Yesterday’s post addressed a failure to preach Christ from any and every text of Scripture. Doing so is a failure to take seriously Jesus’ words when He told His disciples: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44) The difficulties they had after His crucifixion stemmed from their failure to grasp that the Old Testament is all about Him.
However, there is a related mistake that preachers can make, the opposite breakdown, and it is equally problematic. We must not preach Christ without preaching the text. At times this is known as allegorical preaching, in which details of the text are applied to Christ that are not grounded in the author’s original intent. While Jesus did die on a cross made of wood, not every occasion of “wood” in the Scripture points to it. Sometimes a piece of wood is just a piece of wood. Important in understanding the text, but not necessarily Messianic or Gospel-centered.
Preaching Christ but failing to do justice to each individual text each week will create this problem: all of those sermons will begin to sound the same. Tim Keller is correct: “If you do go deeply enough into the original historical context, there will be as many different ways to preach Christ as there are themes and genres and messages in the Bible.” (Preaching, 66).
So biblical preachers find a balance between letting each text have its own voice be heard as well as lifting up Christ in all of Scripture.