The WHY of Me
I'm preaching through the Gospel of Luke this month. As I've pondered the earthly life of Christ through Luke's account, several things stand out that have magnified the wonder of Christ to me.
Firstly, Luke was a Gentile but he felt it necessary to carefully use Jewish and Hebrew terminology to present Christ to his Gentile audience. He uses language that was not commonly in use by those who did not worship God. "Christ." "Son of Man." "Son of David." "Messiah." Sometimes we become overly-sensitive about using "Christian-ese" without realising that there is a richness to the language that rather being avoided should perhaps be explained to our audience. Here in Tasmania this is a growing challenge. We live in a state that has the highest rate of: "No Religion" ticked on the Census. Added to this, Tasmania has the highest rate of "absentee church members" in Australia (people who identify a church as their church but do not regularly attend). We also seem to have a somewhat hostile political climate that arguably scorns Christianity and Judeo-Christian values. Presenting an accurate picture of Jesus to a culture not familiar with the Bible is a growing challenge for us.
And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. Luke 7:23
Sure, we could reinvent Jesus and "re-package" Him to a world more likely accept a kind, sensitive, misundertood, troubled, social worker. But this is not the Jesus that Luke is presenting to the world. Luke's Jesus is the One foretold by the Prophets. He is the One who came not to primarily set up relief-programs or give the world Millennium Goals. He came to save people enslaved, blinded, poisoned, and corrupted by self-deceiving-yet-enticing sin!
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
The second stand-out thing in Luke's account of Christ is just how much he wants his Gentile audience to become familiar with the Scriptures. He uses the established language of the Old Testament. He quotes frequently from it. And he then culminates his Gospel with this spiritual appetite whetting citation from The Christ -
¶ Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."Luke 24:44
Everything in the Old Testament was written about Me, Jesus said. Wow. With this one verse in his Gospel, Luke has just taken a pinch of salt and sprinkled in the spiritual mouths of his readers. Imagine being a Gentile unfamiliar with the Old Testament Scriptures and you've just read that! Everything in the Law of Moses - all the ceremonies, all the animal sacrifices, the layout of the Tabernacle, the conquest of Canaan, and the ministry of the prophets - point to Jesus!
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
F.W. Boreham writes in A Handful Of Stars, that many people miss the point of the Bible. Why read the Bible? Jesus gave a profoundly simple answer: Me. And F.W. Boreham suggests that this sublimely simple answer to the why question is confused by readers who are looking for laws to keep when they read the Bible. They are looking for the Bible's Prohibitions (Thou shalt not...) - the things that God forbids. They may ignore the Precepts (Thou shalt...) - the things that God commands be done. To read your Bible like this is to live as a pauper while have a million dollars in your bank account! "Everything written about Me" Jesus said. The Bible is firstly about a Person, not Prohibitions or even Precepts.
Why do people join Christ's church? For worship? Being a worshiper is high and noble calling. For fellowship? Being in fellowship is needed. We are told to worship The Christ. We are told not to neglect to fellowship (Heb. 10:25). But before we are called to worship or fellowship, we are called to follow Christ. We could call ourselves a Christian and worship Christ but if we are not following Christ, we are a Christian in name only. We could call ourselves a Christian and fellowship with other believers but if we are not following Christ we are deluded into thinking that our mere associations make us a Christian.
They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"Luke 24:32
Luke's Gospel present Jesus as Someone foretold in the ancient Scriptures. He presents Jesus quoting the Scriptures. He then closes his Gospel with the bold claim that all Scripture actually about Jesus! If we want to follow Jesus we must search for Him in the Scriptures. F.W. Boreham says that we must approach the Scriptures in the right order: The Person, The Precepts, The Prohibitions. By seeing the Person of the Scriptures our hearts are glowing with a warmth to do the Precepts of the Bible, and then are hearts feel revolt for the very things that the Scriptures Prohibit. We devote ourselves to the Person of Jesus. We delight to do His will. We despise those things He warns against. The order is important. The "why" is not a "what" but a "Who".
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures
Open your Bible today and you'll be opening more than a book. Join me in Luke this Sunday and it will cause you to join with Him on Monday. Why read the Bible? Because Jesus said, "It speaks of Me." The Why of Me is really the Why of Him.