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Christ the Center of Scripture

Jesus Christ is fully God (Col. 2:9), and since the Scriptures are the unified Grand Story of God’s redeeming the world, Scripture is about Christ, the Mediator of God’s redemption (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus Himself pointed out to the Jewish leaders in John 5:39-40 the truth that for them to understand the Bible they had to understand Him. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” At the center of the Bible is the person of Jesus Christ.

Walking on the road to Emmaus on resurrection Sunday, Jesus rebukes two of His disciples for reading the Scriptures incorrectly:

“Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

And then later that same day, Jesus appears to more of the disciples in Jerusalem:

“Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45)

It’s all about Jesus

Jesus taught His disciples that to interpret the Bible correctly they must understand that it is about Him. (Other passages that help us understand Jesus is the “Big Idea” of the entire Bible include Matt. 5:17, John 1:45; 5:39, Acts 17:2-3, Rom. 1:1-3, and 1 Pet. 1:10-12.)

Recognizing that the Bible is Christocentric changes how we come to the Bible. John Jefferson Davis in Meditation and Communion with God¸ states that “…the reader of the Bible comes to the text not as a stranger to Christ – who is the central subject of all Scripture – but as one who is actually connected to Christ by the Holy Spirit, as one who is really in the real presence of the risen Lord in the prayerful reading of Scripture. Meditating on Scripture can and should be a real-time experience of communion with the living Christ.” Not only are we called to see Christ in all of Scripture, it is through Scripture that we encounter and are transformed by Christ.

All the themes in the Old Testament find their fulfillment in Christ. All the flawed “heros” in the Old Testament point to the need for a perfect “Hero,” Jesus. The Good News of the New Testament has Jesus at its core. The Bible is given to us by God the Father, used by the Holy Spirit so that we might come to know Jesus Christ. Lawson Murray in Bible Engagement Basics, writes “Scripture invites us to connect with the person, attributes and life of Christ. We should know the Word of God and know the God of the Word. It’s much more than connecting people with a book to be read or listened to. It’s about connecting with the One of whom the Bible speaks – Jesus Christ.” Any reading of the Bible that short changes Christ as the center ends up distorting and/or lessening the impact the Scripture will have on our lives.

The key question: How is Jesus revealed?

The most important question we can ask when we come to the Bible is “what does this passage reveal to me about God/Jesus and His purposes in the world?” The most important question is not “What principle does this passage teach” or “what does this mean to me?” Scripture has principles, but Scripture is primarily a revelation of who God is and most specifically who Jesus is. The Old Testament points forward to Christ. The Gospels reveal Christ through His life, death and resurrection, what He taught and through His actions. The rest of the New Testament makes Christ known through the understandings of Him in the early church.

Transformed by love

It is hard to change. Real change, deep change, comes from the heart. In the long run, we do what we love. If we don’t love something, we aren’t able to keep up the motivation very long we need to make real change in our lives.

Change is part of spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is about loving God and loving others (Matt. 22:37-40). Our sinful nature causes us to tend to love only ourselves, using God and others for our own self-interest. Seeing Christ as the center of Scripture is a means to falling more deeply in love with God. It is in Scripture that we can catch a vision of the amazing love of Christ (Eph. 3:16-19). As we truly catch a vision of our deep need for Christ and Christ’s love for us, we fall in love with Him and are motivated to work with the Holy Spirit to make the real changes needed in our lives. We don’t change by trying to be good to please God so He will bless us (or at least not hurt us), we change when we delight in God, spend time with Him, and He transforms us into His image. It is the love of Christ that inspires us, captures our hearts and minds, and compels us to obey. We start to obey God because He is our loving Father who believes in us, forgives us when we fall short and calls us to be our best.

When we grow in our love for Christ, we grow in our love of Scriptures. It is through the Bible that we meet and know Christ. In Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “We want in any case to rise up from our meditation in a different state from when we sat down. We want to meet Christ in his Word.” Kevin DeYoung in Taking God at His Word, teaches that “”What we believe and feel about the word of God are absolutely crucial, if for no other reason than that they should mirror what we believe and feel about Jesus.” It is when we catch a vision for the Bible being the means to grow in our love for and relationship with Jesus that our engaging the Bible will become a “must” in our lives and not an “ought to”.

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