Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Have a Problem - Or So I'm Told

I have a problem. Or so I'm told. Actually, some would probably say that I have many problems, but that's neither here nor there. For the sake of this post, it's just a single problem I have - or so I'm told.

What's my problem? I see Jesus, His Church, and His Holy Word and Sacraments everywhere in the Old Testament. I see the same story of salvation told over and over again, the story of Jesus living the perfect life in our place, paying for all of our sins with His sacrificial death on the Cross, rising from the tomb on the third day, ascending to reign over all things until He returns in great glory on the Last Day, and how that salvation He accomplishes is applied to sinners through His life-giving and life-sustaining Word and Sacraments. I see that story already in the Garden of Eden, and retold in the stories of Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings . . . you get the idea. I see Jesus everywhere. I see His Holy Church everywhere. I see His Holy Word and Sacraments everywhere. And, don't even get me started on the Psalms. I know they are supposed to be neatly organized into different categories, one of which is titled, "Messianic Psalms," but, Lord help me, I see every last one of them as Messianic.

Why do some say that I have a problem here? Because, evidently, I'm only supposed to see Jesus, His Church, and His Holy Word and Sacraments in the Old Testament when the New Testament tells me to see them. For example, it's okay for me to see a type of Holy Baptism in the parting of the Red Sea, since the New Testament tells me to see that (1 Cor. 10:2). But, if there are stories of salvation which include water in the Old Testament that are not specifically mentioned in the New Testament as types of Holy Baptism, I'm not supposed to see those stories as types of Holy Baptism. The same rule applies for the Lord's Supper, the Church, and even for Jesus Himself. In fact, those who say that I have a problem are quick to ridicule me (and others - I'm not the only one who has this problem) by saying, "You absurdly see Baptism in every drop of water and the Lord's Supper in every crumb of bread or drop of wine." I know! I do. I admit it. But, they tell me that the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit that you have one, so maybe there's still hope for me?

Actually, no, there is no hope for me here. Try as I might, I can't shake it. The more I read the Old Testament, the more my problem increases. I actually see more types of Jesus, His Church, and His Holy Word and Sacraments the more I read and study the Old Testament. Where I didn't see them before, I see them now. They're everywhere!

Oh well. Some problems are just not meant to be overcome. And, that's okay with me, since the problem I have here is actually a fun problem to have. It makes reading the Old Testament - even the more mundane, drab parts - a blast. In fact, it's so much fun that, while I enjoy all the Bible Studies I have going where I serve, I'd be lying if I didn't say that our Thursday morning Bible Study, where we have been going through the Old Testament chronologically for years now (we began at Genesis and are currently in the midst of 2 Kings), is the most fun, precisely because we keep seeing Jesus, His Church, and His Holy Word and Sacraments popping up everywhere, even in places where you'd least expect them. It could be that we're seeing Jesus, His Church, and His Holy Word and Sacraments simply because we want to see them. Maybe we're forcing things a bit. But, then, I'm not so sure that's as big a problem (if it is a problem at all) as some seem to think, as our Lord did make it clear that these are the Scriptures that testify of Him.


Michael L. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D said...

It may provide some no small reassurance to the pictured little tyke, that no less an august personage as St. John the Evangelist had the very same problem!

In his Gospel, he identifies Christ as THE Word, most certainly meaning all of such. The disciple whom Jesus loved didn't start things out with the declaration that "In the beginning was the Messianic Psalms ..."

Your (unworthy) servant,
Herr Doktor

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Thanks, Dr. A! Both the pictured little tyke and I are greatly comforted by the fact that we are afflicted with the same problem as St. John. :)

Michael L. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D said...

You da man, Fr. Tom, you da man!

I encountered this, in today's (22 May 2013) Old Testament reading from the "Treasury of Daily Prayer:"

"...Now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, 'What has God wrought!'
Behold a people! As a lioness it rises up and as a lion it lifts itself; it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey and drunk the blood of the slain."
(Num 23:23,24)

Quite naturally, this glorious prophesy caused Balak no little consternation. And why not? The Bride of Christ, the mystical Body and the true offspring of Abraham, is compared to the Lion of Judah who is lifted up to shed precious water and blood.

The Church Militant is never at rest, except whenever gathering to devour He who was once the procurator's Prey, and to imbibe the blood of the Slain.

God help me to see, with all His saints ... not the old evil bogeyman under the bed ... but rather Lord Christ buried but fully Risen in His Word ... the Scripture of the most holy and ancient Church!

Whoo hoo! The heart burns!

Your (unworthy) servant,
Herr Doktor