If you’ve ever really paid attention to the way the apostles handled the Old Testament, it may very well drive you crazy. At least, I think it would most modern-day seminarians. For there was nothing systematic about their interpretation of scripture; it was all a revelation of Jesus Christ, plain and simple. At the moment I’m thinking specifically of the quotations we find in the book of Acts. It’s like after the Spirit came on Pentecost there was an explosion of illumination, and suddenly these men saw Christ everywhere and in all things.
See Peter before the multitudes: “You will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.” This is Christ.
Or the apostles when they prayed to the Lord upon being released from their arrest: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Anointed.” This too is speaking of Christ.
Then you have Stephen before the council, on trial for his life. With one sweeping motion he shows the entire OT drama to be a prefigure and a pointer to Jesus Christ. All of it was speaking of Him and leading up to Him.
And Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth.” Again, Christ!
It just impresses me how much the apostles were centered upon Jesus Christ. For them, Christ was everything. He was all. And He was the key to understanding the scriptures, for the scriptures were to them an embodiment of Him. In the words of T. Austin Sparks, “God has not first of all written a book, He has written a Person.” That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the scriptures, both Old Testament and New, have been given to us to show forth Him.
Nothing sets this forth as clearly as Luke 24: When the two disciples on the road to Emmaus encountered the risen Christ (though at first they didn’t know who he was), He opened their understanding of the scriptures by showing them how all of it pointed to Him. In essence, the Lord Jesus held His own personal Bible study, and the only subject He spoke on was the subject of Himself! In doing so He took them beyond their limited understanding of the Old Testament as merely a collection of writings, histories, poems, and prophecies, to the point at which it became a revelation of Himself. And let me tell you, when they saw the scripture for the first time in the light of Jesus Christ, their hearts burned within them! For the first time they saw the meaning behind it all, and in that moment their sorrow was transformed into joy, their despair into hope, and their sadness into great expectation!
The Lord, I believe, would do the same for us. He would lead us out of our limited apprehension of the scripture as a mere religous textbook into a place of beholding Himself behind every word and every story. As He did with the apostles, the Holy Spirit would move us towards a Christ-centered hermeneutic, where our hearts are opened to the true meaning of the letter we so very little know.
So brother, that leather-bound book you hold in your hand it not a manual on how you are to live the Christian life. Nor is it a collection of doctrines and practices you’re supposed to learn how to believe and follow. It is the written record of the revelation God has given of His Son, and the story of a people who first knew Him when He came into this world. That story is continuing to this day, and you and I are invited to play our part.
Here’s a little exercise for you to try. When you come before the Lord today, open your Bible to Colossians 1:15-20. Read the scripture out loud, then be silent as you consider it. Set your heart upon Christ who lives and moves within you. Behold Him. Then take those verses and turn them into prayer to God. “Lord Jesus, You are the image of the invisible God. Him who I cannot see I see when I look at you.” And with every word you pray, touch the Lord in your spirit. Allow Him to set your heart aflame with a vision of this great Christ of whom the scirpture speaks. Feel Him as He burns within you! And come away from your time with Him ready to tell someone about it. If you really touch Him then you won’t be able to do any less.
In doing so you will have experienced more of the intended purpose of scripture than if you were to spend hours cross-referencing verses and studying systematic theology. This I guarantee you.