One of the joys I’ve had in my sermon preparation while preaching through Mark’s gospel has been reading J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels volume on Mark. I don’t always pick up every commentary I have on Mark every single week, but I almost always read what Bishop Ryle had to say about my text that week. Today I was reading and came across some words worth sharing and ones that brought to mind something a contemporary pastor had to say.
Ryle wrote concerning the Passover and studying the Mosaic Law:
“Let it be a rule with us, in the reading of our Bible’s to study the types and ordinances of the Mosaic law with prayerful attention. They are all full of Christ. The alter,–the scapegoat,–the daily burnt offering,–the day of atonement, are all so many finger-posts pointing to the greatest sacrifice offered by our Lord on Calvary. Those who neglect to study the Jewish ordinances, as dark, dull, and uninteresting parts of the Bible, only show their own ignorance, and miss great advantages. Those who examine them with Christ as the key to their meaning will find them full of Gospel light and comfortable truth.”
As I read I remember what Perry Noble had said a little over a month ago on his blog:
“One of the major problems with the church is that it has been obsessed with answering questions that no one is asking.
People are not showing up week in and week out wanting to know what happened to the goat in Leviticus, what the significance of the Ark of the Covenant is or with the desire to really break down the peccability/impeccability issue in regards to Jesus.
People want real, practical help with their lives. They want to know if the Bible can be trusted, if God is real…and if so then could He help out with a busted up marriage, a child that is out of control or the fact that a job loss has created unbelievable financial stress in the home.”
Bishop Ryle and Noble stand in stark contrast of one another. Most folks probably aren’t coming in asking about the scapegoat and all the things in Leviticus. But, Ryle is right when he says it is ignorant to ignore that book of the Law. It is full of Christ. If Jesus could have or could not have sinned really does matter. Doctrine and theology matter and are given to the church for worship and living. I can think of nothing more real and more practical than seeing the holiness of God, his demands for holiness, my short comings and your short comings in his demand for holiness, and a great need to gain his holiness. It seems as though I’ve read somewhere about God fulfilling his own righteous demands through a Passover Lamb and a scapegoat sent into the wilderness so I wouldn’t have to bear the weight of my own sin. Jesus is found in those things that people evidently aren’t asking about. It doesn’t get anymore practical than Jesus and his gospel. Maybe Jesus shouldn’t have taken the disciples through the Old Testament on the road to Emmaus and showed them how all the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets were about him. Maybe he should have given them something more practical. Perhaps Paul shouldn’t have written that all of the Scriptures were profitable for teaching, correction, reproof and training in righteousness, certainly they can’t be enough that followers of Jesus be equipped for everything? Could they? No, I believe they are. Grab a pair of Jesus lenses and you’ll see the glory of his gospel in every page of sacred script; there you’ll find the supremacy of a Christ who is sufficient for all things.