Reflections on the Supremacy of Christ (Part 1)
In my previous post I argued that the Bible tells a story in which the culminating event – the coming of Christ – reframes everything that preceded it. Though it is all inspired, not everything in it should carry equal weight for us. Rather, everything leading up to Christ, including the portraits of God, must be reframed in light of the revelation of God in Christ, and especially in light of the crucifixion (which, as I’ve argued before, discloses the theme of everything Jesus was about).
This revelation disclosed a significantly new understanding of God that led to a significantly different way of reading the Old Testament. Speaking specifically about Paul, Neil Richardson notes that the revelation of God on the cross not only provided him with “ a new language about God, but also a new understanding of God.” In other words, the revelation of God on the cross reframes everything.
Jesus and the New Testament authors provide the precedent for this way of reading the Old Testament. In this and subsequent posts, I’m going to give a dozen or so indications from the New Testament that the revelation of God in Jesus, thematically centered on the cross, should be placed over, not alongside of, other portraits of God in Scripture.
At one point in his ministry Jesus said, “I have testimony weightier than that of John” (Jn 5:36). Interestingly enough, Jesus elsewhere claimed that, “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11). Jesus placed the words and ministry of John above any of the Old Testament prophets, and yet he told us that his testimony is “weightier” than John’s!
It’s clear that, while Jesus affirmed the inspiration of the Old Testament, he believed that John’s ministry and teaching carried more weight than any Old Testament writer and that his own testimony carried more weight than both. This means that, while everything in Scripture is inspired, not everything carries equal weight. We must consider all that we learn about God and his kingdom from Jesus to have more authority than everything that preceded him.
Think about it, and stay tuned for the second reflection of the supremacy of Christ in the next post.