When describing salvation in the Old Testament, it is common to hear one say:
“Old Testament saints looked forward to the cross, like we look back at the cross.”
While it is a nice, understandable saying, it is simply incorrect.
We need not even go back to the Old Testament to show the error of this teaching. Let’s just look at Peter for a minute. Peter was an Apostle of Christ living with the Lord during his earthly ministry. Surely of anyone was looking forward to the cross before Calvary, Peter would have been?
Here is the Lord Jesus Christ putting “the cross” in a nutshell:
Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
What was Peter’s response?
Mark 8:32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
Peter’s response was to rebuke the Lord. Today, when someone rebukes the Gospel, we call that person lost.
Peter certainly wasn’t “looking forward to the cross.” What about looking “back” to the cross?
Luke 24:6-11 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
What do we call someone who “believes not” the resurrection? Lost! If Peter (and the other Apostles) were “looking forward to the cross” they certainly would not have denied the resurrection after it happened.