Mosaic of the Messiah

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I have always enjoyed puzzles.

There’s something deeply satisfying about piecing together all the particular parts into a whole picture. A corner here, a border there, the various and sundry middles—when it’s all assembled you can finally see how each little bit contributed to the overall scene.

It’s a joy now to share in this with my own kids. We have a couple of puzzles, though, that are just pieces in a bag; the box has been destroyed or misplaced. And these ones are now much more, well, puzzling. Without seeing the end product, it’s hard to know how the other parts all fit together.

This is something like the challenge faced by God’s people before the coming of Jesus. Scattered throughout the Old Testament are pieces of a picture, fragments of a larger whole. Individually, these images are clues to Christ’s identity. Some, like the Servant of Isaiah 53, are more filled out; others, like “the glory of the Lord” in Isaiah 40, are more allusive. Taken together, though, these images and fragments make up a sort of mosaic of the Messiah.

This is one of the gifts of the season of Advent.

Advent is the season of expectation, of longing. We’re preparing to commemorate and celebrate the first coming of Christ—even as we anticipate and wait for His second coming. And in this season, the Old Testament lessons from the lectionary (the ordered series of Bible readings for Sundays) furnish us with some of the puzzle pieces.

  • 1st Sunday in Advent—We see Jeremiah’s image of the Branch (or “sprout”; Jer 23.5-8)
  • 2nd Sunday in Advent—Malachi’s image of the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4.1-6)
  • 3rd Sunday in Advent—Isaiah’s image of the Glory—in Hebrew, the cabod—of God (Is 40.1-8)
  • 4th Sunday in Advent—Moses’ image of the great end-times Prophet (Deuteronomy 18.15-19)

On their own, each of these images provides an incomplete picture of Jesus—like puzzle that’s missing pieces. Together, though, they render a mosaic of the Messiah. So throughout this season of Advent, as we prepare for the celebration of our Lord’s coming, we’ll be pondering these different Old Testament images—grateful that, as New Testament believers, we now have the whole picture in view. And who would’ve guessed it?

This post is adapted from Pastor’s December newsletter article.

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