Like many who come to need glasses in middle age, I was surprised with the newfound clarity they brought to my distance sight. I could read distant road signs and recognize friends before I bumped in to them! The diminished clarity wasn’t obvious to me; it just ‘was what it was’. Likewise, many people struggle to read the bible with clarity, especially the Old Testament. Moreover, like me and my vision, they accept their struggle as it ‘is what it is’, saying things like, “the Old Testament is long and difficult”, “doesn’t everybody find it hard”, or even “why do we need it now that we have the New Testament”. As we continue to go through the “Story of Everything” week by week, our prayer is that you are indeed seeing more clearly the unifying threads that run through the bible and how Christ is always glorified therein.

One suggestion I have to help with your bible vision clarity is to see scripture through Jesus lenses. How Christians read, interpret, and use the Old Testament (and even how the New Testament writers did the same) is a complex issue.[1] However, all of us can learn and be encouraged by starting with Jesus himself, and consider how he used the Old Testament. Firstly, what can we see about how he thought of the Old Testament? Jesus frequently quoted from the Scriptures in his earthly ministry, and from this four key observations can be made:

1) He believed the Scriptures were inspired.

Jesus clearly saw the bible as God’s words and commands (Matthew 15:3).

2) He believed the Scriptures were authoritative.

He said, “Scripture cannot be broken. (John 10:35)”, and it served as the basis for his teaching (see for example on church discipline (Mt 18:16), marriage (Mt 19 3-9), eternal life (Mt 19:16-19), Christian service (Mt 22:37-39))

3) He believed the Scriptures were necessary and sufficient for all of life.

He frequently challenged the religious leaders of the day saying, “Have you not read? (Mt 12:3; 21:16; 22:31). Jesus knew the Scriptures intimately, and quoted from them freely. In moments of suffering and trial, such as his temptations in the wilderness and his death on the cross, he drew upon the scriptures (Deuteronomy and Psalm 22).

4) He believed the Scriptures were reliable.

Jesus referred to events (the judgment of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom), and people (including Cain, Abel, Lot, Abraham, Moses, and Jonah) as historical.

Secondly, Jesus unapologetically sees himself as the lens through which all Scripture must be seen. He is Scripture’s central character, and the one through whom all Scripture finds its fulfillment:

These are the words that I spoke to you while I was with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44)” and “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Mt 5:17)”

Jesus held God’s Word in the highest regard. He not only believed the bible was God’s Word, he saw it as completely authoritative, completely edifying, and completely true. Moreover, God’s Word is completely about him.

Blessings to you all as we resume our Story of Everything reading plan next week. Look for the week’s readings this Sunday in our weekly email.

Pastor Gary

[1] One resource for further study comes from the Counterpoints Series and is called, Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (with contributors: Kaiser, Block, and Enns)

Prepare your heart for Sunday by reading the passage and listening to the songs we’ll sing.