Jesus: Center of it All

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It’s All About Jesus

Long before I ever dreamed of becoming a pastor (or even of being a Christian!) I took a class in public speaking. It was in that class that I learned “the Communicator’s Formula”. It says: “Tell them what you are going to say, tell them what you want to say, then tell them what you said”. That is very good advice indeed and it has served me well now for nearly forty years.

A few years later, as a student of biblical theology, I was intrigued by a pattern in Scripture sometimes identified with the words “Prophecy”, “Fact” and “Interpretation”. It underscores the reality that all through the progress of revelation, God has alerted us beforehand to what He is planning to do through the phenomenon of prophecy. He then acted redemptively in salvation history, and finally explained (after the event) the significance of what He has done. In fact, in a rather simplistic way, one could look at the whole Bible through this interpretive grid and successfully summarize its contents. The Old Testament is full of prophecy and types that tell us in advance about what God is going to do to redeem the world. The Gospels record for us the facts regarding the invasion of human history by the God-man and the sacrifice that He made on our behalf. Finally the Epistles explain the meaning of the cross and resurrection and help us to understand both what God did in the person of Jesus and what it means to us who are the objects of His redeeming love.

Jesus used this same approach when he met the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus on the day of his resurrection. With his identity hidden from them, he asked the men why they were so downcast. After hearing their explanation of all of the events surrounding his crucifixion and their own doubts concerning the report of the women regarding his resurrection, the Master proceeded to open the Scriptures to explain all that they taught about Him.

I have no idea how long it took for them to finish their walk that day (Emmaus is about 8 miles from Jerusalem). We are not told anything about which passages of the Law, the Prophets and the writings Jesus used. I can, however, make a few educated guesses. I’m pretty sure he would have started with the creation account in Genesis one. He would have re-told that story, emphasizing the role that he had in the Creation of the universe. When he referenced the words of God “Let us make man in our own image” he might even have asked “Who do you think God was talking to there?”

In re-telling the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall, I think he would have taken the time to explain the first promise of a Savior— “ the serpent will bruise his heel, but he will crush the serpent’s head”. He would then have explained how that was fulfilled on the cross.

In a hundred other passages he could have stopped— Abraham and Isaac on Mt. Moriah— “That was about me!”; the Passover lamb— “It was all about me!”; the serpent in the wilderness— “Me again”; the opening words of Psalm 22— “Have you heard anything like that recently?”; Isaiah 53— “That’s a description of me.”; the fourth man in the fiery furnace— “Me again!”

By the time they arrived in Emmaus, those disciples had learned to read the Bible in a whole new way. The lesson they had learned was this: It’s all about Jesus!

When I first became acquainted with The Christian and Missionary Alliance, I was perplexed by what I thought to be a lack of doctrinal precision. I wanted to know if this church was Reformed or Wesleyan in its theology and was shocked to discover that it was neither. I tested the waters with a few other theological “litmus tests” and found that though its commitment to the authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ and a few other basic issues was unshakable, the Alliance took no definite position on many secondary issues. The people I met did not want to debate theology. They just wanted to talk about Jesus Christ— our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King. For them, it was all about Jesus.

Thirty seven years later, I sometimes hear people say that The Christian and Missionary Alliance does not have a theology and that our emphasis upon the Fourfold Gospel of Jesus Christ as our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King is too simplistic. Perhaps they are right, but I want to hold on to the Emmaus road lesson: It really is all about Jesus!

By Rev. John F. Soper, former vice president for Church Ministries

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