Is It Really "All About Jesus"? (Pt. 2)

The phrase, "It's all about Jesus" is used a lot these days. Another common phrase is, "gospel-centered". What do these phrases really mean? They are used by many different preachers whose preaching ministries can sometimes be significantly different in consistent message and emphasis. At the heart of the meaning is often the confession that the Bible is all about Jesus. Preachers might say things like, "The Bible is all about Jesus, not just a bunch of rules" or, "The Bible and all of life is gospel-centered."

So, what does "It's all about Jesus" mean? For starters, it means the whole Bible revolves around Jesus. In order to not oversimplify that, we should say this does not mean when studying the Bible you should ignore the original meaning of a particular text that was written in a particular time for a particular people. It does mean, however, that at all times one should keep the broader biblical story in mind. Every single verse and passage and book lays in the grand story that is "all about Jesus". Every word of our Bibles is "all about Jesus".

With that being said, what does "It's all about Jesus" mean? For one person, "It's all about Jesus" means life is all about being like Jesus. For another person, "It's all about Jesus" means life is all about believing in Jesus. Yet for another person, "It's all about Jesus" means life is all about being on mission to make Jesus known to non-Christians.

If you agree that the Bible is "all about Jesus", there are two basic meanings someone could have when using that phrase. For preaching purposes, it means when preaching from the Bible there are two basic ways sermons will be shaped by how one understands that phrase.

On the one hand, "It's all about Jesus" can mean the Bible is all about us living for, obeying, worshiping, praying to, telling others about, and loving Jesus. Rather than merely talking about being a good person and doing the right thing, this approach says we ought to be good people and do the right thing for Jesus' sake, glory, and honor; maybe it even emphasizes we become better people and do good things by Jesus' present power in us. So where is the emphasis here? 

To sum it up, this first approach says the Bible is all about...us...living for Jesus. Sermons shaped by this understanding will have as their constant focus, continuous emphasis, and major theme the lives of listeners. Listeners will continually here about all they should be and do in order to make much of Jesus. "It's all about Jesus" means "It's all about you living for Jesus".

On the other hand, "It's all about Jesus" can mean something totally different, something we will argue is more true to what the Bible is actually about. This second understanding says the Bible is all about Jesus' life, His living, His dying, His rising, and His ascending. This approach says the Bible points to, emphasizes, creatively repeats, and continuously fills out a story that is not about you, but Someone else. This understanding says the Bible is about something that is already done, not something you need to do; it is about Someone else and things done by that Someone else. 

After His resurrection Jesus spoke with two disciples who did not understand what the Bible (the Old Testament) was about. "And he said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:25-27). Jesus goes through all the Scriptures, showing how they point to His life, death, and resurrection. Where is this emphasis?

When Paul described his ministry to the Corinthians he climactically said, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). The emphasis is obvious here.

When talking about his daily life, Paul said, "...And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). The emphasis here is not on Paul doing anything but rather continually resting in what has been done for him (and for you). The focus is Jesus, not Paul.

To sum it up, this second approach says the Bible is all about...Jesus...living, dying, and rising for us, to God's glory alone. Sermons shaped by this understanding will have as their constant focus, continuous emphasis, and major theme the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Listeners will continually hear about all that has been done for them by Jesus. "It's all about Jesus" means "It's all about Jesus for you, as a gracious gift".

The Bible really is all about Jesus. It is as simple as it sounds. Who we are and what we do is never enough. The Bible calls us sinners and that is bad news. Your listeners need to hear the bad news, that they are sinners. Christians need to be guided by God's Law and to be reminded that they are not enough; they haven't met God's standard. But they need a better, more powerful, final Word. They need the Gospel. The Gospel is what the Bible keeps coming back to, again and again. That means your sermons should too.