Many of the first Christians used this method to find new insights in the Scriptures. We see these ‘types’, or ‘figures’ or examples in many places in Scripture like in 1 Cor 10:11 and Heb 11:19 for example.
One of these instances can be found in the Gospel of Matthew where we see that the Egyptian Exodus told in Hosea 11:1 is quoted exactly in Matt 2:15 when speaking of Jesus’ return to Israel from Egypt: “where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of
I called my son."” Egypt
What Matthew has done here is he took an historical event and interpreted it as a shadow of something greater to come in the future, which he sees as ‘fulfilled’ in the person of Jesus the Messiah.
Other examples of Jesus Christ type/antitype pairs are:
A) Jonah in the belly of the whale is a type of Christ in the tomb. For Jonah stayed in the belly for three days as did Christ stay buried for three days until His resurrection as Jesus explained Himself “In the same way that Jonah spent three days and nights in the big fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and nights in the depths of the earth. “(Matt 12:40)
B) The deadly bites of serpents are healed by the brazen serpent, which was lifted up that those bitten might look at it and live (Num 21:9). Jesus Himself gives the explanation of this: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:14)
C) In God’s request that Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen 22:2) we find another type of Christ. The birth of both was supernatural (remember, Abraham was a hundred years old and Sarah an elderly woman when she bore Isaac). Both are sons of promise. Both were called “the only begotten son.” Both carried the wood of their own demise up the same mountain, Moriah. Both consented to endure death. Both were bound. Both were offered by their fathers. Both were laid on the wood. Both were in the vigor of life, and both live again after the offering.
D) Melchizadek is another type of Christ. We see evidence of this in Heb 6:20 “On our behalf Jesus has gone in there before us and has become a high priest forever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.” and “Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and also a priest of the Most High God, brought bread and wine to Abram [whose name was later changed to Abraham] and blessed him, and said, "May the Most High God, who made heaven and earth, bless Abram!”(Gen 14:18)
In the Paschal lamb which the Israelites were commanded to eat as part of the Passover celebration is another strong foreshadowing of Christ. Each family is commanded to take a lamb without blemish and to sacrifice it (Exo 12:7-8). The lamb was to be roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and wild lettuce. The Paschal Lamb prefigured symbolically Christ, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
We can agree that Jesus is a priest forever of the order of Melchizedek (Heb 6:20), and that he is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) because we find these statements in Holy Scripture. By putting these to types together we see that Jesus is a priest forever but also the sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins. Jesus as priest offers up to God a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins, Himself. That sacrifice, as in the Passover sacrifice of the lamb, we are to EAT the lamb. Now, how are we to eat the lamb when the sacrifice is in the form of bread and wine? We find the solution in Jesus’ own words in the Last Supper when He raises up the bread and then the wine and says: “this is my body…this is my blood”. The bread and wine presented and consecrated is transformed into the body and blood of our Lord but in keeping the same form of bread and wine! A perfect fulfillment of both types including a third type where Jesus calls Himself the true bread of Heaven which gives eternal life! John 6:48-50 states “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died. But the bread that comes down from heaven is of such a kind that whoever eats it will not die.”
The difference between Christ’s death on the cross – the event- and the Eucharist – the sacrament – is the difference between history and liturgy. The historical event happened once and it will never again be repeated (Heb 9:25-26). The liturgical sacrament, however, not only keeps the past from being forgotten; through it the Eucharist of history – Jesus’ passion and death – is made present again. While his act of physical death will never be repeated, Jesus’ act of total self-giving to the Father for us (Rom 8:32) continues eternally in Love – that is, the Holy Spirit.
This moment in salvation history is the culmination of all of Scripture. As the Israelites were to sacrifice and eat the Passover lamb, so now are we to re-present His sacrifice forever in the form of bread and wine and eat His body and drink His blood because HE is the perfect sacrificial Lamb that we are to eat for our salvation (John 6:51). As the first Isrealites had to eat the sacrificial lamb, so too must we do the same.