It's all about Jesus. Or is it?
Certainly He is the fulfillment of all promises, the king above all kings, and the climax of God's redemptive plan. We follow Him utterly and would die for Him gratefully. If all of that is true, then why is it the phrase still bothers me so much?
It seems that when many churches or Christians say, "It's all about Jesus" what they really mean is, "it's only about Jesus." And that's just not true. Unfortunately it often happens that we elevate the life and work of Jesus without giving equal emphasis to the Father and a holistic understanding redemption history, without which we cannot hope to comprehend the life and work of the Son.
Certainly you cannot stress enough the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus. But if there is not equal stress on the centuries of promises by the Father, and the centuries of the expectation, yearning, and waiting of Israel, we run the risk of not seeing God’s full plan. The depth and breadth of God’s beautiful and historical salvation story risks being lost on us. We risk the short-sighted view that paints Jesus as a last minute, Seal Team 6-type rescue mission for a world that has gotten out of hand and God’s control.
And though this view may evoke gratitude towards the Savior, it misses the breath-taking awe and grandeur of the Father. It forsakes the millennia of His faithful planning, promising, and preparing that culminates in Jesus, who came to glorify the Father.
If the "all" in this phrase refers to all areas of a believers life then yes, everything in our life should be about following Jesus. However, if by "all" we mean everything in redemption history then it's not "all about Jesus." Biblically speaking, redemption history is all about the glory of the Father.
Indeed, throughout the New Testament, Jesus confirms that His life and ministry exist to bring glory to God the Father. Whenever someone performs a miracle or proclaims the gospel, a version of the words, “and they glorified God,” follows. The Gospel of Matthew even specifies that it is “the God of Israel” receiving glory:
…so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.
(Matthew 15:31 ESV)
This is the God of Israel—the God Who brings them out of Egypt, leads them in battle, gives them the Promised Land, guides them home again, and meets their faithlessness and desertion with faithfulness and promise of new restoration. All of history leads to this point where all of God’s promises find their fulfillment in the Messiah Jesus.
Jesus points us to this truth in His first words from the Gospel of Mark:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:15 ESV)
If in your mind the “gospel” only means the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, you have to wonder what gospel Jesus speaks of in this verse. Neither Jesus nor Mark offers any explanation, which should tell us that both Mark and the entire audience by the river that day knew exactly what Jesus meant by gospel.
So what gospel does Jesus preach? The majority of Christians are aware that the word “gospel” is a Greek transliteration for the term “good news.” Yet with the events of the cross in the future, what does Jesus mean by the “good news” of the kingdom of God?
Any Jewish man or woman who heard Jesus preach knew exactly what He was talking about. Their hope rested in the final earthly kingdom of God given through Old Testament promises; promises given amidst slavery, exile, rebellion, and military defeat; promises clung to by a people whose nation had been politically destroyed and oppressed. Yet Mark tells us Jesus’ first words are a declaration that this kingdom is very near. The good news, then, is that the prophesies of Isaiah, given at the opening of Mark’s Gospel, come to fulfillment in the person and ministry of Jesus. Jesus is the realization of Israel’s covenant hope, of all Old Testament promises, of the redemption of Israel and the establishment of God’s Kingdom finally and forever.
Jesus is the climax of God the Father’s redemption story, and regardless of how bombastic, how beautiful, and how amazing the climax scene of a film is, it is always more beautiful and meaningful to someone who understands how the story begins.
If we fail to see the whole story, we miss the meticulous movement of the Father who works for the redemption and restoration of His children for thousands of years. Failing to comprehend God’s full plan blinds us to the majesty of His infinite faithfulness and patience as He weaves the path of our return to the Tree of Life through ages of our adultery, idolatry, rebellion, and centuries of whining and wandering. The gloriousness of His control—like brilliant composer directing a symphony—can only be seen as we look to the Father, our Father, Who has been acting on behalf of His children since the foundations of the earth. Only then can I sit speechless under the divine weight that such a glorious plan would include me.
You will miss, too, how the entire redemptive history plays out in the life of each believer. Chosen for a covenant with Him, each of us has had the angel of eternal death pass over us because of the Lamb’s sacrificial blood; each of us has been led out of slavery; each wandered into his own desert; each stumbled in idolatry and sin. Most gloriously, we also each receive the Father’s fulfilled promise to make atonement for our sins, send His Spirit into us, to write the law on our hearts, cause us to be righteous brothers of Jesus, and finally make us worthy of our sonship. He becomes our God as we become His people.
Love Jesus, worship Jesus, and glorify Jesus. But let the beauty and glory of Jesus implore you to love the beauty and glory of the Father Who sent Him.
Finally, preach the forgiveness of your sins at the foot of the cross. Never stop preaching it, believing it, or being in awe of it. But widen your gospel vision lest you miss the height and the breadth and the weight of what you are caught up in.
When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent. I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.
(John 17:1-5 ESV)
Then comes the end, when He [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power… then the Son himself will also be subjected to Him [the Father] who put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all.
(1 Corinthians 15:24, 28 ESV)