“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.” (John 5:39-40)
The noble Bereans searched the Scriptures to see if the things Paul said of Jesus could be true. The ignoble Jews searched the Scriptures to find a way around Jesus, a righteous way of life apart from the righteous one. We must not make the same mistake.
Jesus is the center and focus of all the Scriptures. There is no important biblical idea that does not point to or flow from Jesus Christ. There is no godliness, no spiritual life, no eternal hope to be found in the Bible – all of these are found in Christ. The Bible exists to lead us to Jesus.
The Old Testament is the story of Israel, and it’s religious practices, or Judaism. But Judaism was a picture, a shadow of the real thing to come, which is Jesus. Jesus did not restore the prominence of the Kingdom of Israel, nor did he reassert the hegemony of Judaism. Both were rendered obsolete, completed, superseded, expanded by the presence of Jesus himself, and by the inclusion of the rest of the world.
The New Testament is an attempt to comprehend this. Who is Jesus and what has he done? His brilliant personal light flashed so briefly in history, and disappeared again so suddenly that his followers were left gasping “What happened?” He was still with them – in them – in the Holy Spirit, and they experienced the power of that life within, but they did not understand what it all meant, and where it would go from there.
Many of the Jews could not bear the transformation of Judaism that Jesus proclaimed, so they held on tight to the old way of Torah and rejected their newly revealed Messiah. For them, the Scripture was the rock, the immovable anchor, the ultimate authority of their faith.
In time, Christians also lost sight of the risen Christ and sought to establish a religion instead, something they could contain and control. For them, the Bible became the ultimate authority, the book of doctrine and practice for the new institution of the church.
In his great love, God made himself known by his son, a person that we can hear and follow and love. Jesus is our focal point, our rock, our anchor, our source and our destination. His person is the simplicity of the gospel, in sharp contrast to the complexity of both the Judaism of the teachers of the law, and the Christianity of the Bible scholars.
There were some first century Jews who could see that he was the promised one. They left the shadows of Judaism and followed him, though they did not know where he might lead.
Likewise, 21st century Christians must see that Jesus himself is the way, the truth and the life. We must stop trusting the Christian religion and the local church to be those for us, and follow him, without knowing where he might lead.
For both of us, the Scriptures are a resource, not the source. We must always pursue Jesus first, and search the Scripture only because we discover in it a precious treasure of foreshadowing and reflection on the person, the life, the teaching, the meaning of Jesus. It’s all about him.