In today’s Bible reading from Matthew 11, we read that John the baptizer is in jail. Like Jesus’ disciples, John has become a little disillusioned. He sends word to his cousin asking if He is the one they have waited for to bring the Kingdom of God. Or should they look for someone else? (Matthew 11:3)
As He often does,
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Isaiah 35:5 (CSB)
The Spirit of the Lord God is on
me,because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 (CSB)
Isaiah 61:1 is the passage Jesus read when the synagogue scroll was handed to Him in Luke 4. He says that He is fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy.
Jesus is exactly Who Isaiah prophesied would come. But Jesus wasn’t exactly who everyone was expecting. They expected a victorious King who would ride in on a white horse, overthrow the Roman government and set free the nation of Israel.
But it wasn’t quite working out that way, was it?
So where did John and Jesus’ disciples go wrong? Wasn’t the Messiah going to do those things? Isn’t that what their Bible told them? Yes, their Bible said that the Messiah would be the Victorious King, but it also said he would be a suffering servant. (Isaiah 53) In order for both of these to be true (remember, the Bible never contradicts itself), the Messiah had come as the suffering servant before coming back as the Victorious King.
We have more in common with the disciples and John than we think. We look back at them and scratch out heads thinking, “Why didn’t they get it?” Instead, perhaps we should ask, “What am I not getting?”
Too often we turn to our Bible and read it the way we want to. We read it the way we have heard Bible teachers and preachers have presented it to us. And too often, we don’t go back and read it for ourselves. We simply take the Bible at their word.
Whenever you see things not working out the way you think the Bible has said, don’t go back to what you have heard or read from a Bible teacher or preacher. Go back to the Source. Ask yourself if you heard it correctly. Maybe what you’re expecting isn’t what the Bible actually says. Or maybe there’s more to the story.
Bible teachers and preachers will be held accountable for what they teach. They will be rewarded for being faithful to what God has revealed. But they will also be rebuked for leading people astray.
But hearers are also accountable. We must be discerning who and what we read. We have to be careful who we listen to. Some will give you solid meat. Others will peddle cotton candy.
A few years ago, God challenged me to spend the next thirty days reading only the Bible. I was to not read any commentaries. No “Christian Living” books. I wasn’t to read from my favorite godly, solid bible-teaching authors. Nothing but the Bible. It was more difficult than I would like to admit.
Why? Because in my Bible teaching, I had been merely regurgitating what others had already chewed up for me without gaining any nourishment for myself. At the end of thirty days, I came away feeling refreshed. I came away hearing God’s voice more clearly again.
God wants you to read the Bible for yourself. You need to read and study the Bible for your own nourishment. Yes, God gives us godly teachers — which we desperately need!
But sometimes our Bible teachers get it wrong so we need to dig in and mine the treasures from God’s Word for ourselves.
Try it. You’ll find it very rewarding!