Christ : The Greatest Expositor
Topic : Bible Interpretation and Preaching
Theme : The Christian’s responsibility of learning the Scripture and Christ-centered biblical interpretation
Scripture Reading : Luke 24:13-35
Main Text : Luke 24:25-27
The Master Key
Let me begin with a quote, with a bit of my own modification in it:
“A key that can open many locks is called a master key, but a lock that can be opened by many keys is a worthless(my modification) lock.”
Now, the word of God is definitely not locked or a hiding but it is open and a revelation. However it’s interpretation is not an open season. It can’t be understood how ever we wanted to. Every text must be interpreted with Christ as the interpretive key in mind. Our Lord Jesus is the master key that opens all locks so to speak. That’s our aim today. Let’s have Christ demonstrate for us how to understand all of the scriptures in light of his redeeming work. Christ is like a lens we put on to read and a failure to do so would distort our understanding of the Bible.
The Rebuke/Negative Proposition
After everything that just happened(the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Christ), the disciples were all confused. They never thought of a suffering and dying Messiah let alone a resurrected one. Christ had been telling them that the scriptures must be fulfilled; that it was necessary for the messiah to suffer before entering into glory. Not only that, there’s the testimony of the old testament concerning Christ but they still missed the point.
Now note, it doesn’t say that they lacked knowledge, evidence, or more info, or they don’t know how to reason. The problem is with their hearts. Our ignorance in scriptures is not an issue with the head first(though it’s necessary), but of the heart and disbelief first! Look at how Christ rebuked the disciples, (24:25) “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe..” R.C. Sproul stated it this way; “Jesus’ words are crucial; notice he doesn’t rebuke them for not believing the testimony of the women, but for not believing all that the prophets had foretold. When he calls them foolish he doesn’t mean that they were slow in their minds or unable to reason properly due to insufficient evidence, rather he was making a moral judgment. The problem was not their rationality, but their hearts; they were still cold to the truth of God.”
Another thing to take note of is the implication of the phrase “all that the prophets have spoken”. We can’t choose what we want to believe. Either we believe all that the scripture says or believe none of it. Cherry picking scriptures constitutes disbelief. They only believed in the glory part, not the suffering and shame part. Oh how much of the church today is like that!
Last subpoint before we go to the next point; a failure to see Christ in all of scriptures is also unbelief. Understanding and interpreting the Bible void of the centrality of Christ is tantamount to pride and self reliance, therefore unbelief to Christ. We can never fully understand the scriptures(old testament for that matter) until we see it under the lens of Christ’s redeeming work. We can never outgrow the gospel!
It is the responsibility of every believer therefore to understand and interpret the scriptures rightly. We don’t want to be in the category of slow hearted foolish Christians.
The Correction/Positive Proposition
Now after giving a sobering rebuke, Christ continued with what I’ll call “The Correction” or the possitive proposition. The previous point is about what shouldn’t be the case or the negative proposition. Here, Christ reiterated what he had been telling them for the past few days; “Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” This is a rhetorical question in the negative. A rhetorical question is not meant to illicit an answer from the listeners. The rule is if the question is in the negative, it can be converted into an affirmative statement. So Christ actually is making a statement; “It is necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enters into his glory.”
The disciples not only heard the prediction from Jesus’ mouth but also were very familiar with the old testament prophets’ predicament(Matthew 23:29-31, 23:37). They should’ve known that. It’s been the pattern in the old testament. According to A.T. Robertson, in his commentary on verse 27(which I’ll discuss extensively on our next point) says; “When the reference to “Moses and all the prophets” in 24:27 (“Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures”) is factored in, the logic of Jesus’ exposition is perhaps based on a correlation of the destiny of the prophets who were rejected, who suffered, and who were often killed with his fate as the Messiah, asserting that the Scriptures presage the eschatological king who would suffer before entering his glory.”
The suffering and death of Christ was part of a divine plan. It is not an accident of history which God only turns for the good. No, this is the only plan! No suffering, no glory. No death, no resurrection(Acts 2:23, 3:18, 4:28, 13:27, 17:3, Hebrews 2:10, 1 Peter 1:11).
