In a group setting, if you read a bible passage about Jesus and his disciples aloud and then ask people who did they envision themselves as in the story, typically normal people will align with the disciples while pastors will perceive themselves as Jesus.
This can reveal a pastor’s inflated messaniac view of himself; it exposes his pressure to feel the weight of responsibility for the flock; and the desire to be Christ-like examples to his congregation.
In doing so, however, these pastors make horrible preachers, because they turn most texts into moralistic lectures about living right. Scripture, however, is not about me. Scripture is about Jesus, and what Jesus had done for me.
Tim Keller explains this well when he writes,
“There are, in the end, only two questions to ask as we read the Bible. Is it about me? Or is it about Jesus? In other words is the Bible basically about what I must do or about what he has done?
Consider the story of David and Goliath. If I read David and Goliath as a story that gives me an example to follow then the story is really about me. It is an exhortation that I must summon up the faith and courage to fight the giants in my life. If I accept that the Bible is ultimately about the Lord and his salvation, and if I read the David and Goliath text in that light, it throws a multitude of things into sharp relief!
The very point of the Old Testament passage is that the Israelites could not face the giant themselves. Instead, they needed a champion who would fight in their place–a substitute who would face the deadly peril in their stead. And the substitute that God provided is not a strong person but a weak one–a young boy too small to wear a suit of armor. Yet God used the deliverer’s weaknesses as the very means to bring about the destruction of the laughing, overconfident Goliath. David triumps through his weakness and his victory is imputed to his people.
And so does Jesus.”
Imagine reading and preaching the Bible from this perspective.
Suddenly Abraham’s faith to leave his country so he could be a blessing to all the nations is not an admonishment for us to have faith like Abraham in order to earn God’s blessing, but a foreshadowing of Jesus leaving the heavens for us.
Suddenly, Isaac being carried by his father to the altar is not about how far are we willing to surrender our lives, but a nod towards a lamb who was slain for us.
Suddenly, Solomon’s wise ruling about the squabbling mothers over a child becomes not about us seeking wisdom but about the baby Christ being torn apart by our stubborness because we echo the blood-thirsty demand of the second mother and join the mob screaming, “Crucify him!”
When you read the text from this vantage point it draws you towards awe, gratitude, and peace, because you no longer feel the anxiety of not being good enough. Instead you dwell in a God who has ordered all of life to tell His Story.
So, as you read the bible ask what does this tell me about Jesus?