Why He should stoop to lift me
Up from the miry clay,
Saving my soul, making me whole,
Though I had wandered away…
(Hymn; Deeper And Deeper; Oswald J. Smith)
Of all the needs of humankind today, without doubt the greatest is to know Jesus. That goes, not just for the untaught masses of the world in third world countries, but for even the most devout of Christians here in America, the land of religious freedom and churches of every possible description on every corner in every town in the country. With all the religion in the world – Christian religion, that is – one would think that the impartation of knowledge of the central figure would be the predominant endeavor of the churches and the most comprehended subject in all the world. But when we really look and listen to what is going on, what is being said, what is being taught, this is definitely not the case.
This is so because we treat the Bible, our primary source of knowledge of the divine, as being about us and not about Jesus. To us, the Bible is a divinely given road-map to guide us from earth to heaven. It is not. We treat it as a do-it-yourself manual on living. It is not. We treat it as a source book on apologetics, dealing with evidences for the existence of God by which we may win arguments with unbelievers. It is not. While it may legitimately may be used in these ways, these nor any other reason or reasons that do not see Jesus, the unique Son of God as being the reason for the existence of the Bible we simply do not understand the Bible.
The Bible is the story of Jesus – not just the human who was born in a manger in Bethlehem who grew up in the town of Nazareth, who walked the hills of Galilee and who taught in the synagogues Capernaum, on the mountains and by the shore of the sea, who walked on water, healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, made the lame to walk, fed the hungry, shepherded the lost, but Jesus who was the eternal, self-existent one, the Son, the second person of the Godhead. It is his story from even before creation, in creation, in the events of the history that unfolds through its pages, to the present and on into the eternal future.
His story, unfolded in many different ways, told in history, in poetry, in types and shadows, prophecies, prefigured in great men, lived out in the life of the nation of the Jews and culminating on the cross on which he died outside Jerusalem two millenia ago is the whole point of the Bible. That story is still being unfolded in the present in his people and in the events that are leading up to his full manifestation in glory when he comes again as the judge and savior of all the earth – the conquering hero, victorious over all enemies such as sin and its pale offspring, death – over the archenemy, Satan – and even over hell itself.
His story, as far as we can know, begins, not with the beginning of creation in Genesis 1:1, but in eternity, outside of time, and hence, incomprehensible to us. We human beings, even the writers of what we have today as the Bible, use accomodative language such as “before creation” or “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4, etc.) because we can only understand in terms of what we experience – that is, in terms of time.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
These words from the apostle who identified himself as “the one Jesus loved” have prompted scholars to label his gospel “the second Genesis” or the beginning of the “new creation.” Paul affirms the same truth in Colossians 1:15-17 with the additional information that the continuation of that creation is by his power.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
The various aspects of the creation are manifestations of his nature. Light and life are particularly seen by John as originating in his being.
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5).
Thus, we cannot take a breath, smell a rose, drink water or wine, eat our favorite food, look upon a glorious sunset, caress a baby, love our wife or husband or anything of millions of the things we do and experience in this world without him. Even pagan poets recognized this, as Paul reminded the philosophers in Athens long ago.
… for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ (Acts 17:28).
The quotes Paul used were from the poem, Phaenomena, by Aratus, a great Hellenist poet, probably from Paul’s home province of Cilicia. Paul uses this poem by a recognized and respected author to argue the existence and place of the one true God in his creation. And we know from John’s words that this one was God who was manifested as a man, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ.
The same apostle presents Adam as a type, a foreshadowing of Christ (Romans 5:14). As Adam was the representative of the whole human race who led his progeny into sin, Jesus is presented as a kind of “second” Adam who represents the new redeemed humanity, a new creation through their faith in him(1 Corinthians 15:45).
Moses was a type of Christ, leading God’s people to new life in a new land. The nation of Israel was a type of Christ, servant to bless the nations, pouring her life out for the blessing of the whole world. He also typified Christ as the prophet of God, revealing God’s message and God’s law to the world.
David, in addition to being a forefather of Jesus, was a type of Christ as King, ruling over Israel, the then new creation of God as Jesus would be ruler upon David’s throne, which was God’s throne, over the whole of the new humanity.
The “I am” statements contained in the Old Testament (seven in Genesis, twenty-one [3×7] in Exodus, seven in Psalms, etc] are continued by Jesus in reference to himself in the New Testament. These statements tie him to the identity of God, the great “I AM,” the eternal, the self-existent One.
“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35,48,51).
“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
“I am the door of the sheep”(John 10:7,9).
“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11,14).
“I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
“I am the true vine” (John 15:1,5).
Neither time nor space will permit us to enumerate all the things that Jesus is, all that he is doing and all he will do, but will attempt to capsulize just a few of the many things that are true about him – things that can be found in the Bible. His birth fulfills numerous prophecies of the Old Testament. His life is the full and final revelation of God to man. His resurrection is promise and proof of our own resurrection. His gospel is the power to save. His life is the model – the pattern – for our own. The church is the present incarnation of himself and the way he presents himself to the world today.
We cannot open the Bible anywhere but that we see him. He is on every page and in every story. If we read the Bible and do not encounter Jesus we haven’t really read the Bible. We are not understanding of the Bible if we are not finding him everywhere we look. We may even say that Jesus is the key that unlocks the full meaning of both the Old and New Testaments.
This realization should come as no surprise to us. Jesus, himself, told us this. In dealing with the Jews and their condemnation of him for healing the invalid at the pool of Bethesda, he told them …
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…” (John 5:39).
The Scriptures are about Jesus, not about how they (or we) can have eternal life – that is, eternal life for man is not the primary message of holy Writ. He told his disciples that what was written about him in the Old Testament had to be fulfilled …
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44).
Did you get that? The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms were about him. He had been teaching them these things all the time he had been with them. Certainly there were specific prophecies about him in these writings, but the meaning goes beyond just the prophecies and types and shadows. He is the point of them all.
Into the will of Jesus,
Deeper and deeper I go,
Praying for grace to follow,
Seeking His way to know;
Bowing in full surrender
Low at His blessed feet,
Bidding Him take, break me and make,
Till I am molded, complete.
(2nd verse; Deeper And Deeper)