Missing the Forest for all the Beautiful, Fascinating, Intricate, Unusual, Glorious Trees

““You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” (John 5:39–40, The Message)

I love comparing how The Message paraphrases the Scriptures because it often brings flavor and color to what I’m studying.  This helps my understanding of the passage, as here.  He tells his opponents: “You guys do study the Scriptures, however, you miss what they’re all about.  They are all about me!”  Jesus gives us, suddenly and without warning, the key to understanding the Scriptures, or as Don Carson puts it for Bible scholar studs: “What is at stake is a comprehensive hermeneutical key.” [yeah, my spell checker doesn’t even understand the word “hermeneutical!”]

Here’s what Carson says in full:

“By contrast, Jesus insists that there is nothing intrinsically life-giving about studying the Scriptures, if one fails to discern their true content and purpose. These are the Scriptures, Jesus says, that testify about me. This is one of six passages in the Fourth Gospel where Scripture or some writer of Old Testament Scripture is said to speak or write of Christ, even though no specific passage is adduced (cf. 1:45; 2:22; 3:10; 5:45–46; 20:9). What is at stake is a comprehensive hermeneutical key. By predictive prophecy, by type, by revelatory event and by anticipatory statute, what we call the Old Testament is understood to point to Christ, his ministry, his teaching, his death and resurrection.”

  1.  “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”” (John 1:45, ESV)
  2.  “When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:22, ESV)
  3.  “Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” (John 3:10, ESV)
  4.  “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” (John 5:45–46, ESV)
  5.  “for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” (John 20:9, ESV)

“Do you want to understand the Scriptures [Old Testament]?” Jesus asks his opponents.  “Then you must realize that they speak about me.  If you miss this fundamental key [hermeneutical key to keep the Bible Scholar studs happy], then you miss everything!”

If you do not see Jesus in the Old Testament again and again “by predictive prophecy, by type, by revelatory event and by anticipatory statute,” as Carson points out, dear reader, then you simply cannot understand the Scriptures.

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