The Things Concerning Himself

I remember back in college my roommate, Michelle, brought home the movie The Usual Suspects. We spent the afternoon enthralled in this 1995 film. The movie begins with a ship massacre and explosion, where Roger “Verbal” Kint, played by Kevin Spacey, is one of only two survivors. The other survivor wasn’t doing well, hospitalized as a burn victim. Roger Kint was a small-time con artist with cerebral palsy. He was brought in for interrogation on the details of the crimes he and the four other criminals from his motley crew were committing, and how it led to this horrific massacre. The story is set through this flashback narration of Kint’s explanation of events. He weaves a complex web of crime that keeps the viewer (and the U.S. Customs special agent, Kujan) on the edge of their seat. In it, he describes an evil, mysterious mob boss, Keyser Söze, who is the big fish responsible for much more than the boat incident. This is a man evil enough to kill his own wife and children when his home was invaded by Hungarian rivals. He takes out that whole mob and goes underground, becoming “a spook story criminals tell their kids at night.”Since then he’s been able to work from the shadows, being seen by hardly anyone. Meanwhile, the burn victim confirmed to an FBI agent that Söze was who they were looking for. He was able to work with a sketch artist to give a face to this mysterious man. Kint’s story helped lead special agent Dave Kujan to Söze’s identity—a former corrupt police officer Kint had been running with who Kujan is now convinced faked his own death. The story wraps up with Kint being released back onto the streets. As the movie ends, you see Roger Kint walking out of the police station, and just like that, his funny limp straightens to a strong gait. Meanwhile, the detective is looking around the interrogation room noticing that all of the names of people and places Kint offered up were borrowed from items in that very room. And, of course, the sketch artist picture faxes in a little late, and who’s face is it? Yep—Roger Kint is Keyser Söze. What? What? He fetches a cab and disappears with a sinister smile. Michelle and I looked at each other, hit the rewind, and had to watch the whole movie over again. It changed everything. This is what I was thinking about as I am meditating on the book I have been reading, Him We Proclaim, by Dennis Johnson. Now I might be sounding even more convoluted than the movie, but I do have a point. Johnson very successfully shows how the apostles define in their writings a particular redemptive, historical, Christ-centered hermeneutic (as well as homiletic) method for reading the Old Testament that they had learned from their risen Lord. In light of the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, there are all kinds of new things to see in the old writings of Scripture. The many historical events, required sacrifices, prophets, priests, and kings were all types that point to the ultimate, arch-type, Jesus Christ. Johnson explains:
 The God who creates, reigns, redeems, and judges in history, and who speaks in Scripture, abounds in surprising ingenuity, but he is also a wise planner who works by pattern and gives human beings, created in his image and recreated in the image of the Son, glimpses into the pattern of his planning. Long before he sent his Son to bring rescue in “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4), he sovereignly designed events, institutions, and individual leaders to provide foretastes of the feast, whetting Israel’s appetite for the coming Savior and salvation. Israel’s historical experiences of blessing and judgment, weal and woe, also prepared a rich symbolic “vocabulary,” embedded in the dust and blood of real history: concepts and categories pre-designed to articulate the sufficiency and complexity of Jesus’ saving work (198-199).
Don’t get me wrong, Keyser Söze is not comparable to Jesus Christ. But my metaphor stands on the idea that Christ wasn’t who the Jews thought he would be. And once his true identity is revealed, they need to hit the rewind button and look at the whole story of history and redemption again with fresh eyes. Everything’s different. Can you imagine being a Jew who was intimately knowledgeable of God’s word and then by grace, able to live in that time to actually meet the Messiah? Only, he isn’t at all what you expected. He wasn’t coming to judge and set his kingdom on the earth. He came as a baby, to live a righteous life and die a humiliating death for your atonement. The heroes of your ancestors; Moses, Aaron, and David, were prefiguring the true Prophet, Priest, and King, who’s offerings are perfect and never need to be replaced or repeated. Could you imagine being the two walking along to Emmaus, and unknowingly have Christ walking alongside, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27)? And then, as you invite him to stay for a meal, he takes the bread and blesses it and breaks it…All of the sudden the stranger/guest becomes the host as he reveals his true identity, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world! And here we are, living in the last days. We no longer look for the promise; we have the fulfillment. And while we wait for the consummation, we can go over and over our God’s words again, as our hearts burn within us.