Wade's Weekly Word

Professor Peter Enns, in a Westminster Theological Journal article asserts that we should use a Christotelic (Chris-tow-tea-lick) method of interpreting Scripture. The term is made up of two words Greek words, “Christ” and the word “telos,” meaning “end” or “goal”. What this means is that Scripture is a story that has a specific goal and that goal isn’t centered on Israel, the Church, or on informing us how to live, but is Christ himself. The death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ complete the Old Testament, just as the OT story cleared and paved the way for the story of Christ. Jesus is the key to biblical interpretation. All of Scripture is to be read through a Christotelic lens, or “Jesus Glasses”.

We must read the Bible Christotelically because all of Scripture is united in God’s great unfolding drama of redemption around the Star of the Story that finds its common theme in its testimony to Christ. The Old Covenant Scriptures foreshadow his coming, often in strange and ironic ways that we would never perceive unless some New Testament writer pointed them out for us. The New Testament records His coming and unzips its meaning. All the types and shadows of the Old Testament converge upon Him, center and circle around Him, and out of the side of the new Bridegroom emerges a new creation and a Bride that includes all believers from all backgrounds into a new covenant family of faith – the transformed Israel of God.
When we talk about finding Jesus in the Old Testament, we aren’t referring to ferreting out a few so called Messianic texts. When Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that the death and resurrection of Jesus took place according to the Scriptures, he’s not pointing to one or two isolated or arbitrary passages or obvious Messianic passages, but is claiming the entire story of the Bible and the entire history of the world up to that moment was being directed towards these climatic events as captured in the gospel of God. History, both Biblical and secular is not just purpose-driven, but Person-driven. All things are of Him, through Him and to Him! (Roms 11:36)

The New Testament writers basically retell the story of the world and Israel in light of Christ. It would be more accurate to say that what was concealed all along in the Old Covenant Scriptures from Genesis to Malachi, is revealed in their full light and glory in Christ’s Person and Work.

Putting on Jesus Glasses clarifies how Christ fulfilled all that went before. For example, He is the Word through whom the Father spoke the world into existence. (Jn. 1:1-3) He is the light that shined into the darkness. He is the One who came walking in the glory cloud of the cool of the day to meet Adam and Eve in Eden in loving relationship and laboring partnership. He, the Lamb slain before the earth was created, sacrificed that first animal and clothed them with skins after they had sinned. He is the victorious seed that crushed the head of the old serpent, the devil, as promised to Adam and Eve after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden (Gens 3:15)

He is the New and Last Adam, who now rules over creation and promises to fill it with those re-gened (regenerated or born again) in his image. As the new Adam, he subdues his enemies and protects his bride, the church, making her big, fat and wide, yet mean (in the good sense) and lean so that she is comprised of persons from every people group, who learn to reign in life through Him. He is her Shield and Defender that protects her from attempts by the serpent to destroy her.

He is the Greater Noah who takes his family onboard the ark of his church in order to save them from the flood of God’s wrath and lead them into a new world. He is the true Tower of Babel, connecting heaven and earth so that in Christ we can live “coram deo” – confidently and continuously before the face of God. He is the Greater Melchizedek, an eternal priest of God Most High, who feeds his people bread and wine and receives their tithes. He is the promised seed of Abraham, born of the “barren” womb of the virgin by the Spirit’s power. Like Isaac, he is sacrificed by his father, and received back from the dead. He is the Greater Jacob who claims his birthright and in brokenness is blessed with a great posterity. He is Jacob’s ladder, extending into the heavens, on which we ascend into God’s sanctuary. He is the Greater Joseph, who has been humiliated and left for dead by his own brothers, but is then vindicated and exalted. As world ruler, he saves the nations by offering bread and wine from his own table.

He is the prophet greater than Moses, who leads the exiled people in a greater exodus into a greater promised land. He is the New Joshua, who leads his people in a new conquest of the earth with the sword of the Spirit to make disciples of all nations. He is the Real Temple of which the OT Temple was a replica -- the very presence of God dwelling with men. He is the final sacrifice, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the Passover Lamb who keeps away the Angel of Death and offers his own blood as the firstborn of Israel’s death and his flesh as their food. He is the final Judge, the One more shrewd than Ehud, stronger than Samson, and far superior to Gideon. He is Great David’s Greater Son, who is God’s anointed, who was divinely appointed and will not be disappointed. He defeats the giant goliath of Satan and finally ascends to the throne and takes possession of the kingdom. He is the one wiser than Solomon, who builds the Lord’s true house and delights the bride with his love, and is made unto us redemption and wisdom ( 1 Cors 1:30). He is the Suffering Servant promised by Isaiah, on whom the Lord laid the iniquity of us all. He is the one who inaugurates the New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah, and pours out his Spirit as prophesied by Ezekiel. Like Jeremiah, he is a weeping prophet, who announces judgment on Israel and the temple and yet promises and produces a new covenant which will never fail because it is made not with men but between Father and the One Man – the Son – and all those in Christ become covenant partners. Like Ezekiel, he is the Son of Man, who executes judgment on the temple and builds a temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

