The Pharisees and the Written Word

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
 

Hello everyone! Welcome to 2017! Since I’m off work today, I thought I would take a little time share a few thoughts about some Bible studying I have been doing. I’m actually studying in two places, Ezekiel and the Gospel of John. Today I’d like to share from my study in John.

With my Bible and the help of a commentary, I just finished up chapter 5 today and would like to specifically some things I learned specifically from John 5:37-47. In this part, Jesus is giving the Pharisees testimonies of His claims to being the “Son of God.” The He has already given two testimonies (John the Baptist and the miracles that Jesus worked), and the final one is the “Word of the Father.” The Jewish had a high reverence for God’s written word. There were scribes whose full time job was to meticulously transcribe the Word onto scrolls to better preserve them. They would work hard not to make many mistakes and would count the very letters of the text along with “jots and tittles.” But they missed the truths of what they were transcribing. Here are some of the problems they sere experiencing.

They would not allow the Word to generate faith in them (John 5:38). Verse 39 is telling. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” The Scribes and Pharisees were proud of their knowledge and accuracy of their study and work. But they missed the Lord of the Bible (John 5:38). As a younger Christian I was always taught that I had to read the Bible through in a year. There is nothing wrong with that and I did that year after year. But at the end of the year, I shamefully confess that I did not know God any better. I accomplished my goal but missed the purpose for my goal.

The leaders also had a problem with their minds. They were proud that they were the keepers of the Scriptures, but they did not see Christ in their own Scriptures. They studied so they could be revered by the people but had no interest in humbling themselves and learning about Jesus, the Savior of the world. The Bible is totally true when it says that “knowledge” puffs up (makes us proud).

The Pharisees third problem was a “heart” problem. They did not have love in their hearts (John 5:42). The leaders claimed to love God but their actions proved otherwise.

After looking up this I thought of a few applications for my life:

First, before reading or studying the Bible, I need to ask for the Spirit’s guidance and leading. It doesn’t matter if I pray this for 15 minutes or 15 seconds. I need to do this and the prayer need to come from the heart.

Second, Bible reading or study can never be a project. It must come from the heart, as God always teaches from the inside out. I wonder if Matthew 12:7 would apply to this, “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” I believe this is saying that God would rather have our hearts than a multitude of sacrifices for Him. 

Finally, when I read or study the Bible, it needs for the purpose of knowing and loving Jesus more. If our time in the Word doesn’t draw us closer to Jesus, then we miss the fruit of our efforts.

I pray this will encourage and be helpful to us to spend time in God’s Word. He wants to meet with us and is ready, through the Holy Spirit, to reveal Himself to us. Do we believe that? Read John 16:12-15. Then after reading it, apply faith and believe it. Our God is truly a great God who wants us to know Him and to live in Him by faith. I think this is the most glorious life we can have in 2017. God bless you all in this new year!!

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