One of the best ways to interpret Scripture is by using Scripture, or in other words, using cross-references. In the Bible there are around 340,000 cross-references (OpenBible.info) that can help you explore the unity and common themes between the Old and New Testaments. On top of biblical cross-referencing, WORDsearch can help you explore your entire library to find mentions of the verse you are looking for to help you build out a sermon or lesson.
As we saw with the last Quick Tip, one of the most time-saving features of WORDsearch is the Cross-Reference Explorer. The Cross-Reference Explorer is a powerful and easy tool to find critical notes, historical and cultural information, and insights from others on God’s Word.
Let’s take a deeper look into how to use Cross-Reference Explorer when creating a sermon or lesson.
Let’s say we are creating a sermon on the baptism of Jesus, what it meant, and where it is alluded to in the Old Testament.
If you open a Bible open to Matthew 3:13-17, verse 16 states, “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” we can easily see the biblical cross-references by clicking on the little number 4 in brackets. This means there are four other Scripture references related to the verse. From this, we see that John 12:28 and Luke 9:35 also mention Jesus’ baptism, showing us that it must be significant.
We also get two Old Testament references with Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1.
Now that we have our cross-reference verses, we can see what the other books in our library have to say about them. Let’s say we want to know more about the cross-reference of Isaiah 42:1 first.
Open the Cross-Reference Explorer and type in Isaiah 42:1.
Here we see many references to the verse, but we’re interested in the ones that specifically relate to Matthew 3:17. After reading a few entries, we can go back and type in Matthew 3:17 in the search bar to go back to our original verse.
Here are just a few things we can learn:
- In the Bible Background Commentary, we learn how Matthew writes his gospel this way so that his readers would see allusions “not only to Psalm 2:7,” which we saw earlier as a cross-reference, but “also to the suffering servant of Isaiah 42:1-4.”
- Isaiah 42:1, we’re informed, is a fulfilled Messianic prophecy of the Messiah being filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Matthew Henry Concise explains that Jesus’ baptism shows the full Trinity at work — Jesus the man, the Holy Spirit descending, and God the Father speaking.
- In Wells of Living Water from a sermon titled the “Preaching and Baptism of John”, we discover an application of how to apply this message to the audience personally. How important is baptism to us?
- Instead of searching through all the topics in my Sermon Help Illustration books, using the Cross-Reference Explorer, we can find two illustrations mentioning Matthew 3:17 in 6,000 Plus Illustrations for Communicating Biblical Truths, one bringing to light the importance of Fathers telling their children, “You’re mine,” to help them feel secure.
With all of this information, I can structure my sermon around how the Old Testament points to Christ, the importance of His baptism, and the importance of baptism for us. By understanding the Old Testament allusions to this event, we gain a much richer knowledge of the New Testament. Using the Cross-Reference Explorer, you can craft a much fuller and deeper sermon.
What is your favorite part of using Cross-Reference Explorer? Share with us in the comments below!