How Did We Get The Bible?
What's the big deal?
Why is this book still around?
Maybe an even better question - and the answer to that last question - is how did it begin?
I'm glad we can create a safe space to ask questions.
As we dive into The Bible more together and are reading through the Gospel of John, let's take a moment to think about - how do we even have this book?
Because when John and Mark and Luke and Matthew were writing about Jesus, they didn't know they were writing The Bible. They weren't seeking publication. They were so overwhelmed with hope and joy and wanted to tell everyone they could about this man who they knew as the Son of God, who had died and rose again.
Telling such a story could not only affect their reputation - people probably thought they were crazy - but it also could mean their own death!
It wasn't something they set out to do for their own ambition. If anything, it would cost them everything and gain nothing of this world. But they knew it would glorify God and allow others to know the redemption of the blood of Christ poured out on their behalf, and so they wrote.
But before we get carried away, let's back up a bit.
When we open up The Bible, we feel the delicate pages or we may access it with our fingertips using the YouVersion Bible App. We see headers, chapters, verses, even maps in the back. We notice some of the font is black while some of the font is red.
But this is not how The Bible started.
So, who wrote it? Did Jesus write it?
No, Jesus didn't write The Bible, but it was written to tell about Jesus.
The story of how we got The Bible doesn't start in the beginning with creation. It actually starts in middle ...ish.
Luke was a physician during the first century. Luke's wealthy friend, we're going to call him Theo, was a first century Christian who wanted the details of the life of Jesus documented. Thinking of who could write this, he thought of his friend Luke.
He's very detailed. He has that investigative mind of a physician. Yep, he's the guy! Truly, we see this in Luke's opening words,
...since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. - Luke 1:3-4
Okay, but we have to get one thing straight here. Luke was writing the life of Jesus; He was not writing The Bible. ...because the thought of "The Bible" didn't even exist yet!
But why was this something Luke was so passionate about? I'm sure he had so many other things to do as a physician.
Well, here's the thing - when Jesus died, the mourning was great among those who followed Him. His closest followers, the disciples, were deeply confused. And had the story ended there, there would be no "The Bible."
There would be no need for it.
A man lived and died. The end.
Except it wasn't the end!
Not even close!
Luke wrote this very detailed account of Jesus' life because His life didn't end beaten and bruised, nailed to a Roman cross.
Jesus was seen ALIVE after gruesome murder on the cross and being placed in the tomb!
Followers risked their lives, telling others - even those same leaders who put Jesus on the cross - of His resurrection.
And it wasn't just Luke who wrote about the life of Jesus.
Mark did, too. His account is action-driven. He sticks to the events.
A man named Matthew did, too. His writing is aimed at showing how the Jewish text (what we know as The Old Testament) points to Jesus and how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish scripture. He is making it clear Jesus IS the Messiah, the one the Jews have been waiting for. He also wants to make sure we know Jesus didn't just come for the Jews alone. He came for all of us!
That's good news, friend. It doesn't matter what your background is or isn't, where you're from, what language you speak, where you live, who your parents are, whether you prefer Chick-Fil-A or Cane's. None of that matters. Well, maybe that last one matters.
I kid, I kid.
Jesus is not a respecter of persons ...or chicken. He came for all of us.
And, then, there's John. He was very close to Jesus and is very clear why he took time to write for us:
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. - John 20:30
Still No "The Bible"
Still at this time, there was no such thing as "The Bible."
The word and details of the life of Jesus are spreading and thousands of people are being saved and becoming Christians. These hand-written accounts are being shared and duplicated to be shared even more.
Even from the get-go, it was considered valuable and holy, worthy of risking a human life. How many of us would risk a life to save a document?
But these early Christians refused to call Caesar "Lord" and refused to let future generations live without the truth. For them, it wasn't just a "document." It was an eye-witness account of the greatest miracle ever known!
An early edict was declared throughout the land to have all Christian literature burned. And that could have been the end, however, Constantine the Great later allowed these documents to be kept and for Christian scholars to meet. It was in this time they put The Bible together as we know it.
It's not in chronological order. There are elements of narrative and poetry, 66 books written by more than 40 different authors over a span of 1,500 years. Because of this, it can be intimidating to read.
There are many reasons we don't read The Bible. We may think it's old and has no relevance to today's world. We may think it's a good idea but we don't really understand it.
Well, take it from someone who has had all of the above thoughts and more, taking time to read it will help us understand it. Understanding it will help us apply it to our current day and see how God is the same yesterday, today and forever and worthy of our praise and our worship and our time with Him.
Friend, it starts with reading.
Honestly, what could it hurt?
5 minutes each day reading a book that has endured a lot longer than any of the popular titles we are quick to pick up.
And what could it do?
Could it change your eternity? Restore your relationships? Heal the wounds deep inside? Bring peace to your mind, will and emotions? Stir hope and give you purpose for your days? The list goes on and on.
I think it's fair to say the benefits outweigh the risks in this. Let's try this together -
In the weeks ahead, we're going to take time to see how we can approach The Bible and see it not as a bunch of little stories we've heard but one all-encompassing story that includes you and me.
May we find strength in the Word of God. May our joy for reading scripture grow as we intentionally choose to set aside time to spend reading it each day. May our peace overflow as the Word of God reads us and changes us from the inside out. Then, we will know rest this world can't give.
I hope you're reading John with me this month. As John so clearly shared, he wrote it so we would believe. If the Gospel of John was all we had, it would be enough to tell us Jesus is the Savior of the world!
Remember how we said 5 minutes a day can change your day, your life and even your eternity? Well, here's what I'll be reading this week. I really hope you'll join me!
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
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