the weblog of Alan Knox

John 5:39-40 and another purpose of Scripture

Posted by on May 4, 2010 in discipleship, scripture | Comments Off

In yesterday’s post, I said that one of the purposes of Scripture is good works. (See “2 Timothy 3:16-17 and one of the purposes of Scripture“) Today, I want to look at another purpose of Scripture, this one coming from John 5:39-40:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40 ESV)

In this passage, Jesus is giving the Pharisees a list of those who testify about him. Here, he points them to Scripture. The Pharisees accept Scripture, and they study Scripture, but they have not allowed Scripture to point them to Jesus.

Thus, once again we see that Scripture itself is not the goal. The Pharisees studied Scripture, but they missed the goal of Scripture, which, in this case, is Jesus.

But, did Jesus only expect the Pharisees to find him in Scripture? No. Remember the story of Jesus walking along the road with two of his disciples (yes, there were more than 12) after his death and resurrection? This is what he said:

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27 ESV)

So, Jesus showed them how various passages in the Law and the Prophets pointed to him. (By the way, Jesus does not say that every passage of Scripture is about him. Instead, this passage says that he pointed to those passages in “all the Scriptures” that did concern him.)

Once again we see that Jesus did no expect Scripture to be an end in itself. Studying Scripture for the sake of studying Scripture – for the sake of knowing exactly what Scripture says – is not the goal of a follower of Jesus Christ. Just as we saw earlier that one goal of Scripture is to produce good works in those who read it, we can also see now that Scripture points to Jesus.

By the way, like Paul, Jesus was talking about the Hebrew Scriptures – the Old Testament. Just as Paul thought the Old Testament should lead a believer toward good works, Jesus said the Old Testament should point a reader to himself.

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But, this should be a reminder that our goal is not to get people to Scripture, but to Jesus. Scripture may be a tool in that process.