Now that I’m Catholic, I can’t stress how many times I’ve heard the ancient saying “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ!” by St. Jerome, theologian and a Doctor of the Church. I hear it frequently on podcasts, from theologians, and followers on social media. Strangely, before becoming Catholic, I didn’t know this quote existed.
Precisely, ignorance of the Old Testament leaves us baffled at the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Therefore, without proper comprehension, one is easily oblivious to the greatness of the messiah that was foretold centuries prior to the Incarnation.
Jesus makes a similar point against the religious leaders during his time. After healing a man on the Sabbath and claiming equality with God, the Jews plotted to kill him (John 5:1-18). As a result, Jesus gave a rebuttal against their criticism by defending his unique relationship with the Father, he addressed their unbelief, and the various witnesses that foretold the coming of Jesus. Specifically, Jesus says, “You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf (39)” and, “For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? (46-48).”
Jesus pretty much connected him being prophesied back to the Old Testament. The coming of the Messiah wasn’t something that randomly happened during the 1st century. Instead, this figure was to be expected by an accompanying lineage and signs that bore witness to his authority. He would be a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), a unique prophet that would have God’s word (Deuteronomy 18:15), and he would descend from the Davidic throne (2 Sam 7:12). Furthermore, in between these verses, there are tons of prophecies that Jesus fulfilled that only the messiah would perform such as miraculous signs that demonstrated God’s redemptive work (Isaiah 61-1-2), he would be the powerful Son of Man [Jesus called himself this frequently in the Gospels] (Daniel 7:13-14), and a special messenger preceded his arrival [Fulfilled by John the Baptist] (Malachi 3:1).
The list of Messianic Prophecies that have New Testament fulfillment are abounding, but many failed to see this figure in Jesus. How bizarre! I think the Samaritan woman got it right. The woman knows from the Scriptures that the messiah will “tell us everything.” During his brief encounter with the woman, Jesus demonstrated his all-knowing power when he revealed the secret of her numerous husbands. It’s only when Jesus discloses he is the messiah that she finally connected the dots
The messiah will know all things + This man knows all things about me=This prophet is the messiah.
Immediately, she runs and tells everyone about the encounter so others can have a life changing experience by the messianic king. Jesus longed for the religious leaders and Jews to mimic a similar experience. Unfortunately, “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him (John 1:11).”
The New Testament books such as the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Hebrews makes the case compellingly clear that the Israelites had to look no further because the Kairos, appointed time, for the Christ had come to fulfill the Mosaic Law and be a light to the world. Sadly, many were unheeding to the signs and wonders of Jesus Christ.