How Jesus Read the Bible

Jesus BibleI think Jesus would read the bible differently than we do today.

Although I am aware that the bible Jesus read was different from ours. Jesus read what was known as the Torah, and what we call today the Old Testament. But while this is true, we can still learn something from examining how Jesus read the Old Testament scriptures.

There are only a few examples where Jesus shows how He read the bible, but one in particular has always interested me.

In Luke 4:18, Jesus reads on the sabbath day from the scroll of Isaiah:

“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.'” (ESV)

It’s interesting to compare this passage with the one Jesus is quoting. The way Jesus reads the passage  gives us a glimpse into how He understood the bible. He is reading from Isaiah 61:1. Read it and see if you can notice anything different:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God.” (ESV)

When you compare the two it’s clear that Jesus intentionally left off that final statement. In Luke’s Gospel this moment signifies the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus proclaims that this is what He is going to do, but He takes special care to leave out that final line in the verse. I think this was done intentionally.

This shows that Jesus came to proclaim the favor of God, not His vengeance. Although in fairness, it is nearly impossible to say with certainty what Jesus actually intended by leaving off this verse. But I find it interesting nonetheless. And if I am going to take a guess here, I think it would be fair to assume that Jesus left off the final portion of Isaiah’s prophecy because God is not interested in vengeance. Instead, Jesus proclaimed the favor of God, the good news that God is for mankind!

How can we learn from this example Jesus gives us?

I believe, preaching hell and sin to scare people into believing is not only a bad idea, it’s something Jesus Himself avoided. Searching the bible for verses to beat up unbelievers seems like working against Jesus. I can’t tolerate it whenever a believer uses the bible to mistreat another human being. The bible shouldn’t be a tool for abuse! Throwing shame and guilt at people has never been a very successful evangelism technique anyways.

Instead, I propose we use the bible to proclaim the wonderful news of God’s favor and grace towards humanity!

This reminds me of a great quote from Harper Lee:

“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of another…”

But I what to know what you think. Leave a comment below!

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