Seven miles they walked with Him. And, in that journey, the incarnate Word of God opened their eyes to the One of whom the Law and the prophets spoke. The Key of David unlocked the Scriptures and proclaimed to them the Gospel—using the Old Testament.
Martin Luther once wrote, “The Gospel is not Christ.” Norman Nagel continues, “The Gospel is the proclamation of Christ. The proclamation of Christ is the proclamation of the cross, the proclamation of the cross for you.” And, on that road to Emmaus, the risen Christ proclaimed this Gospel to His beloved disciples.
As they traveled through the Scriptures, the Law and the prophets gave witness to how Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection overcame sin, death, and hell for them. Books such as Leviticus pointed to the atoning work the Lamb of God would accomplish for them. And, for you and me.
So, why do we still read from both the Old and New Testament every week? Because it’s all about Jesus! (Luke 24:27) The Old Testament is filled with the promise of our Savior. Jesus is first promised to us in Genesis 3:15. That promise of redemption is repeated throughout the Scriptures and fulfilled in Christ.
In the Divine Service Jesus is working through His Word delivered to our ears to give us the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is working in the reading of the Word to create and sustain faith in Christ. Jesus is giving Himself to us here in the Gospel.
Jesus said that the entire Scriptures speak of Himself (Luke 24:27), which means Leviticus also proclaims the work of Christ for us. The Gospel Leviticus proclaims is the good news of Christ’s redemptive work for our justificaiton and sanctififcaiton.
John Kleinig writes, “Leviticus proclaims the same Gospel that is enacted in the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament, the same Gospel that the church is to proclaim to the world until the close of human history. This book, then is most relevant to the life of the church because it proclaims the Gospel of Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Leviticus is not an outdated, irrelevant book in the Bible. The Word of God is at work bearing witness and proclaiming the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is our Great High Priest who removes our sin with His own blood and sacrifice in our place (Hebrews 9:11–14). Jesus’ work on the cross is the peace, guilt, and sin offering—one time for all time (Hebrews 9:25–26).
We may not be walking on the road to Emmaus with Jesus, but Jesus is still at work and present in the Divine Service with His gifts. He is still the Key of David which unlocks our minds to the beautiful Gospel. He has made us His own through His priestly and sacrificial work on the cross given to us richly and continually through Word and Sacrament.