Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 5, 2019
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:20-21
The first Bible I consciously remember receiving as a child was a small, pocket-sized Gideon King James New Testament. It’s bonded white leather cover and gift box made it feel like a prized possession, and at age 5, it likely was the nicest book I had to my name. I kept it in the box at all times, taking it out only occasionally to look at it with great wonder and awe. And while this reverence and devotion to scripture is commendable at one level, it also planted a seed that took years to uproot. Namely, the belief that the New Testament was essential to the Christian life, and the Old Testament an optional backstory that one could take or leave as they saw fit.
Simply put, the New Testament is unintelligible apart from the Old. If we do not know the promises of God and the hopes and longings of his people, how then do we rightly understand Jesus as the way in which God chose to keep his promises and renew the world? St. Luke was crystal clear on this point, and in many ways set out to write his gospel with this in mind. As he says in his opening introduction, his aim was to write “an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us” (Lk. 1:1).
In his book Scripture and the Authority of God, N.T. Wright uses the image of boats crossing the ocean to help us understand how the Old and New Testaments fit together. We as followers of Jesus are people who have crossed the sea and are walking on dry land, and as a result the ship is no longer needed in the same way that it was before, and yet, the ship always remains a central part of our story and identity. As he says,
“When travelers sail across a vast ocean and finally arrive on the distant shore, they leave the ship behind and continue over land, not because the ship was no good, or because their voyage had been misguided, but precisely because both ship and voyage had accomplished their purpose. During the new, dry-land stage of their journey, the travelers remain – and in this illustration must never forget that they remain – the people who made that voyage in that ship.”
I believe this is a key insight that keeps us from dismissing the Old Testament on the one hand, and from missing the fulfillment in Jesus on the other. God’s story reaches its climax in Christ. As St. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.”
Jesus reminds us that God is faithful to keep his promises and not one of them is forgotten. This was great news to Ancient Israel as they hoped and longed for God’s coming redemption, and it is great news for us today. If you feel forgotten or unseen by God, the witness of Scripture from beginning to end reminds us afresh that God tells good, long stories.
Father, thank you that you are faithful to keep your promises and show us your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
How does Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises help you navigate tricky and confusing parts of the Old Testament?
God is faithful to keep his promises and not one of them does he forget. #WisdomHunters #scripture #Jesus
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