In this series, we are looking at a set of tools to help us understand and interpret scripture effectively. We will call these tools our toolkit of truth. In the first part, we looked at classification and context. Now let’s move onto tool number 3.
TOOL 3: CHRIST-CENTREDNESS
What is the most powerful page in the Bible? The blank one in-between the Old and New Testament. Why? We have to view the whole of scripture through the lens of the message, life, death and resurrection of Christ.
Christ changes how we see everything. It is like seeing Star Wars trilogy from beginning to end and already knowing the crucial “Luke I am your father” plot twist. Apologies for those that don’t know that. The Titanic also sinks. Leo dies.
When Jesus encountered two men on the road to Emmaus he began to teach the greatest Bible study of all time and unveiled the scriptures through the lens of himself.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24 v 27
We find shadows, types, and precursors of Christ all over Scripture. From Genesis where he is the Seed of the Woman, to Revelation where he is the Alpha and the Omega. Every page whispers his name. Jesus is the visible image of an invisible God – all conclusions about the nature of God need to be put through the filter of Christ.
There is a great visual example of the supremacy of Christ in the story of the Mount of Transfiguration found in Matthew 17. Jesus reveals his true nature to three disciples alongside Moses (representing the Law) and Elijah (representing the Prophets) and a voice from heaven declares that we are to listen to Jesus. Hebrews echo this when it tells us that in the past God spoke through his prophets but in the last days God has spoken to us through Jesus. In other words – in word and deed- Jesus is perfect theology.
We don’t ignore or diminish the rest of the Bible because of Christ but we do need to reframe it. Christ is our lens through which we view and interpret the scriptures with care.
One example of a Christ-centred lens in practice is how we see the Old Testament Law. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. When you read the Old Testament Law today you have to read it as if you have already seen the end of the Movie. The laws are all reframed in the light of Christ…
- What about the OT Sacrifice Laws for worship? Why did you leave your lamb and doves at home this morning? Sacrifices were fulfilled in Christ’s once and for all death – they are obsolete.
- What about the OT Ceremonial Law? Festivals, feasts, ceremonies, circumcisions, clothes or customs that were meant to provide right standing with God, or distinguish the Israelites from other nations are no longer needed as we discover our new identity “in Christ”. Jesus touched unclean lepers. The New Testament declared that all foods are lawful to eat. Why? In Christ purity now comes from the inside out not outside in.
- What about the OT Moral Laws? The law is now summarized as love God and love your neighbour. Certain laws about love, relationships, and ethics not only still stand, but form the foundation of the life in the spirit we are now empowered by GRACE to live. We know that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus got to the heart of the matter – internalizing the external law – for example, “Do not commit adultery” becomes “Do not lust”. This is why we need the spirit and grace. Everything changes with Jesus.
Taking a Christ-Centred approach to scripture is like viewing the landscape from the heights of the mountaintop and not the depths of the valley. Everything looks different from the right perspective. In THE TOOLKIT OF TRUTH, Christ-centeredness is key.