surprising how often Jesus is not recognised. Today’s story of a walk with a “stranger” (Luke 24:13-35) is an example. The resurrected Jesus is the same, but not immediately known. There is time for talk on the road, and Jesus listens. It is a good school of evangelism. As he listens, he discovers what these two travellers had hoped for, expected, and felt about events as they had unfolded. He gets an insight into their disappointment and confusion.
Then – only then – “he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures” (v27). I wonder how long a list you could write of the Old Testament passages which tell us something about Jesus? We may not see them as “proofs”, for there is always discussion about how they were originally understood, but there is plenty to guide and encourage us.
I suppose the biggest references would be to the “Suffering Servant” in Isaiah, especially Isaiah 53. A pointer to how suffering might set people free! With the Servant, and joined totally, is the King, the Messiah expected to succeed to King David’s legacy. For that we might look to the Jeremiah 33:17f, as well as to the gospels. The idea of the Servant King, whose glory is at the cross, will explain a great deal to us of who Jesus was, and what he did.
Is that it? I think there were many more references Jesus could have picked up. His favourite title, “Son of Man” has a meaningful background in Daniel 7, as a figure empowered by God. Then there is the expectation of a “prophet like Moses” in Deuteronomy 18. Earlier in Isaiah are the passages we typically read at Christmastime – the descendant of Jesse (King David’s father) bringing peace (Isaiah 11), but also Emmanuel – “God with us” (Isaiah 7.14). The one who brings light to Galilee, and is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9). Perhaps Jesus talked of the donkey-riding King of Zechariah 9, or the prophesied birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). There are more you could look for.
These are useful references in Eastertime. They may not “prove” anything, but they make us think more deeply, and help us understand how much history came to a climax and fulfillment at Jesus death. He was so many things, fulfilled such varied hopes and expectations. Faith can wear thin if we only explain in one way, endlessly repeated. Jesus then remains unrecognised as the one for us. That is a disaster! God has provided many dimensions to wonder at, and a Lord with a heritage worth deeper exploration and greater appreciation.