Jesus is everywhere in the Bible. He is the meaning and purpose of every word, every story, every book, every genre, every section, every theme, every figure, every image, and every storyline. When you realize that, the Bible becomes like the movie, The Sixth Sense. Once you know the ending, you can’t help but see the clues all along the way. You see it everywhere. We need to develop a sixth sense for Jesus.
The Reformer Martin Luther said, “Take Christ out of the Scriptures, and what will you find remaining in them?” But seeing Jesus in the scriptures isn’t easy. It’s not automatic. Some of the greatest Bible readers in history have failed to see him. The Pharisees were the most proficient and diligent Bible readers in the history of the world. Yet what does Jesus tell them? John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”
The Pharisees weren’t the only ones missing the point. Jesus’s disciples did too. After Jesus’s resurrection, Luke 24:13-27 tells the story of two disciples on the Emmaus Road. Jesus approached them, unrecognized, and asked them what they were discussing. They said, “Well, we thought Jesus was the Messiah, but he was crucified, so I guess we were wrong.” Jesus responded with a reprimand, saying, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then he does something amazing. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
The Bible is one big, unified story about Jesus. Remove him, and you have nothing left.
I’m arguing for a Christocentric reading of the Bible because I think that’s what the Bible itself argues for.
Now, here’s what I’m not saying. I am not saying you can see Jesus’s name in every verse. You can’t even see it in every chapter. You can’t even see it in every book of the Bible. Esther doesn’t mention God’s name. But think of it like a trajectory. The tension builds with every story.
A Christocentric view of the New Testament isn’t as difficult because Jesus is mentioned by name so often. But what about the Old Testament? Though he is not named, we see Jesus everywhere. We find the pattern of Jesus—a Savior rising to redeem God’s people. We hear the promise of Jesus—one to come that will undo the curse and bring the blessing. We feel the presence of Jesus—divine help amid God’s people in all their struggles and sins.
As Tim Keller famously summarized it, Jesus is the true and better everything.
Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.
Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.
Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.
Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when 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 look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”
Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.
Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.
Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.