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“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)
So, how is your New Year’s resolution going?
It is probably a safe bet that many of you made a resolution that had something to do with the Bible – read through the Bible in a year, memorize Scripture, or perhaps simply spend more regular quiet times with God and His Word. As you spend more time in the Bible in 2013, let me encourage/ challenge you with something, beginning with Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in John 5:39-40: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Nobody knew the Bible better than the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. And yet Jesus tells them that despite their diligent study, they had missed the whole point of God’s Word. As Jesus put it, “these are the Scriptures that testify about me.” Even though Jesus’ name is never mentioned in the Old Testament, Jesus proclaims that all of it testifies about Him.
I love how Michael Reeves put it in his book Delighting in the Trinity:
“We can open our Bibles for all sorts of odd reasons – as a religious duty, an attempt to earn God’s favor, or thinking that it serves as a moral self-help guide, a manual of handy tips for effective religious lives. That idea is actually one main reason so many feel discouraged in their Bible-reading. Hoping to find quick lessons for how they should spend today, people find instead a genealogy, or a list of various sacrifices. And how could page after page of histories, descriptions of the temple, instructions to priests, affect how I rest, work, and pray today?
But when you see that Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures, that He is the Word, the Lord, the Son who reveals His Father, the promised Hope, the true Temple, the true Sacrifice, the great High Priest, the ultimate King, then you can read, not so much asking ‘What does this mean for me, right now?’ but ‘What do I learn here of Christ?’ Knowing that the Bible is about Him and not me means that, instead of reading the Bible obsessing about me, I can gaze on Him. And as through the pages you get caught up in the wonder of His story, you find your heart strangely pounding for Him in a way you never would have if you had treated the Bible as a book about you.”
Wow. I agree with Reeves, that many of us go to the Bible asking “what does this mean for me?” or looking for something that will inspire us or give us wisdom for today. And when we fail to find something inspiring or memorable, we are disappointed and feel like we did not really meet with God. But as Jesus said, the whole Bible testifies about Him and about the salvation that God is bringing into the world through the giving of the Son of God, Jesus, as an atonement for our sins. And so, instead of reading the Bible narcissistically, so to speak, as if it were a book about us, let me encourage you to come to God’s Word looking for Jesus, so that you might know and love Him supremely, because THAT is what your heart needs the most today and every day of 2013.
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