05 November 2010

Reflections on Christ-Centered Bible Reading

Jesus is not only the most important figure in the Bible, he is the key that unlocks it all, the light that illumines it all, the organizing principle, the climax prepared for and then presented. Jesus is the point of the whole Bible.

Remove Jesus from Bible, and you don’t have a hero hall of fame with one of the portraits missing; you have a dark room without the light turned on.

C. S. Lewis famously said,
I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
The same point Lewis makes about Christianity and the world could be made about Christ and the Bible. Calvin helpfully said in the Institutes that the OT is the shadows, the NT is the substance. The whole OT is preparation for Jesus; the whole NT is proclamation of Jesus.

In stepping back and taking stock of the whole Bible, several things come immediately to mind in considering how Jesus makes the whole Bible click into place.
The OT has God create the whole world simply by speaking it into existence with his word. Jesus came and John says that he was the Word.

The OT calls for a man to leave dad and mom and cleave to his bride. The NT calls this a great mystery and says ultimately this is to echo Jesus and his bride.

The OT has God redeeming his people from Egypt, leading them out of bondage after passing over his people as long as they took refuge under the blood of a lamb. Jesus redeemed his people from sin, leading them out of bondage by being the Lamb and providing his own blood, so that God would pass over those who take refuge under him.

The OT has Israel tested for 40 years in the wilderness. Jesus was tested for 40 days in the wilderness.

The OT has God send bread from heaven to feed the people, to be received by faith. Jesus came and said he was the bread who came down from heaven to feed the people, to be received by faith (John 6).

The OT has a tabernacle and then a temple, a physical building that was the presence of God and a place for people to meet with God, with restricted access. Jesus said he was the temple (John 2), a physical body that was the presence of God and a place for people to meet with God, with unrestricted access.

The OT recounts at length the sacrifices offered on the altar to atone for the people's sins. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb, offered on the cross to atone for the people's sins.

The OT had generation after generation of priests, who oversaw the atoning work of sacrifice, but who also needed to make atonement for themselves. Jesus was the great priest who achieved the atoning work of sacrifice and didn’t need to atone for himself.

The OT speaks of Israel as a vine that does not produce fruit (Ps 80; Isa 5; Jer 2; Hos 10). Jesus said, 'I am the vine . . . and he who abides in me bears much fruit' (John 15). (See this book!)

The OT longed for a king, a coming ruler, descended from David, born in Bethlehem, to come and restore the people of God. Jesus was that king, who came and restored the people of God, giving them the restoration not that they expected but that they really needed.


Anonymous said...

What about the OT city of Refuge and then Jesus being the fulfillment of that?? hahahah!! Thanks for this Dane. You are my hero.

Gavin Ortlund said...

Great post!!! I'd like to quote this in a series we might do down the road sometime on Jesus as the center of the bible. This is super helpful.