Give Me Jesus
Listening to some Bible teaching can be discouraging. I have sensed my heart breaking, as I sit longing to hear from God. At times my courage and hope have been decimated, and I felt sick to my stomach.
Here’s one example: “Be a good man like David, and then God will answer your call.” I could feel the visceral reaction. I decided to smile, but inside my heart was pleading “Give me Jesus, sir.”
You see, I cannot be good. I know I cannot be good enough to deserve God to answer my call. Sure, there is a charge to faithfulness and a relationship with God, but nothing I do will merit his saving me the way he saved David. And I’d propose David did nothing close to deserve it either. Should we really be calling David a good man? Is that the intent of how the Bible talks about him? Oh the dirt we have on him. Such revelation of his sin I think is designed to show us he is anything but a “good man.”
Here’s a different one: Another day I took in some Bible teaching--“Trust God. Don’t trust yourself. You’re a sinner. So trust God.” Yes, I want to trust God, but tell me more. If I am a sinner, how can I trust God? In what way? Trust and obey his rules? Do I trust that “gut feeling” when I pray for direction? I’m being told that God is greater than I am, which is true but what grounding do I have for this trust and a relationship? “Give me Jesus, please,” I thought.
For those of us who teach the Bible, in writing, in large groups, or in small circles, we must know that others are waiting on our words. They need to hear what the Scriptures say, calling them to obey, to believe, to repent, but those things are always coupled with God’s grace. What they desperately need to hear is the text in light of the good news of Jesus’ grace, every single time, from every passage in the Bible. Because the entire Bible points the human race to him.
Here’s three reasons we believe this.
1. We believe there’s always been a plan.
When we read the Old Testament, we rejoice that it is part of the overarching story that began in creation. Our Bibles are not two stories, broken between Malachi and Matthew. It’s one narrative involving many short stories in which God has been working to save his people ever since sin, separation, and brokenness entered the world. From then on, each chapter points us forward to what God is doing with hope of salvation. This hope leads us to Jesus where God’s actions of redemption culminate.
2. We believe in the consistent character of God.
The Lord God has always been gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, and the just punisher of evil. (Ex 34:6-7) We do not only see the “tender Jesus-God” in the New Testament. God has always been revealed to us as undeservingly kind and merciful to his people and to individuals.
God has always been a God of grace. So when we read the Old Testament stories or hear the commands to obey, we must see it through the eyes of the God who provides for a people who cannot provide for themselves and who ultimately will provide for them and for us in the death of Jesus Christ.
3. We believe what Jesus said.
Jesus told us that the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings all spoke of him. (Luke 24:27, 44) He claimed that the Old Testament could be read and misunderstood. It could be so dangerously misread that though the readers were looking for true life, they could read and pass over the source they sought. This was because they missed point of the Scriptures-- they bore testimony to Jesus himself. (John 5:39-40)
We still teach the point of every text in context. We still teach about David’s triumphs and the charges to trust God.
But it was our good God who kindly and graciously responded to David. God valued David’s loyalty, but the reason God heroically stepped in to help him was because of his own gracious character. It is this same character that led him to graciously offer salvation to me through Jesus Christ. He offers salvation to me not because of what I’ve done, but because of Jesus.
Trust in the Lord for daily decisions and perspective is helpful. God’s word teaches me much about what is true as I trust in it. But my hope for trusting him, as a sinner who has no right to his love, is rooted in what he has done. It is my trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection makes me a daughter in God’s eyes. This trust is life changing. This trust gives me hope every day.
So, friends, as you teach the Bible, picture me sitting in the back, reading through your words, or smiling in the circle. I’m much like you, longing to know what the Bible says to me. And today, like every day, I need to see the grace of God for me. Give me Jesus, friend.