UNDERSTANDING THE SCRIPTURES

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20)

 

The entire Scriptures point towards the coming of Jesus, the Messiah; every one of the sixty-six Books of the Bible is centred on Jesus and reveals His majesty and glory to the reader. Yet, in spite of all the references to His personality and the characteristics as portrayed of Him in the Good Book, the Pharisees who were soaked in Scripture, -- and who were the supposed custodians that should uphold its truth by teaching the Word of God to God’s chosen people ---missed altogether identifying Jesus as the Messiah.

It would require the One of whom the whole Bible spoke to open their eyes to this fact. How blind and deaf we become sometimes when we have decided to shut ourselves from the realities of life, just because we are stuck in our ways. Our Lord Jesus told them to the face; “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me and have life.” (John 5:39-40) Blinded by their religious practices -- which in the eyes of the people gave them prominence -- they failed to see that the Old Testament was pointing to Jesus.

What self-esteem projects are we engaged in to promote ourselves and not the Word of God? The Pharisees were adept at it. They knew the truth but did not want to acknowledge it in their daily lives. They were constantly questioning, criticising and objecting to Jesus’ interpretation of the Word of God based on the fact that they knew His parents and therefore His origins. “They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the Son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He now say I come from heaven?” (John 6:42)

         Their overall view of Scripture was flawed because as practitioners of the law they had put themselves above the law and by so doing have misused the law for their own ends. Their bird’s eye view of the Laws of Moses conflicted with Jesus’ mode of teaching or explanation of them. Whereas they sought to apply the Law to the letter, Jesus approached it from the perspective of the Father’s love for His children. The need for lifting the scales from off their eyes was imminent. However, they saw in Jesus an upstart. In fact they were losing their influence and felt uncomfortable and threatened. They were guilty of leaning onto their own understanding rather than take the infallible Word of God as gospel truth. For this reason, they were bent on a smear campaign to discredit and belittle Jesus, in spite of the evidence that God was with Jesus by the miracles that He performed before their very eyes. As Jesus’ popularity soared and large crowds followed and believed in Him, they became envious.

Once, they accused Jesus of using the power of Beelzebub to drive out demons. (Luke 11:14-15) On another occasion they challenged his authority to forgive sins, claiming that He had blasphemed. After healing a paralytic by merely telling him, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:20) The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 7:21) 

         Because the Pharisees felt strongly that Jesus had usurped their authority they began to challenge Him; claiming He was an unknown, even an upstart. They did all in their power to get rid of Him. He became a thorn in their flesh and an obstacle in their path. They constantly found fault with what Jesus did or uttered. It was on these grounds that they sought a pretext to have Him crucified. On the contrary, the masses appreciated Jesus “... the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as One who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:28-29)

The Pharisees were fighting tooth and nail for influence among the people which apparently they had lost when the Master came on board treating the people of God differently, teaching them and interpreting the spirit of the Law and not applying them to the letter. These were a people who had come to arrogate the power of the people and had left them in darkness. They did not understand that Jesus had “come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) His earthly mission was to release those who were held captive by slavery to sin; those who were oppressed by the evil one so that their eyes may be opened to God’s goodness and love for His creation.

The Scriptures were not given to find fault but to brace humanity up for the coming of a Saviour, the Christ, the Sent One who is the Messiah – the One for whom John the Baptist came to prepare a way. In the Scriptures is life. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

 At His resurrection, Jesus intercepted two of His disciples who were despondent over the death of their leader. As He walked with them, reviewing the series of incidents that had happened, we read: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself (Jesus).” (Luke 24: 27)

Understanding Scripture is getting to know the purpose for which Jesus came. He came to redeem you and me. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8b) 

Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye