Reading the Bible and Missing God


August 31, 2020

John 5:31-40 (NIV)

“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

“You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.


As much as we love the Bible, we have to agree—it’s not about the Bible. At the end of the day the question we must answer does not concern the Bible, but Jesus. We can read, ruminate, rememberize, research, and get every question right, but if we miss Jesus in all that, we’ve missed the whole thing.

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

However, if we miss the whole Bible and we get Jesus, we’ve got all we need. The whole purpose and point of the Bible is to introduce us to Jesus Christ and lead us in the way of following him into the kingdom of God—on earth as it is in heaven.

So am I saying we don’t really need the Old Testament? Nothing could be further from the truth. What do you think Jesus is talking about here? When he said, “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,” he didn’t mean the Gospels or the Epistles. They didn’t exist when he said this. Jesus was talking about the Old Testament. In fact, anytime anyone in the New Testament references “the Scriptures,” they mean the Old Testament.

Though he won’t be named, you will find Jesus in every book of the Old Testament. In fact, that’s why we study the Old Testament—to find Jesus, to more deeply understand him, to better follow him, that we might love God with all that we are. 

We should heed Jesus’ warning. As it was possible for the most devoted God seekers in the first century, it is the same for the most faithful Jesus followers in the twenty-first century—we can read the Bible with great frequency and intensity and be a million miles from Jesus.

The Bible can give us truth, wisdom, counsel, guidance, hope, encouragement, inspiration, caution, warning, rebuke, correction, and so on, but it can’t give us life. Only Jesus gives life.

Let’s keep that in focus going forward.

Only Jesus gives life.


Abba Father, thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the Word of God made flesh. Thank you for the Scriptures and the mysterious and masterful ways they always point us to Jesus. Teach us to read them by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that we might come to know him better. It is in his name we pray, amen.


1. How would you describe your relationship and understanding of the Old Testament?

2. Would you agree that the Old Testament has worlds to teach us about Jesus? What keeps us from really diving into the Old Testament?

3. Have you ever been around Christians who are all about the Bible but seem to bear little resemblance to Jesus? How does that happen?

I want you to PLEASE REGISTER for our Night With New Room Gathering. It’s September 25 6-8pm (central), all ONLINE and FREE TO ALL. Learn more and REGISTER HERE. 

P.S. At Seedbed we asked a very close friend of ours (who happens to be one of the greatest Old Testament teachers in the world) to develop a Bible study for the church. She nailed it. Her name is Sandra Richter and the study is called The Epic of Eden: Understanding the Old Testament. It’s a video/workbook study format. Gather some friends and give it a shot. You will not regret it.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

2 Responses

  1. I believe that Luther said something to the effect , that the Old Testament is the cradle into which ,Jesus was laid.

  2. Continuing to be so blessed by these daily texts. Thank you for providing the audio — or the “hearing” as you wrote about in yesterday’s devotional. It has become a vital part of my morning routine. So life giving. Again, I am grateful.

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