He is the stone cut without hands, seen by Daniel, whose kingdom grows to fill the earth. He is the Greater Ezra, building a better temple, and the Greater Nehemiah, building a city with heavenly foundations. He is the one who gives Sabbath rest so that as New Covenant believers we work from a position of rest symbolized by our gathering on resurrection day –every Sunday – the first day of the week and then go to work. In the OT, Israel worked toward rest and not from it as the labored six days and then rested on the seventh. Jesus is the Tree of Life, the Rock in the wilderness gushing with living water, the cornerstone on which unbelievers stumble and on which the house of God is erected. (I am indebted to Mark Horne for much of the above. Visit his website and read more in what he calls the “Christotelic spiral: -- http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/the-christotelic-spiral). Truly as Paul asserted in 2 Corinthians 1:20, all God’s promises find their “Yes” answer in Him. Everything written in Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets is fulfilled in him. All things center, circle, and climax in Him as He is all in all.

Some would suggest that reading the scriptures Christotelically is nothing more than allegorizing or spiritualizing the Bible in order to make it read the way we think it should read. Quite to the contrary, for we see that as the biblical drama unfolds, Father God is taking His people through spiritual kindergarten with lots of shadows, or picture lessons, such as the Passover, the Tabernacle, and the annual feasts in order to prepare them for the Substance, the Reality behind the rituals in the coming of His Son. By writing certain patterns (or types) and symbols into His Big Glory Story such as we see in the creation of the earth, corruption by sin, catastrophe by the flood, covenant with a few in order to produce the Seed  that would reproduce multitudes of sons, God paved the way for the revelation of Christ. God’s prior work in history serves as the template for understanding his work in Christ’s mission.

For those of us who grew up in evangelical churches, we heard the great stories in the Bible from toddlers through the teens, but for the most part we were only told the moral lessons of the Bible stories without being given the main line or the real meaning behind and beyond all these stories. This omission cuts the heart out of the Bible. “Sunday school stories are then told as tamer versions of the Sunday comics, where Samson substitutes for Superman. David’s meeting with Goliath then dissolves into an ancient Hebrew version of Jack the Giant Killer. No, David is not a brave little boy who isn’t afraid of the big bad giant. He is the Lord’s anointed…God chose David as a king after his own heart in order to prepare the way for David’s great Son, our Deliverer and Champion” (Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament).

Living in and living out the bigger narrative of God’s Glory Story centered in its Star – King Jesus -- is the Christian rationale for every action and relationship. We work because God works. He made the world in six days and pours out his life to maintain it. But God also rested. He looked forward to the weekend and could enjoy it all the more for having achieved something worth doing! We also need to embrace the rhythm of work and Sabbath rest. We forgive because as Paul reminds us ‘God in Christ forgave you’ (Eph. 4:32). We tell the truth, turn the other cheek, forgive others, not because it will always make people like you (they may get enraged), or so that you advance your career prospects with the company. ‘Jesus does not say that if we turn our cheek we will not be hit. He just reassures us that if we live as he lived we shall be living the way God rules the world’.  The point is clear: Identity and Destiny are inseparably connected -- if you know who you are in the big story, you know what you’re here for.

When we tell the Big Story it causes a collision: "God's story collides with the human story and calls our story into question, forcing us to consider a new worldview in which Christ is the center" (Kevin Graham Ford). If you are still trying to live out your story based on your own personally, hand-scribbled script, then tear it up and join the cast of God’s Big Story and find your lines and learn to play your part. When you get truly captured by the Story and its STAR, you’ll be so captivated by it that you’ll be compelled to team up with the Star and the rest of his cast to love it and live it; to tell it, teach it, and take it to the ends of the earth until the end of time in order to enlarge the casts and bring Christian culture to the main stage. You’ll begin to understand that everything we do as believers — as those who are ‘in Christ’ — makes sense because it is connected to God’s Big Glory Story, illuminating who we are in Christ, who He is in us,  and what we are here for, and how to play our part. WOW! What a Star—Savior—Sovereign – What a Story!

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