See the Big Picture

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It is possible to read the Bible and miss the theme of the Bible. In fact I would say we often make that mistake. Sometimes we read scripture stories as isolated events. True, thousands of stories do take place in the Bible, but they are not isolated events. The Bible has one main character and one main theme. The main character of the Bible is Jesus and the primary story is His redemptive work for man. Have you ever wondered why the Bible has four books about Jesus’ life on earth (the Gospels of Matthew Mark Luke and John), and yet speaks little about His life before age 30? The reason is because the Gospels aren’t written for us to know about Jesus’ entire life. They are written to show us how God accomplished His redemptive work for man in History. Therefore, the gospels specifically deal with Jesus and his redemptive work. They point people to Him as eternal life. The Cross is the place He offered himself to redeem us.

The Bible wants us to see Jesus as the main character that intertwines His story and life throughout History. Jesus pictured the entire Bible as a book that pointed to Him.

Luke suggested this in his gospel when he rehearsed Jesus’ encounter with two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

Note the words “all the Scriptures.” This includes the Old Testament—Genesis through Malachi. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

Luke went on to say that Jesus opened the Scriptures to His disciples: “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”

In this passage, Jesus unveils Himself through the three parts of the Hebrew Bible: (1) the law of Moses (the Torah); (2) the Prophets (the Nevi’im); and (3) the Psalms, which represent the Writings (the Ketuvim).

These three sections make up the Tanakh—the rabbinic name for the Hebrew Bible. The way the New Testament authors quoted the Old Testament forms a pattern—a shared hermeneutic for understanding the Old Testament.

It is easy to see, then, that the source of this common hermeneutic was Jesus Himself. Jesus taught His disciples how to understand the Hebrew Scriptures, and this is reflected throughout the New Testament.

Jesus’ use of the Old Testament text was revolutionary for His time. As R. T. France points out, Jesus “applied the Old Testament in a way that was quite unparalleled. The essence of his new application was that he saw the fulfillment of the predictions and foreshadowings of the Old Testament in himself and his work.”

The early Christian church “was founded on this distinctive and revolutionary use of the Old Testament”—a usage that was handed down to the apostles by Jesus Himself. Jesus clearly said that He was the fulfillment of the entire Hebrew Bible (represented by the Torah, the Writings, and the Prophets).

Jesus said “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Consider this question with these texts in mind: If you were to ask Jesus what the Scriptures were about, what would His answer be?

R. T. France comments, “Jesus saw his mission as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures; not just of those which predicted a coming redeemer, but of the whole sweep of Old Testament ideas.”

In this regard, Jesus not only completes the Old Testament story; He fulfills it. But fulfilling doesn’t happen only in view of the accomplishment of its promises. As you will discover in this book, Jesus actually embodies the Old Testament. He “fills full” the ancient Text.

In a word, Jesus is the thread that holds all Scripture together. He is the prism that breaks forth its multifaceted colors. He is the lens that puts all of it into focus, the switch that sheds light on its dimly lit quarters, and the key that unlocks its meaning and richness.

We agree with a long tradition of theologians who do not view the Scriptures as a storehouse of propositions on every imaginable subject but instead discover the place from which the Spirit of God makes Christ known.

Or as Protestant Reformer Martin Luther has put in epigrammatic fashion: “Scripture is the cradle in which Christ lies.”

As with any great story, there are characters, sequence, conflict, climax, and resolution. Unlike any other story, however, this is a never-ending story. This story invites you to become part of it with its main character, who wants to merge His story with yours.

Let the Bible tell its own story to you. Trust the Jesus story as it moves from Genesis to Revelation. And see if the Holy Spirit doesn’t open your eyes to see the greatness of Christ anew and afresh.

May God’s Word do what it is intended to do, and connect you with the one who offers life, Jesus. May you read it’s pages to experience the one who has written His story throughout History so you may know Him.