Friday, 1 February 2013




It is now commonly understood that preachers must put the individual text into its whole-Bible context and preach Christ from every part of the Bible. Though I am a fierce proponent of this view, there is a danger that our preaching of Christ in every text will become a rote, intellectual exercise that merely rehearses the entirety of biblical theology; that may begin to sound the same every week; and that may omit an application to the listener’s heart. The preacher’s goal is not an intellectual or abstract one—rather, the goal is to change hearts with the gospel.

Old Testament professor Tremper Longman compares reading the Bible to watching a movie in which the shocking conclusion is so startling that it forces the viewer to go back and re-interpret everything he has already seen. The second time around, now that you know the ending, you can’t help but interpret every statement and every encounter in terms of the ending. You can’t not think of the ending any more when you watch the beginning and middle of the movie. The ending sheds light on everything that went before.

Similarly, once you know that all the lines of all the stories and all the climaxes of the inter-canonical themes converge on Christ, you simply can’t not see that every text is about Jesus. For example:

+ J esus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is now imputed to us (1 Cor. 15).

+ Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood that cries out for our acquittal, not our condemnation (Heb. 12:24).

+ Jesus is the true and better Abraham, who answered the call of God to leave all that was comfortable and familiar out of obedience to God.

+ Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was in the end sacrificed for us all. God said to Abraham, “now I know you love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love, from me.” Now we can say to God, “now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love, from me.”

+ Jesus is true and better Jacob, who wrestled with God and took the blow of justice we deserved. Now we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

+ Jesus is the true and better Joseph, who sat at the right hand of the king, and used his power to forgive and save those who betrayed and sold him.

+ Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord, who mediates a new covenant (Heb. 3).

+ Jesus is the true and better Job—the innocent sufferer who then intercedes for his foolish friends (Job 42).

+ Jesus is the true and better David, whose victory against Goliath was imputed to his people, even though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

+ Jesus is the true and better Esther, who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace but a heavenly one, and who didn’t just risk his life but gave it—to save his people.

+ Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so the rest of the ship could be brought in.

There are, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: It is either about me or about Jesus. It is either advice to the listener or news from the Lord. It is either about what I must do or about what God has done.

Jesus is the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the Lamb, the Light, the bread. The Bible is not about you—it is about him. | 7

In 1 Peter 1:10-13 the gospel is stunningly described as something that “even angels long to look into.” After all these centuries, wouldn’t the angels have the gospel down pat? Why would they love to look into the salvation of God? Because it is endlessly rich. There are endless implications, applications, and facets to it. We have just begun to scratch the surface.

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