The Lord’s Supper as the Origin of Christ-Centered Hermeneutics

jesus.jpegThere are many arguments for reading the Bible with Christ at the center. But where do they come from? Are they the product of biblical interpreters? Or is there a source found in Scripture itself?

In answer to this question, the best place to see the Bible’s Christ-centeredness may come from Christ himself. Not only does he say explicitly that all Scripture speaks of him (John 5:39), but in the Passover he interprets the most important event in Israel’s history as his own. As Alastair Roberts and Andrew Wilson note, “Jesus is specifically identifying the unleavened bread as representing his body, . . . and he is telling his Jewish followers to celebrate the Passover in memory of him, not just their liberation from slavery in Egypt” (29).echoes.jpeg

The Passover meal is perhaps so familiar that we miss how shocking this is. It would be like President Obama or President Trump taking the events of 1776 and applying them to himself: “When you celebrate Independence Day, you are actually celebrating me.” Do you see how obnoxious that sounds? Such is the case with Christ, with one exception—the Passover, Israel’s Independence Day, really is about him. As Jesus teaches his disciples, and proves by his death and resurrection, he is the substance to which the shadow of the Passover leads.

In fact, as Roberts and Wilson highlight in their book Echoes of Exodusall the historical events leading up, contained in, and issuing from Israel’s exodus from Egypt are fulfilled in Christ. And thus we should take note how Jesus himself, as the true Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), teaches us how to understand teh Exodus.

Within this Passover-shaped framework, with its rich array of images, the meaning of Christ’s death comes into sharp focus. Passover is, if you like, the crucial clue that helps us decipher a much larger puzzle.

  • Jesus is the firstborn Son, who dies in the climactic divine judgment under a darkened sky, opening up the doors of God’s house.
  • Jesus is the Passover Lamb, whose bones are preserved from being broken and whose blood proclaims freedom rather than condemnation.
  • Jesus is the angel of the Lord who goes before us, forging a path through the deep, so that we might pass through on dry land.
  • Jesus is the one who outwits and overcomes the great dragon in an almighty showdown, drowning Death in death at the very point when our Enemy presumes he has triumphed.
  • Jesus is the Shepherd like Moses, who is struck but leads his people out.
  • Jesus is the one who establishes a new covenant in his blood, sealed in a covenant meal that alludes to the covenant meal of Sinai (Ex. 24:11), and invites everyone to join him.
  • Jesus is the pure, unleavened Bread of Life, the Lord of the wine which symbolizes new creation, the one who eats the herbs of bitterness with us, and the one who explains to his descendants what all the symbols mean. (30–31, bullet points mine)

So where does the impulse to read the Old Testament with Christ as the central terminus? It comes from Christ himself. And in the Lord’s Supper, we learn from him how to see all the promises and pictures of the Old Testament as fulfilled in him. Therefore, as Christ-centered hermeneutic is not the creation of later scholars; it is the application of Jesus instruction in the Upper Room.

To that end let us pick up God’s Word and feed on Christ from every part of the Scripture.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds