You might be tempted to think that this blog post isn’t really needed. After all, aren’t all Bible studies Christ-centered? Not all of them. That’s why it’s important to know how to be savvy as a group leader and find ways to connect your Bible study to Jesus. Some curriculum, like The Gospel Project, are designed from the very start to be Christ-centric. Other studies present Christ whenever the passage being studied is Christ-centric. But what do you do when you’re in a passage that doesn’t reference the Savior? With a little practice, you can make a bee-line for the Jesus any time you wish.
It’s really not that hard to do. Just ask yourself a few simple questions as you prepare your Bible study, and you’ll find yourself putting Jesus in the center of each lesson.
Question #1: Is the passage I’m leading my group to study quoted by Jesus? If the answer is “yes,” then it’s easy to tie the verses to the occasion on which Jesus talked about it. Check your Bible’s footnotes, or consult a good commentary. “Good morning class. Today we’re studying XYZ passage. Did you know that Jesus quoted it when He ________________ and used it to teach _____________?”
Question #2: Is the passage I’m leading my group to study prophetic? If the answer is “yes,” then you’ve got another easy tie to Jesus and His ministry. Many times the prophets spoke about the arrival of the Messiah, the Messiah’s role, and his blessing to Israel and the nations. Prophetic passages often deal with the topic of judgment. Tying these passages to Jesus’ life and ministry is not a hard thing to do. His return to planet earth at His second coming will find Him in the role of Judge. History will begin to conclude. God’s Word and predictions from the Old Testament will be vindicated and proven accurate.
Question #3: How can I build a bridge from the passage my group is studying to Jesus and His ministry? If there doesn’t appear to be any direct ties from the Bible passage to Jesus and His ministry, what kinds of bridges can you build that relate to a word or theme in the passage? For instance, If your group is camped out in Proverbs 16:24 which says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” you might not see any overt way to connect this to Jesus. But upon thinking about it, even though my group is in an Old Testament passage, I could easily build a bridge to Jesus by saying the following to my group:
- This proverb emphasizes the importance of kind and gracious words. John 1:4 says that Jesus, the Word of God, became flesh and dwelt among us. In that verse it says Jesus came to us “full of grace and truth.” In what ways were Jesus’ words full of grace? What truth have you learned about Jesus recently that you would describe as “sweet”?
I could simply teach my group Proverbs 16:24, but if I wanted to, it would be a short step to find a way to talk about Jesus with my group.
Question #4: Do any Biblical writers apply the passage my group is studying to Jesus? Even though I don’t see a tie from the verse my group is studying to the Lord, perhaps other biblical writers applied it to Him. A quick check of footnotes and commentaries will reveal whether or not a writer like Paul, Mark, or Peter used the passage in question to talk to their first-century audiences about Jesus.
With a little practice you will be able to guide your group to find ways to talk about Jesus no matter what Bible passage you’re studying. You won’t have to force anything. Most of the time, the ties to Jesus’ life and ministry will come very naturally.