January 4 I Monday
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.” —John 5:39-40
What is the first thing most people do after purchasing a new car? Some will immediately take it for a joy ride, while others will play with the seats and settings. Eventually, they will get around to casually browsing through the manual, by taking the time to read it diligently, and paying careful attention to maintenance issues to prevent problems down the road.
However, diligent study of the manual for its own sake completely misses the point. We could read some of it every night, underline the bits we like and put it to music and sing about it. We could even memorize particularly important parts so we do not forget them, but eventually, the day will come when we say, “I am utterly bored with this manual.” Why? Because the purpose of the manual is not to know the manual, but to know the car.
Christians will tell people to read the Bible, but how often is it explained why we should read it? Some think we read the Bible because it teaches us moral ethics and values to live by. The historically inclined might say that it is good to know the history of God’s chosen people and all the events that lead to Christ. Others will believe it to be food for their souls and find inspiration, encouragement and comfort when things go wrong. This is all wonderfully true, but the danger is in allowing our reading and studying of Scripture to become more important than who Scripture is about. Just as we read the manual to get to know our car, the primary reason we are to read the Bible is to come to know Jesus Christ and the Father who sent Him.
This is exactly what Jesus criticized the Pharisees for in the opening verses. The reason some people find the Bible dull and dry is because they think it is simply a manual on how we should live. The whole purpose of the written Word is so we can know the Living Word, and allow Him to become our life. All of the Old Testament Scripture points to Christ and the New Testament reveals Him as the climax of God’s plan for the redemption of all creation, particularly us. We are to read and study Scripture, not merely to acquire knowledge, but God speaks to us through His Word so that we may personally come to know Him and His Son. By the work of the Spirit, words will leap off the pages into our hearts and transform our lives. The more we come to know the Bible, the more we know Christ to be alive and active. It is not the Bible that saves us but Jesus who saves us!
Prayer: Father God, I want to personally come to know You and Your Son. I ask for a work of Your Holy Spirit to make the Bible come alive and real for me. Thank You, Lord.