And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place ... And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:16-17, 21)
Read Luke 4:16-30
Do you respect the Bible? That's kind of an insulting question, isn't it? Not too many people would say no, especially people in the church.
Jesus certainly respected the Bible. In this passage, we read that He was invited to preach in the synagogue in His home town. So He took the scroll of Isaiah and unrolled it nearly all the way to the end, found His passage, and read it aloud to the group. Then He started preaching on it.
Think for a moment. Here is God Himself, God in the flesh, planning to preach -- and He starts by reading the Bible to the people. He doesn't say, "Well, I'm here Myself today, so I'll just speak directly and bypass the Scriptures -- they're not necessary." No, He sets the example Himself by using the text and sticking to it. It is as if God said, "I myself value the Bible, and I won't even speak to you without using it. If I value it so much, you should do so, too."
When we stick to our favorite passages, it's easy to value the Bible. The people of Nazareth had no problem listening to Jesus read about helping the oppressed and setting captives free. It reminded them how much God cared about them.
But there was a problem when Jesus turned to other bits of the Bible. He mentioned the prophet Elijah, who helped a poor foreign widow, and the prophet Elisha, who healed a man from Syria. Suddenly the Bible lesson wasn't going so well anymore. What, the God of Israel, helping foreigners instead of His own people? Are we supposed to respect that?
They didn't. Instead, they tried to throw Jesus over a cliff.
Ultimately, they wouldn't respect the Bible. But Jesus did. And as He went on His way, He fulfilled every single promise in the Old Testament about the Savior who would rescue us all from sin and death. And now that He has risen from the dead, He continues to fulfill His promises. He saves everyone who trusts in Him and gives us eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Lord Holy Spirit, help me to treasure the Bible and to grow through it. Amen.
How can you tell if someone respects the Bible? (Remember that customs vary by culture.)
What are your favorite parts of the Bible, and why?
What are your least favorite parts of the Bible, and why? How do you cope with those parts?
Author Dr. Kari Vo serves as theological writer for Lutheran Hour Ministries. She holds a doctorate in English (Renaissance period) from St. Louis University and has worked in writing and publishing for 30 years. She has published several books and written dozens of articles. Originally from California, she and her family are missionaries to the Vietnamese immigrants in the St. Louis area.
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