Matthew 21:42 – Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” NIV
Jesus was talking to a mixed crowd in the Temple. Many were common folk who had heard Scripture, but certainly didn’t have regular access to read Scripture. Some of His greatest critics in the crowd were very highly educated men in the Scriptures. They had read, copied, and discussed them. Yet Jesus says to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:…” Jesus called to their attention a couple of verses in Psalms (118:22-23) that was a prophetic description of the Messiah’s acceptance by the religious establishment. He applied it to how His critics viewed Him. They rejected Him, yet His mission would become the foundation of God’s plan of salvation for humanity.
Some of the people gathered that day missed the point because they had literally never read the Scriptures. They were ignorant of their content. Many people today are like that. They discuss religion and Christianity and do not have a good grasp of what is in the Bible because they have never read it. Many Christ-followers have never completely read the book that they purport to base their faith on. Unfortunately, I have met ministry leaders who have never read the Bible completely through! They know parts of the Bible very well; but lack the counsel of the whole Bible.
A few years ago, I was talking to a man about his faith journey. He had been attending worship services with his wife who had experienced new life in Christ. I asked him if he was ready to make that commitment. He replied that he had begun reading the Bible and was not ready to commit to anything until he had read the book. In all my years of ministry I had never had a reply like that; but I was thrilled because I knew that God would honor his search. I was thrilled at his answer. I wish more people would search the Scriptures as they seek God. He follows Jesus today!
Others in the crowd missed the point not because they had not literally read the Scriptures, but because they were not open to the Holy Spirit’s revealing of the meaning and application of the Scriptures. We might say that they were more concerned with the letter of the Law than the spirit of the Law. They could tell you the content and where it was found in the scrolls; but they didn’t fully apply it to their relationship to God and to other people. They missed the Messiah.
It’s difficult to hear God’s voice if we don’t try to communicate with Him? One of the primary ways that He does this is through the Bible. I’ve always thought: why would God give us a special revelation if we have neglected to read the basic instruction manual? I encourage people to read the Bible through regularly (yearly if possible) but repeatedly with different versions and different notes or even in a different language, praying that the Holy Spirit would speak to them in some new way through what they read. I have read the Bible from cover to cover; but find that many people get bogged down in Leviticus or Numbers never to complete the reading of the Bible. I suggest that people keep track of their reading and alternate between Old and New Testament and eventually cover the whole Bible.
What’s this mean for me today? Have I read the whole Bible? If not, how can I accomplish that in the next year or two? If so, do I continue to read it through on a regular basis using different versions or in different ways? Do I ask the Holy Spirit to open my mind to what I am reading? Do I seek ways to apply its truths to my life? Do I seek to hear from God as I read?