Over our 25 years, HEARTLIGHT.org has passed along the creative blessings of many famous authors who graciously shared their writing with our readers. This year as we celebrate "Shining the Light" for a quarter-century, we will repeat some of Phil's previous posts over the years. We hope this focused message on Jesus as our calls you to a deeper discipleship.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15 — underlined for emphasis).
Joshua's dad wanted to know what his pre-school son's teacher had taught him in Bible class. So, his dad asked him on their way home from church. The dad wasn't interested only out of fatherly concern. Joshua's dad was on staff at the church. To answer, Joshua folded his arms across the chest, then, with a stern look, said, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! That's all they want to talk about is Jesus!"
The Bible is a rich library of inspired literary types — poetry, prophecy, hymns, psalms, oracles, narratives, sermons, letters, parables, proverbs, and laws. For followers of Christ, however, Jesus must be at the center of all of it. While Joshua may have wanted more diversity in his Sunday school curriculum, his teachers had found the heart of the matter: Jesus!
Putting Jesus at the center doesn't mean the rest of Scripture is unimportant, irrelevant, or uninspiring. Instead, the story of Jesus becomes the lens through which the rest of Scripture comes into focus. Jesus is the tuning fork that brings harmony to the rest of the Scriptures.
The New Testament books in the Bible make this claim in various ways.
Paul's words written to Timothy, his apprentice in ministry, are but one example — see the Scripture quoted at the beginning of this message.
Paul also told the Corinthians:
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Jesus' call for folks to "follow me"" (Matthew 4:19 — and many other times in the Gospels) are another example. But even more directly on target to our point, Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount, "You have heard that it was to people long ago... But I tell you ..." (Matthew 5:21-22 — also see verses 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44, for other examples) are his claim to be THE authoritative interpreter of Scripture.
Jesus' final words on earth drive home the crucial role his teaching plays in the life of God's followers. These words are known as The Great Commission, and they emphasize the importance of making disciples from people of all cultures, "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20).
The rest of the New Testament emphasizes the crucial place of Jesus at the center of everything. If his followers are to know God and find true life, Jesus must be their central focus. He is the one who has made God known (John 1:18). He is the way to God, the source of truth, and the one who brings us life (John 14:6). Jesus is the only name that can provide us with salvation (Acts 4:12). Jesus is God's ultimate revelation of himself (Hebrews 1:1-3). Jesus is God come to earth in human flesh to reveal the Father to us (John 1:14). Jesus is the goal of our spiritual maturity (Colossians 1:28-29). The Holy Spirit is at work shaping our lives to become like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus is the goal his followers are to attain as his Body (Ephesians 3:12-16).
So what's the point?
While the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, is crucial and vital for us, Jesus is the authority, the goal, the truth, the standard, and the measure of our faithfulness. His character and compassion are the tests of our orthodoxy and loyalty. Our goal as his followers is to become Jesus' bodily presence in the world. His concern for people — lost, broken, forgotten, last, abandoned, foreign, rich and poor, young and old, powerful and powerless — must be our passion.
As followers of Jesus, let's not let anything or anyone take Jesus' place. If Joshua were to look at our lives, let's make sure he would say, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! That's all they want to talk about is Jesus!"
Do you feel like we've lost sight of Jesus being the center of everything in our churches today?
If so, how do we move closer in the direction of living with Jesus as the center of everything?
Do you believe that Jesus must be the center of how we understand and obey Scripture?