Could it be that we’re making the mistake that Jesus addressed in Matthew 5:39-40? “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
Tragically today, we know a lot about Jesus. But we do not know, Jesus.
We feel compelled to study the Bible because we know we should. It is God’s word, after all. But we often leave our time in the Word like we leave the encyclopedia, newspaper, or magazine. Encouraged, perhaps entertained, but not changed.
Knowing and Loving
To know Jesus is to love Jesus. If we love him, we will keep his commandments. God-glorifying, joy-inducing obedience (including the obedience of confession and repentance) comes not out of mere textbook knowledge of what we’re supposed to do; it comes out of love for the One Who gave His life for us through excruciating pain on a Roman cross.
Jesus is not just our savior, He is our brother (Heb. 2:11). He is our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). He is our only dependable source of joy (Ps. 16:11). He is our peace (Eph. 2:14). He is our love (Jn. 13:35). Our lives are so intertwined with his that scripture actually says that we are hidden in him (Col. 3:3). He is our new identity. THAT is an interesting and exhilarating plot line for our devotions each day, don’t you think?
Anyone with the Spirit of God in them and who sees the grandeur of Jesus proliferated from Genesis to Revelation cannot help but love him. Knowing leads to loving. Even in our human relationships we know that usually the better we know someone, the more we love them.
Pursue your time in the word as a time of getting to know Jesus. How do we do this?
First, we remind our families [often] that our purpose in coming together around the Bible is to know Jesus. Have you done this? God is speaking to us through the Bible because it is his word to us. It is like he is sitting there talking with us. The book is alive and through the Spirit, it gives life.
Second, we look for how the passage reveals the person and work of Christ. This is not always readily apparent, especially if we only read a few verses at a time, or if we stay away from the books of the Old Testament that provide vital backdrop and depth about who Jesus was and what he accomplished for us.
Just this week I was greatly encouraged by one of those ah-ah! moments for my wife as my family was reading in Isaiah of all places. What struck her was not new, but I think it was just that she saw it in a different way. As we were reading the message God gave Isaiah to pass on to the people, there was a theme of him reminding the people that He was in control, that He should be feared, not the Assyrians.
They needed to focus their attention on God and look to Him for help. It paralleled with 2 Cor. 4:18 (where she had been reading on her own) Paul reminds us to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Many people read passages and miss how Jesus is present. David and Goliath is a classic example. Many think the message is something like God makes us strong so we can fight Satan. Wrong. The message is that none of us can fight Satan and win. Only one person fought and defeated Satan, Jesus! We need to recognize our utterly powerless state against sin and by faith apply Jesus’ victory on the cross as our own in each specific temptation.
As a husband and father, it is very exciting to see my wife and children enjoy reading the Bible. Certainly, there are days where I blow it or that joy is not as prevalent at Bible time. We struggle like all families. But I think the sowing and reaping principle of 2 Cor. 9:6 applies and I have seen it work!
If your family is not having regular family worship, my encouragement is to begin, NOW! God’s Word is powerful because the one about whom it is written, Jesus, is all-powerful. And he sits at God’s right hand, praying for you, dear father, to lead your family not to the Bible per se, but to a relationship with Him!