Do not believe anyone who tells you that the way to focus on Jesus and His resurrection is to take the spotlight off the Bible. The entire Bible is a blessing to the believer, not a burden. It is not an obstacle to effective evangelism; it is our divinely authoritative source of gospel truth. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave is the same Spirit that inspired the Holy Scriptures (Luke 16:19-31, Romans 8:11, 2nd Peter 1:16-21).
Scripture is not only the product of human authors but is also, and ultimately, the product of the Divine Author, representing God’s self-revelation to humanity. Scripture is the very word of God addressed to human beings. What the Bible says, God says. The Bible possesses a divine unity as it progressively unfolds redemptive history, which points toward Jesus Christ, the one in whom all of the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” (2nd Corinthians 1:20).
Moreover, “the analogy of Scripture” (Scripture interprets Scripture) is a principle that Scripture itself commends to interpreters, not some foreign notion imposed on the text. The analogy of Scripture simply reminds the interpreter that the Word of God is infallibly auto-interpreting. “All Scripture is breathed out by God”, and the God who gives His Word is also the interpreter of His Word (1st Timothy 3:16). Understanding, and rightly trusting in the historical acts of God, is dependent on the Scriptural witness that provides us with the meaning of those acts. The outward events of Jesus’ life and ministry took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled. The Bible answers the question, “Which Jesus? What resurrection?”
The risen Jesus’ method to convince His disciples that He was resurrected and that the Messianic promise of redemption and kingdom remained was to exegete the Old Testament Scripture (Luke 24:27). He did this rather than providing some new sign or vision. The fact of Jesus of Nazareth’s resurrection does not answer the question of meaning apart from the biblical witness that it was the resurrection of the promised Messiah (Luke 24:44). In light of Jesus’ approach and teaching, it is clear that Scripture must have a vital place in the life of the believing community in order for it to faithfully focus on Jesus. It must be a priority to properly interpret and proclaim the Scripture to the Church and to the world so that we can communicate the meaning of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Paul follows Jesus’ example and focuses on the resurrection of Jesus by putting the spotlight on the Bible. Paul, preaching in Thessalonica, followed the pattern of Jesus before him: “As was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2-3). Before Agrippa, Paul was “saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22b-23).
In Paul’s lengthy chapter on the resurrection of Christ, he begins by tying the fact of the resurrection to the Scriptures: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1st Corinthians 15:3-4). Jesus’ acts were rooted in a deliberate word-fulfillment of the biblical testimony about the Messiah. He came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). The Scriptures testify of Him (John 5:39). The Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35). Fulfilling the Scriptures was Jesus’ vocation as Messiah. To take the focus off of the Bible is to take the focus off of the meaning of Jesus the Messiah and His resurrection.
The biblical text must not be ignored or abused in preaching. We are to preach Christ from the entire Bible, because proper exegesis demands it. Jesus holds Himself up as the key to understanding the Scripture (John 5:46). The written word, the inscripturated Logos, is not just the message about Christ; it is also the ministry of Christ. He is present and active in the truth of His Word. He is the incarnate Word who comes to us in the inspired Word. To faithfully explain the living Word is to rightly proclaim the written Word. They can be conceptually separated, but they function as one unified fount of authority. Christ comes to us and is present to us in preaching that is true to His Word (Romans 10:14-16).
The Bible is the written Word of God. Jesus is the definitive Word of God. Faithful preaching in every era centers on the definitive Word of God, Jesus, as revealed in the authoritative written Word of God, the Scripture. The diverse genres and epochs of the biblical witness cohere around the story of the kingdom of Christ. Faithful preaching proceeds theologically with awareness that the entire biblical storyline finds its meaning and culmination in God’s final word, Jesus. The gospel is the hermeneutical key and the theological center of the entire Bible.
Any attempt to sever Jesus from the Scripture, or vice versa, is a fool’s errand. To minimize either is to distort the other inevitably. There is a world of difference in suggesting that Jesus is the only thing in the Bible that fundamentally matters and believing that because of Jesus everything in the Bible matters. The first is a path to apostasy, and the latter is the ground of our hope now and forever. Like John, we are those who bear “witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:2).