In a court room, it is not enough to just make assertions without supporting evidence. In verse 27, Jesus then presents his evidence. Not one, not two, but that he called upon the whole old testament into the witness stand. Beginning with Moses and through the prophets. He interpreted to them the things written about himself in all of Scriptures(Acts 13:27, 15:21, Luke 24:44-46). Many scholars today asked which scripture did Christ fulfilled? Did he just fulfilled all the prophecies concerning him, or did he just fulfilled the demands of the law(sacrificial system), or the whole of the old testament with its types and shadows?
NIV Zondervan Study Bible whose General Editor was D.A. Carson, has been very helpful to me, it stated that “Moses and all the Prophets. Refers to “all the Scriptures.” Jesus does not fulfill only the Messianic prophecies contained in the OT; he fulfills the whole Scripture because it points to him as the climax of God’s delivering his people.
There are several implications:
(1) In terms of continuity, Jesus fulfills rather than abrogates the OT Scriptures.
(2) In terms of discontinuity, he brings something new as he completes God’s redemptive plan as contained in those Scriptures.
(3) In terms of interpretation, all Scriptures should be read in light of God’s work through Jesus, and these Scriptures in turn explain the significance of Jesus and his mission.”
Here are some clarifications as to what do we mean by Christo-Centric Hermeneutic:
- It is not an allegorical interpretation. Instead, we study the plain meaning of the text and see that it is indeed talking about Christ. It could be through messianic prophecies, sacrificial system, types, shadows and providential patterns and threads running throughout the old testament.
- It is understanding how all of old testament points to Christ both explicitly and implicitly.
- It is the primacy of the Apostolic interpretation in interpreting the old testament. There’s is no better interpreter than the Spirit inspired writers of the new testament.
In his commentary, A.T. Robertson said of verse 27 “..But what wonderful exegesis the two disciples were now hearing! Concerning himself (peri heauton). Jesus found himself in the Old Testament, a thing that some modern scholars do not seem able to do.” Since Jesus himself, read the old testament(not to metion co-author with the Holy Spirit) and found himself in it, who are we to pressume that we understand the text and missed out the very subject of the whole Bible.
Our statement of faith stated it this way:
“Christians must strive to interpret all of Scripture with the person and work of Jesus Christ as the central focus and interpretative key to understanding the Bible (Hebrews 1:1-2, Colossians 1:16, 2 Corinthians 1:20, John 5:39, Luke 24:27). All the persons, events, and institutions of the Old Testament find their culmination in Christ. Jesus is the last Adam (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:45), the second man (1 Corinthians 15:47), the true image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4), the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16), the final sacrifice (Romans 3:25; John 1:29), the authoritative prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22), the Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), the one who brings about the new exodus (Luke 9:31), the inaugurator of a new and better covenant (Luke 22:20), the true tabernacle (John 1:14), the eternal priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7), the end-time temple (John 2:19), the faithful son of David (Matthew 1:1), the King anointed with the Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17), and the suffering servant (1 Peter 2:24)”
After having a crash course on new covenant theology with Jesus, their eyes were opened(Luke 24:31). Take note that their eyes were kept from recognizing Jesus up until this point(Luke 24:16). Only then will the Spirit of God open blind eyes if they have someone to behold, namely Jesus. The verbs used for “kept from recognizing” and “open” are what scholars called the divine passive. This is God’s doing. See for example 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.” And now as they behold Christ, affections rises. The heart issue was first to be addressed by the revelation of Christ in the scriptures. They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?”(Luke 24:32). Only a Christ centered exposition, preaching or studying of the word of God can stir up cold hearts and open blind eyes.
First, Christ rebuked them of their ignorance and disbelief. Then turned them to the scriptures for corrections and explained to them himself in all of it’s pages. Then God opened their eyes and stirred up their hearts as they behold Jesus. Now we see the transformation. From confusion to certainty. Doubt to belief, and cowardice to courage. Look at verse 33-35, “So they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and those with them gathered together and saying, “The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.” They were changed. Only a Christ centered exposition of the scripture can really transform people. Besides, it is the great Shepherd’s voice that must be heard in order for his flock to follow. It is the face of our Lord Jesus Christ that must be seen for us to behold him.