John 5:37-47: Bibliolatry?
37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.41 ‘I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?45 ‘But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?’NIV
It is possible to be a serious Bible student and miss the whole point. If we don’t see Jesus in its pages, and fail to enjoy a relationship with Him, we miss everything that matters.
”You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” The Message.
The Jews in general, and the religious leaders in particular, ‘diligently’ studied the Scriptures (39) They counted how many letters there were in each book and so on. They knew a lot about IT. But when their Messiah came, they failed to recognise HIM. They were, it’s been said, like people who value the medicine bottle but do not take the medicine. Or, they are to be compared with someone who admires the jewellery box, but not the treasure it contains. They prided themselves on knowing the works of ‘Moses’ (45-47), but missed the One who was at the heart of Moses’ writings; the very One he pointed a long finger towards spanning across the centuries.
Some people’s knowledge of the Bible makes them hard and harsh and judgmental, and you can’t help but wonder if they are missing the whole point. You think, ‘Where is the heart and spirit of Jesus in such ferocious behaviour? ‘
As a preacher who tries to make a habit of expounding the Scriptures, I need to take to heart this reminder that it is all about Jesus. Wherever I am in the Bible I need to be pointing people to Jesus. Bible Study should lead to a relationship with Jesus, and to an ever-deepening relationship at that. It must never become an arid, academic pursuit that is an end in itself. David Pawson said once that we evangelicals accuse Roman Catholics of having a Trinity of Father, Son and Blessed Virgin. But we ourselves have often been guilty of believing in a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Scriptures. Beware!
Prayer: Thank you Lord for your Word. It is a remarkable Book. Enable me please, whenever I open it, to meet you there and receive your life. If I am ‘refusing’ you in any area today, please show me and bring me back to a place of full surrender.