Monday, September 26, 2005

Study Skill 01: It's not about you

A short series of posts about how we read the Bible

What is the point of the temptation of Jesus?
Almost instinctively we say, to show us how to face temptation.
And how do we do that? We use the Bible...

The problem is that this comes from us reading the Bible out of context and under the assumption that it is a book about us. The Bible is not a book about us or written to us, on the whole. It is for us. But we are not its main character.

The temptation of Jesus - Matthew 4v1-11.
It is true that as Jesus faces temptation he uses the Word of God to counter satan's temptations. It is also true that Jesus sucessfully stands against these temptations.

But.

1.Context – Matthew 3v12-17. This is Jesus who v15: fulfils all righteousness, and v17, immediately before temptation is declared to be God's son.

2.Notice Jesus is God's son. You are not. So, odds on you can't do everything Jesus can do.

3.Jesus quotes repeatedly from Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy tells of Israel's failure to stand in the face of temptation. Jesus knows the same truth that they knew but he stands. Jesus is very different from Israel. He is God's son, like Israel, but unlike them he stands.

4.In fact the context should help us to see that actually Matthews point is to show us that Jesus is very unlike Israel, and us. This is God's unique son... the first person ever to face temptation and not fall to it, at all. He is God's righteous son.

5.So, in context the point is more likely to be – Jesus is God's perfect son, you are not. We are not Jesus. Matthews book is all about Jesus. 1V1 – in the genealogy we so often ignore makes that very clear – the title of the book – the origins of Jesus, David's son and Abraham's son. You are not the subject of this book. You are not Jesus.

6.We love to substitute ourselves into a story but the Bible is not written that way. You're not Jesus. You're not God's saviour – the sinless one, which is how Jesus is presented here. That is precisely the point. If you were Jesus you wouldn't need Jesus.

7.Please also notice that you're not Peter. You're not the woman at the well. You're not Lazarus. You are not the church in Ephesus or Rome. You're not any of these people. You, in fact, are... you. The Bible is not about you or written directly to you. It is for you, but it is for you so that you would get to know the good news about Jesus – which is what it is actually about.

2 comments:

  1. I love this example of context - the first time someone showed it to me I felt like sacles had fallen off my eyes.

    It's interesting as well how the application of the wrong version is so "religious" - use the word of God to resist temptation. Whereas the application is actually so full of grace - "Jesus is the one who can defeat sin."

    I wonder why the mis-application is so popular. ;)

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  2. hey Mo... thanks for dropping by.

    Who doesn't like the idea of being the messiah..... subtle and yet horribly deceptive...

    So often people love the Gospels for being "practical" and all about Jesus... and yet they miss all the GRACE! :)

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