It is not something we often think about, but the Gospel’s fulfillment actually begins with the birth of Jesus. At least he part of God’s redemption plan most clearly understood by us. We will not go into all of the theology surrounding the incarnation here. However, it is worth mentioning that without the physical entrance of Jesus into the world, the idea of a physical death would make little sense.
The sacrificial system used by the Israelites serves as the precursor to the cross. The reasons and interactions between people and priests and God are all images we need to better understand our redemption in Jesus. While the Old Testament speaks in shadows and allusions, Jesus embodies the full expression of what those actions and symbols pointed to.
In the Old Testament system, we are taught about the need for atonement and restoration of fellowship with God. These processes are necessary for there to be a relationship with God. Without them, we do not have any hope of having our relationship with God restored.
This short reminder of what God initiated is important to make sense of how God ultimately fulfilled his promise of salvation for all people. God never wastes his effort or energy. He is economical in that sense. But, that also means that everything God does is designed to help us better understand what he wants us to know.
The Gospel’s fulfillment only makes sense in the greater revelation of God’s purposes. This means that what we see on the cross was preceded by Jesus’s life. We can bear witness to Jesus’s life because of his birth. And God’s people anticipated the coming of the Messiah because of what God said about the coming king.
All of these linkages in time are a part of God’s unfolding revelation of what he has been doing from the beginning of creation. Too often we miss these connections because they are so far apart. That’s why it’s helpful to take some time and think about God’s actions over a wider span of time. I know that I have been supposed, more than once, by what I have seen working together. Events and situations that at other times seemed possible.