Last week we looked at the idea of being a Gospel-centered church. If you missed it, I would suggest you read it in its entirety here. The big idea is that a Gospel-centered church or Gospel-centered theology flies its rallying flag over the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the most important theology in Scripture.
This week I will address Jesus-centered theology. We will see that Jesus is what all Scripture is about and how this changes our understanding of Scripture. Next week I will discuss cross-centered theology as we wrap up this three-part series.
Jesus-centered theology is the understanding that all of Scripture is about Jesus. When we say this, we are not saying that we read Jesus as each personal story told throughout the Bible. We are talking about this on a macro, not micro, level. In other words, all of Scripture relates, overall, to Jesus.
This theological idea comes from Scripture and is found in John 5:39-40 and Luke 24:27. Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (ESV).” So Jesus himself said that even the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, and the prophets are about Him, at least in a big picture idea.
In John 5:39-40 Jesus says that the Scriptures are about Him. It is interesting that even in a book like Revelation we find that the larger context is actually about Jesus. If you asked most people what they thought the book of Revelation was about they would probably believe it’s about the end times. Revelation 1:1 states that the book is “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” So the big idea of revelation is not the end times, but primarily Jesus.
So how does the idea that Jesus is the center of Scripture affect the way we understand the Bible? How can it change our idea of who God is? Will this theology change the way we think about ourselves?
First, it changes the understanding of the Bible as being primarily a self-help book. If we think Scripture is primarily about us, or the way we live, we will miss the fact that Jesus is our primary example of how to live the Christian life. I will speak more about this next week.
If we only look at Scripture as being a self-help book, or list of moral codes primarily, then we will believe that we are the most important person Scripture is talking about. If we, however, see Scripture as primarily being about Jesus, then we will see Jesus as center of the universe and not us. That is a major ramification of how we view ourselves and God.
Second, if we see Scripture as Jesus-centered, we will see Jesus in more of Scripture. If we look at a book like one of the prophecy books as mere “future telling” we will neglect to see Jesus. If, however, we look at a book of prophecy in the Old Testament from the standpoint of Jesus being the overarching theme, we will discover several things. We will see how those people anticipated Jesus, or better yet, the Messiah. We will also see how important the Messiah, and therefore God, was to those people and how it affected their lives.
Third, if we see Scripture as Jesus-centered, we won’t see rules themselves, but how Jesus lived them out or fulfilled the law. When we speak of being kind to our neighbor, we can look to Jesus to see how He handled those things. When we talk about having a faith that thrives during suffering, we know that we have a high priest who obeyed God and kept His faith during the trials of life (Hebrews 4:15). Rules are replaced with real life. It is Scripture becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
Lastly, if we see Scripture as Jesus-centered, it advances from the academic to the relational. What we once saw as rules, we now see through the lens of wanting to properly obey because out of our love to the Savior (John 14:15). We interact in it in a way which which is personal.
Do you see Scripture through the lens of Jesus-centered? Is Scripture merely academic to you, or is it relational as well? Think through whatever you are studying right now in your devotions or at church. How does being Jesus-centered affect the way you study that subject or book right now?
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