September 1, 2014

The Jesus Section

One of the things – probably the thing – I love most about preaching from the Old Testament is discovering how various books and passages point us forward to Jesus (see Luke 24:27). Sometimes the ‘way to Christ’ is more obvious than others – maybe a direct prophecy about Him or His kingdom (like Isaiah 53 or Daniel 7), or a fairly obvious foreshadowing (like the Passover lamb, or the serpent on the pole). But other times, we have to think a little bit harder – not to find hidden meaning (not at all!), but simply to think about all Scripture Christianly. And I enjoy being forced to do this when I preach through the Old Testament. I enjoy having to ask myself: ‘Now how am I going to preach the Messiah from this passage?’ There is always a way! And I very much delight in finding it, and showing it to God’s people week by week. I delight in getting to what you might call ‘the Jesus section’ of each Old Testament sermon!  And, praise God, many who read these lines will have pastors who feel the same!

Have you noticed that there is a ‘Jesus section’ to your pastor's Old Testament sermons? I hope so! Perhaps you’ve even begun to anticipate it, something like the ‘aha moment’ when you are watching a mystery show. Maybe, in our context, I’ve made it too much like that; too predictable: ‘O, here comes the Jesus portion – I could see it coming, couldn’t you?’

But if my sermon crafting does not always have the subtle quality of a master weaver; if I sometimes telegraph the way to Christ like a quarterback who only ever stares at his primary receiver … I hope that even that has been instructive! I hope my hearers have learned, by it, that we are always going to get to Jesus; that He is the ultimate aim of our studies, no matter the passage. I unashamedly love to stare down my favorite receiver! And I hope my people have come to enjoy looking for Him with me! And I hope you have come to love ‘the Jesus section’ of the weekly sermons at your church – not because your pastor is necessarily the most adept at getting there … but simply because you love Jesus; and cannot wait to see His silhouette arise and be praised each Sunday morning!

What a strange thing preaching is – in more ways than one! But in this context I have in mind that it is an odd thing that men and women come back and sit in the same seats, week after week, to continually hear someone give hundreds of speeches about the same historical figure! Strange, if we stand back and think about it from an outsider’s perspective. But completely logical, and normal, and glorious if we know Christ! For, if the living God took on human flesh and human nature, “and dwelt among us”, and loved like no one ever loved, and died for our sins, and rose again, and promised one day to return and make “all things new” … where else could we possibly want our focus to be on a Sunday morning? “He is altogether lovely” (KJV)! ‘So yes … show us Jesus, pastor! Show Him to us from the plain black and white of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Show Him to us in the epistles, and in the Revelation. And, by all means, show Him to us in the sundry ways that He stands forth on the pages of the Old Testament. Preach about Daniel’s resolve, and Hosea’s mercy, and the meaning of all the various furnishings of the tabernacle … but make sure not to leave out the Jesus section!’

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