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Have you ever read a verse or more in the Bible and thought, "Wow! I never read that before", but on closer inspection you realise you must have, because you had already underlined it? Well I did that this morning!
I have been reading around John 5 for a while. There is so much in these verses, so much that relates to other things, and I have had days of distracted reading. My revelation was with verse thirty-nine.
John 5:39 (NLT)
“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!"
Jesus was talking to the Jewish leaders after He had healed the man at Bethesda who had been an invalid for 38 years. The Jewish leaders were being meticulously pedantic over the application of an interpretation of working on the Sabbath. This man should not be carrying his mat on the Sabbath!
Jesus scolded them with a lesson on how we should read the Scriptures. Jesus said they read the Scriptures in order to gain eternal life. But in reading, they had totally missed the references to the coming Messiah, Jesus.
In fact it gets worse. Jesus said they read the Scriptures wrong because they didn't have a love for God in their hearts. That's brutal exposure!
So how do we read the Bible? Isn't it by reading that we gain eternal life?
In Acts the Bereans read the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). Paul and Silas went to Berea and were preaching about Jesus being the promised Messiah. The Bereans didn't take the preachers word as "gospel"! They checked themselves, to see that everything was true. A worthwhile activity for us all. Never believe what a preacher says without checking for yourself.
So how do you read the Scriptures? If by reading the Bible we can gain eternal life, what need is there of Jesus, or our search for the presence of God?
Reading the Scriptures is pointless unless we have the love of God in our hearts. It is by grazing on the Scriptures with a desire for God that we gain benefit. Otherwise, we read and simply gain knowledge. Read the Bible because you are in love with God.
-Pr Nathan Stickland