Take a good look at da Vinci’s portrait The Last Supper. What is the first thing you notice? It is probably Jesus. Everything about this picture is designed to draw your attention to him. I want my blog to be “God honoring” and “Christ centered” because that’s what the Christian life should be like. What follows is the 3-point sermon on why.
1) Jesus’ Ministry was Christ Centered
Jesus was all about humility, having the heart of a servant and doing nothing but directing people toward God. But there is no getting around the fact that Jesus is the way to get to God. Jesus himself said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” –John 14:6 All of John chapter 5 is about the relationship between the Father and Son, but I will point out 2 verses in particular. “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” Jn 5:18 And Jesus says of himself in 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…”
Most of John 8, like chapter 5, is a conversation between Jesus and a Jewish audience. It would be great to read the whole thing, but here is just a portion:
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them,“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. -John 8:54-59
Jesus loves us enough to do God’s will, that’s what it comes down to. He explains at the end of his earthly ministry that he humbles himself, even to death, so that God will lift him up. He knows that his name will lifted above every name but that it must be the Father that does the lifting.
2) Paul is Christ Centered
The Apostle Paul says in his greeting to the Corinthian church “I decided to know nothing among you except Christ and him crucified.” He doesn’t use big words or make long speeches; he wants them to learn nothing else from him but the saving power of the crucifixion. Paul writes several letters to churches and individuals, the body of his work eventually becoming about 2/3 of our New Testament. To the Philippian church he writes
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:5-11
I know that’s a lot of scripture, but notice that at the beginning Paul tells us to have the same mind in us. As Christians we should be thinking the same way that Jesus thinks about ministry. In Ephesians 5 he instructs husbands to love their wives the same way Christ loved the church “and gave himself up for her.” Paul seeks to be Christ-like and teaches that all Christians must do the same. He wants to share in his suffering and become like him in his death in Phil 3:10. Paul considers nothing to be more important than pursuing Jesus Christ. Colossians 1 describes the “preeminence” of the Christ:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. -Col 1:15-20
Wow! Paul describes the creation of all that exists, explains the incarnation and shares the gospel all in one paragraph. Besides Jesus himself, the Apostle Paul is perhaps the most important figure in the New Testament. And what does he want us to do? Know Christ.
3) The Bible is Christ Centered
I’ve quoted and referenced several passages of scripture. There are hundreds more. The Bible – 66 books by some 40 authors – has many characters and stories but conveys one message. The Bible is about how a holy God reaches out to an unholy and fallen people. At the center of the story is Jesus. The Gospel accounts are literally between the Old Testament and the rest of the New Testament. But the Old Testament and New Testament are part of that story as well, not just the biographical accounts of Jesus’ life in the Gospels.
In Genesis 2 God says “Let us make man in our own image,” and in Revelation 21 Jesus sits on the throne of judgement. Jesus is more than a baby in the manger, he is the second person of the trinity. The Nicene Creed describes the eternal relationship between the Father and his only begotten Son. As our great High Priest he is like Melchizedek in some ways and Aaron in others. There are many prophesies of his birth in the Old Testament, but Isaiah 53 is perhaps one of the most vivid descriptions of his crucifixion in scripture. Philip found the Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah and beginning there shared with him Christ. I could go on all day but let me arrive at the point: THE BIBLE IS ABOUT JESUS. I will spare you the other thousand references.
The term Christian was first used in the book of Acts to describe believers at Antioch. It was not they themselves who chose the title; it was outsiders who noticed a group of people that acted like Christ. “Little Christs” would be an accurate translation. Everything about our lives, from doing our jobs to raising our families, should have a Christ-like feel to it. We should be found doing the things that Christ did, and thinking about our neighbors the way he would think about them. We may not know what Jesus would do in every particular instance but if we get the right attitude in our heads it will affect everything we do.
Look at the picture again. Notice the center. Let’s make Christianity look like that.