What can we learn from how Jesus quotes the Old Testament?
In John 13, Jesus quotes a Psalm that we may read apart from this passage and immediately think it’s all about King David.
That would be a wrong interpretation.
“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he,” (John 13:18-19).
In John 13:18, Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9, and thus makes it clear that this Psalm is about Him. More specifically, it is the Spirit of Christ speaking through King David. David was acting as a prophet in the Psalms and even though David went through many of the things he writes about, the Psalms are not about King David. David was merely a dim picture pointing to Christ.
Consider the two following passages:
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories,” (1 Peter 1:10-11).
Who was speaking through the prophets?
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory,” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Who are all of the promises (prophecies) of God fulfilled in?
Okay, so what do we do with this?
Simple. When reading the New Testament, as we come upon an Old Testament quote given by Jesus — or the authors that He chose — we should always go back and read the entire portion of Old Testament Scripture and see how Jesus and/or His apostles are interpreting it, learn from it, and do the same.
The New Testament is our lexicon for the Old Testament.
This Psalm is not anomaly, it is the norm. All of the Old Testament is about Jesus.
“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things,” (Luke 24:44-48).