How to read the Bible and learn what God wants you to assimilate. Matthew Chapter 12:3-7 “Haven’t you read?” Jesus asked the Pharisees who were there to challenge the Author of every scripture. “If you had known what these words mean…” To suggest that the scribes and Pharisees had not read a portion of scripture was an insult to their proud all knowing. These scholars had studied the sacred books continually. Their reputations were built on knowing each word, each letter of scripture, not necessarily the One who wrote it. They delighted in the esteem of others more than God. Back in the day, Jesus quoted the Scriptures that referred to Him, yet they did not recognize Him. The facts which they so diligently collected concerning the words of the old testament did not impress Jesus who stunned them by stating “If you had known what these words mean.” These intense readers of the law tried to punk the Savior on a matter concerning the law. Like a bird of prey uses it’s claws to rip and to tear, the Pharisees targeted Jesus. Why did your disciples pick heads of grain, do they not know the law? The all knowing Pharisees accused the disciples of threshing grain in their hands on the Sabbath to have a snack. Jesus responded “Haven’t you read?” This piercing question insinuated that the Pharisees have not read, yet they were lifelong students of all the Holy Scriptures. Jesus continues “if you had known what these words mean” Jesus knew their hearts and with mercy understood that even though their eyes skimmed over God’s word as they counted every letter, made scholarly notes… yet they did not understand.
Jesus rocked the boat of the Pharisees and He freaked His disciples out as He walked on water. To benefit from reading the Bible, we are wise to ask the Author for understanding and not to take too much pride in how many verses we can quote. As readers of the sacred volume today we need to ask the Helper to give us understanding. There are many translations, and many scholarly commentators, but the best translator is God Himself and He sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us, and give us right discerment. Jesus charges that if a person reads the Bible but does NOT understand what the Word says, then the person has not eaten, digested or assimilated the Bread of Life. We are to gain sustenance as we read the Bible. “Ask not and receive not.” To be nourished, we must ask for understanding that we may take the intended nutrients into us. Feeding upon the truth of the Holy Scripture we grow closer to the Author and Perfecter of our souls. The best food for us is the living and active Word of God. Sermons and books are good but pure streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather up some of the soil to which they flow and the water gets murky as it loses the cool freshness it began with. Living water from the head of the spring is the sweetest truth.
Where living water breaks from the rock that was struck, the first gush has lost none of its heaven vitality. Reading the Bible rather than commentaries about it is the surest way of growing grace. Drink the unadulterated milk of the word of God and not the skim milk of man’s word. Some avid readers of the Bible can read and recite a great amount of scripture. The eye glances, but the mind never rests and therefore, the soul does not light upon the truth and stay there. The eye flits over the landscape as a bird might do, but it does not pause to build a nest and settle into Him with comfort. Again reading without understanding what God wants a heart to grasp is to read and arise yet hungry and not truly fed. There is a way of reading the Bible that punctures and penetrates the hardest of hearts. Before we eat, before we read we ask the Holy One to give us understanding. With our invited Guest, the Holy Spirit on His glad assignment, our soul is satisfied with the fullness of understanding. Reading is no longer a mechanical exercise and profits us much. An Appetite for Truth