Last week we imagined a friend asks you, “Can you explain the big story of the Bible in a few sentences?” How would you answer them? Our answer was four words, Creation, Rebellion, Redemption, and Restoration.
Now imagine that the same friend asked, “So how does Jesus fit into that?” What would you say?
Big Idea: God has given structured Scriptures in order to tell a unified story revolving around Christ
My hope is that this post will help you to be able to look at the Scriptures, see the unifying story, and then explain how Christ is the hero of the story.
If we look at the Big Story of Scripture we see that Jesus is the one who created (John 1; Col 1), was promised (Gen 3:15; Isa 53), redeemed (Rom 3:23-24), and will rule (Rev 20). He is the center of all the stories and the Big Story. Without Jesus there is no story.
Let’s break it down a little more: Who are the Scriptures about?
1. We recognize that the NT is about Jesus. Generally speaking:
- The Gospels record how he changed the universe by coming to earth to dwell with man
- Acts explains how he changed history by giving new life to those who believed
- The Epistles show how he changes the lives of those who trust in him by the indwelling of the Spirit
- Revelation predicts how he will change the future as he once again dwells on earth.
2. What we often forget is that the OT is about Christ as well.
- Luke 24:27, 44-47- “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets (OT), he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself… 44 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 (OT) must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (OT), 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
- John 5:39, 45-47 – “You search the Scriptures (OT) because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me … 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me (OT). 47 But if you do not believe his writings (OT), how will you believe my words?”
- Acts 28:23-28 – “When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets (OT). 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
- 2 Tim 3:14-17 – “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings (OT), which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture (specifically the OT) is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
These are just a few specific references from the NT. We are not going to take time to look at all the prophecies, allusions, types, etc. found throughout the NT pointing to this same fact.
How are the Scriptures about Christ?
1. What it does not mean:
- Every passage contains a visible reference to Christ
- We must have a secret code to unlock the Christological significance
2. What it does mean:
- All texts lead us toward Christ (See Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching)
- Predictive of the work of Christ (Messianic Psalms; Isa 40, 53; etc.)
- Preparatory for the work of Christ (Mosaic Law – Gal 3:24; Grace – Rom 4:23-25; Sacrifices; Prophets/Priests/Kings; Passover)
- Reflective of the work of Christ (“What does this text reveal of God’s nature that provides redemption? What does this text reflect of human nature that requires redemption?”)
- Resultant of the work of Christ – “To preach matters of faith or practice without rooting their foundation or fruit in what God would do, has done, or will do through the ministry of Christ creates a human-centered (anthropocentric) faith without Christian distinctions.” (Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching, Kindle Locations 6063-6065)
Apart from Christ, both the Old and the New Testaments are devoid of saving and transformational power.
Now, you may be asking, “What about the OT readers? Did they see Christ in everything they were reading before he came?” That is a fair question. We do not want to read something into the text. Here is how I understand it. Imagine that you are looking at a flashlight head on. When someone is shining the flashlight into your eyes you can’t tell me much about the flashlight itself, but you know it is there. However, if you are looking from the backside of the flashlight, you see the flashlight and what it is illuminating. In the same way when we read the Scriptures from a post-cross perspective, we see the themes of Christ and his redemptive action running through God’s Word. Before the cross they only saw the light, but it was not easily discerned in most instances. After the Cross it is clear.
Here are two helpful quotes:
“Because the New Testament declares the Old Testament to be incomplete without Christ we must understand the Old Testament in light of its goal which is Christ. Jesus is indispensable to a true understanding of the Old Testament as well as the New” (Graeme Goldsworthy)
“It all dramatically affects why we open the Bible. We can open our Bibles for all sorts of odd reasons—as a religious duty, an attempt to earn God’s favor, or thinking that it serves as a moral self-help guide, a manual of handy tips for effective religious lives. That idea is actually one main reason so many feel discouraged in their Bible-reading. Hoping to find quick lessons for how they should spend today, people find instead a genealogy, or a list of various sacrifices. And how could page after page of histories, descriptions of the temple, instructions to priests, affect how I rest, work and pray today? But when you see that Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures, that he is the Word, the Lord, the Son who reveals his Father, the promised Hope, the true Temple, the true Sacrifice, the great High Priest, the ultimate King, then you can read, not so much asking, “What does this mean for me, right now?” but “What do I learn here of Christ?” Knowing that the Bible is about him and not me means that, instead of reading the Bible obsessing about me, I can gaze on him. And as through the pages you get caught up in the wonder of his story, you find your heart strangely pounding for him in a way you never would have if you had treated the Bible as a book about you.” (Reeves, Trinity, 82-83)
1. If I read Scripture without being pointed to Christ, I have missed God’s purpose for that passage.
Read that line again.
2. Seeing Christ as the hero of the unified story of Scripture should result in an increase in:
- Humility – we are not the hero of the story. We need the Hero!
- Reading – I am going to deliberately read the OT.
- Studying – I am going to think through the OT.
- Testifying – I can be confident about sharing Christ with others because he is the hero of the story.
- Worshipping – I will respond in worship to the incredible plan of God from eternity past.
- Dever, Mark. The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept. Crossway, 2005.
- ———. The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made. Crossway, 2006.
- Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. ZonderKidz, 2007.