Rhyse Furio, our friend in Lebanon, asked me, “Is Jesus referred to in every story of Scripture?”
In response, I gave her (and everyone else in her group) passages that teach that the whole Bible is all about the Lord Jesus Christ:
[Jesus said,]”You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39)
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Christ] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27)
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.” (Luke 24:44-47)
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)
Moreover, the Bible gives us the following keys to its proper, Christ-centered interpretation:
- “The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)
Key Old Testament characters (like Adam, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, etc.) are “types” of Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:14)
- Food, festivals and the Sabbath of the Old Testament “are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17)
- The temple, priesthood and offerings in the Old Testament “serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” (Hebrews 8:4-5)
- “The law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities.” (Hebrews 10:1)
“What about the Book of Judges or those laws about some nasty sins in Leviticus?”, Rhyse inquired. How are those about Jesus, too?
My answer is two-fold:
- Jesus is YAHWEH who consistently dealt with and punished wicked people in both OT and the NT.
- Wicked kings, priests and prophets, and nasty sins in the OT point to (a) Israel and the world’s condition without Christ and (b) our need for Him, who is the only perfectly righteous and faithful King, Priest and Prophet.
So, for example, when we read about wicked kings in the Bible, we must think and reflect on the following:
- How bad fallen human nature is;
- How perfectly righteous and faithful Jesus is;
- How thankful we ought to be for Christ our perfectly righteous and faithful King, Priest and Prophet; and
- How the Holy Spirit is sanctifying and conforming us to the image and likeness of Jesus in holiness, righteousness, obedience and faithfulness.
Many Christians are bored about the Bible, do not feed regularly on God’s word, and are therefore weak and carnal in their Christian walk. They are bored about the Bible because their interpretation and understanding of it is not Christ-centered but man-centered/self-centered. Moralistic-only and man-centered/self-centered interpretations of the Bible do not satisfy the deep longings of our soul. And they do not release the Holy Spirit’s soul-nourishing, faith-growing, sin-conquering and obedience-enabling power in and upon us.
We must keep in mind and heart that the Holy Spirit testifies about Christ. The Lord Jesus Himself tells us,
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” (John 15:26)
Now, the whole Bible is the Holy Spirit’s testimony about Christ! And only a Christ-centered interpretation of any verse and passage of the Bible releases the fullness of the soul-nourishing, faith-growing, sin-conquering and obedience-enabling power of Holy Spirit, who is the Great Witness/Testifier of Christ. Only a Christ-centered interpretation of God’s word is the ultimate solution to boredom, immaturity and carnality in the Christian life.
We read this in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Christ-centered interpretation equals beholding the glory of the Lord, and that leads to us being “transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
Then Paul tells us that this comes from the Holy Spirit. This is how He works.
Sadly, most sermons and teachings today are moralistic. I agree that morals are good and important, but they can’t be number 1. Jesus is! He must have the preeminence in all things. Therefore, Christ must always be number 1, and morals number 2.
Morals-only interpretation is wrong. On the other extreme, Christ-centered interpretation without application (morals) is also wrong.
For us, it must always be Christ-centered interpretation and application.
“We must not tell chiefly of people, of their faith as an attracting example and of their sins as a repelling example, but we must tell of the revelation of the grace of God in Christ.” – S. G. De Graaf
“To preach the Bible as ‘the handbook for life,’ or as the answer to every question, rather than as the revelation of Christ, is to turn the Bible into an entirely different book. This is how the Pharisees approached Scripture, however, as we can see clearly from the questions they asked Jesus, all of them amounting to something akin to Trivial Pursuits: ‘What happens if a person divorces and remarries?’ ‘Why do your disciples pick grain on the Sabbath?’ ‘Who sinned–this man or his parents–that he was born blind?’ For the Pharisees, the Scriptures were a source of trivia for life’s dilemmas. To be sure, Scripture provides God-centered and divinely-revealed wisdom for life, but if this were its primary objective, Christianity would be a religion of self-improvement by following examples and exhortations, not a religion of the Cross. This is Paul’s point with the Corinthians, whose obsession with wisdom and miracles had obscured the true wisdom and the greatest miracle of all. And what is that? Paul replies, ‘He has been made for us our righteousness, holiness and redemption’ (1 Cor 1:28-31).” – Michael Horton
“Jesus Christ is therefore the theme of the whole Old Testament. When we read of God’s saving acts in the Old Testament, we are always being pointed to the full accomplishment of His salvation in the New. The Exodus no less than the Passover, the victories of Samson no less than those of David, show us that God can deliver through His chosen One. They speak to us of the mighty One who came to destroy the powers of evil on the cross. The whole ceremonial law has a symbolic purpose. The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin; only the blood of Christ can. The prophets, priests, and kings of the Old Testament are set apart to represent the people of God, and God before the people. The calling that they have prepares us to understand the only Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). There is not strand in the history of God’s salvation (or of His work of judgment) that does not lead to Jesus Christ, ‘that in all things He may have the preeminence’ (Col. 1:18). Jesus Christ is in all the Old Testament, not merely in a few messianic passages. His lordship and His servant-hood are intertwined in it like the threads of a fabric. The pattern of the fabric remains a puzzle to us until we see His of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, the Alpha and the Omega of our faith.” – Edmund Clowney
“Expositional sermons take the point of the text as the point of the sermon . . . [A]n exposition of Scripture simply seeks to uncover, explain, and apply the divinely intended meaning of the text. . . The point of any Biblical text is to accomplish God’s purposes in the hearts and minds of God’s people. So if the sermon amounts to no more than a wordy commentary devoid of application, it has missed the bull’s eye at which true exposition always takes aim.” – Mark Dever