The hidden mystery has now been made manifest by Jesus and made known through the Old Testament. Something therefore has changed. The hidden is now manifest. The mystery is now revealed. Christ lies at the centre of this mystery since he manifests the mystery and makes known the hidden mystery in the Old Testament.
Many have attempted to discover the centre of Scripture by reading it according to its own terms, idioms, and storyline. In this attempt, however, theologians have differed on what that centre is. Proposals include justification, God’s glory in salvation through judgment, and God himself. That so many disagree on the centre suggests that such an approach has yet to discover the centre.
Despite the seeming impossibility of discovering the centre, it is possible to name it. In my view, the discipline of biblical theology can grasp the centre only through first considering key apostolic comments on the relationship between Christ and Scripture. Only then does the centre become manifest.
Let me explain.
In the first century, Scripture meant the Old Testament. Everyone preached Christ from the Old Testament. It was the only option available. And it was not an obligatory second choice (as Christians waited for the New Testament). The scriptures truly and in fact did speak of Christ through-and-through.
Yet virtually no one recognized this until after the Resurrection. Even Peter was confused about what the empty tomb meant. Only John is said to have “believed” when he saw the empty tomb. And it took Christ appearing to persuade the rest of the disciples. Even then, it was a shock.
After spending many years at Jesus’ feet, why couldn’t the apostles understand what the Scripture plainly said: that Christ would suffer and rise from the dead? Why were they so blind to the obvious?
Even today, many academics and non-Christian faiths (judaism, lslam, etc.) read Scripture (the OT) without seeing the Christological centrality of it. Why is this?
The apostolic writings actually attempt to explain why such a blindness could cover the eyes of the religious leaders of Israel as well as the disciples of Christ. Paul, for example, concludes Romans with one of the most undervalued passages in Scripture:
Now, to the one is able to make you stand according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the mystery that was hidden in the ages through time but now has been made manifest and made known through the prophetic scriptures according to the command of the eternal God for the obedience of faith to all the nations (Rom 16:25–26).
Here, Paul correlates his Gospel and kerygma to a hidden mystery. Yet the mystery that was hidden in the past ages has now been revealed according to the apostle. How exactly? The manifestation in the present has to be linked to Christ’s incarnation. And its being “made known” happens “through the prophetic scriptures,” that is, the Old Testament.
Put very simply, the hidden mystery has now been made manifest by Jesus and made known through the Old Testament. Something therefore has changed. The hidden is now manifest. The mystery is now revealed. Christ lies at the centre of this mystery since he manifests the mystery and makes known the hidden mystery in the Old Testament.
One can see how this works in Luke 24 when Jesus meets Cleopas and another disciple. He teaches them how to read the Scripture (the law, prophets, and psalms) to see himself in them. Likewise, Paul speaks of those who read the Scripture with a veil over their eyes, unable to see the glory of Christ in the text of Scripture.