Monday, August 8, 2011

A Problem with Reading the Bible

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One of the biggest problems we face in reading scripture is missing Jesus.

If we read the Bible and do not see Jesus within the pages, we have missed the message completely. Jesus speaks to this in John 5:39-40 when he was addressing the Jews and their understanding of the Old Testament scriptures, or Torah. Jesus said to them, You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life (John 5:39–40).”

The Jews had familiarized themselves with the scriptures and were even looking for salvation by reading them, but they missed Jesus within the pages. Jesus pointed out that the Jews thought they would have salvation in the pages of scripture. They gave themselves to the scripture, but not to the message. They committed a sort of “Bible-Idolatry” by worshiping the text instead of God revealed in the text. When it is clear, the scriptures are pointing to Jesus. The Bible is literally calling His name and calling us to Him. If in reading the Bible we do not come to Jesus for the life He offers us, we have read the Bible in vain and we have read it wrongly.

In the gospel of Luke, chapter 24, Jesus reveals Himself after His resurrection to two men walking on the road to Emmaus. The men were talking about all that had happened in Jerusalem concerning Jesus and were confused and sad. As the men were talking, Jesus approached and inquired about what they were talking about, but the men did not know it was Jesus. They told Jesus all about the crucifixion and they were distraught. They said that they had “hoped” Jesus would redeem Israel. They missed Jesus.

Jesus responded to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27).” The men did not understand what the scriptures had said of the crucifixion and resurrection and they did not understand that they were talking and walking with the Risen Lord Jesus. They had missed Jesus in scripture and were missing Him in the flesh, until He opened their eyes.

Jesus’ explanation of the scriptures to the men on the road to Emmaus is important. He was instructing them, and is instructing us, that all the scriptures concern Himself. One of the greatest resources that have come out in a while is The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. The subtitle of this book basically echoes what Jesus told the men on the road to Emmaus: “Every Story Whispers His Name.” This is the Bible in its essence. The Bible is about Jesus. Every account in scripture points to Him. If we miss this, like the Jews in Jesus’ day from John 5, then we will completely miss God’s message to us.

May we hear every story in scripture whisper the name of Jesus and would we find our life in Him.

Here are some basic facts that allow us to read and think about the Bible rightly:

  1. If we miss Jesus in the pages of the Bible, we have missed the message
  2. All of scripture leads us to Jesus
  3. We must not value scripture above Jesus
  4. The Old Testament, the Torah and the Prophets, point to Jesus
  5. Old Testament prophesies and the writings of Moses are fulfilled in Christ
  6. The New Testament reveals the Old Testament telling the singular narrative of salvation in Christ
  7. It is better to look at the Bible, not as the “Old” and “New” Testaments, but as a “Whole Testament”

The New King James Version. 1982 (Jn 5:39–47). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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