I don’t know how regularly other people read Scripture. But I do not read it anywhere as much as I should. Probably a couple times a week right now. When I am into reading Scripture for that day, I want to seriously study it, ask questions, or learn something that I may not have learned or known before. But I don’t always read Scripture. Sometimes it’s because of how my mind works, thinking I should get ALL my other tasks done so I can focus on God, and then frequently getting sidetracked with something else and not spending some time with Him. Other times, I just don’t feel “on fire” with it enough, or interested enough to dive in. And still other times, I’m frustrated or upset with God, so I willfully ignore reading Scripture. That’s the blunt and raw take on things.
But then there are times like yesterday and today where I feel like God is bringing me back around to Him. I don’t know how to describe that feeling, but I’m going to try. It’s like a “loosening” of whatever is holding onto my mind. Be it stress, anger, anxiety, frustration or anything else. My mind feels free. And when God brings me back around, my heart feels at peace too. And I’m genuinely excited to learn and ask questions during and after reading.
For a while, I was on the Gospel of John. I just love the language of it, and the detail with which it describes Jesus’ ministry and mission. It’s so beautiful. There’s just something special about it to me. I can’t completely put my finger on it. But thanks to life as well as my own stubbornness, I became bored with reading Scripture for a little while. I just wasn’t into it. Until yesterday afternoon.
The Spark: A ‘Lost’ Movie
I stumbled across a movie I had never seen before, called The Day Christ Died starring Chris Sarandon as Jesus. It’s a television movie recounting the time before the Last Supper on Holy Thursday right up to when Jesus is crucified on Good Friday. The movie itself wasn’t particularly outstanding in my mind. Plus it’s hard to see Chris Sarandon as Jesus when all I can remember seeing him as, is the vampire Jerry Dandridge in the horror movie Fright Night since I was a kid. But I finished watching the movie out of curiosity. It’s decent. But the most important thing for me was to spend time listening to the words Jesus spoke, as well as seeing another take on Him from a different actor. I always like when actors can offer their own unique takes on Jesus. My favorites are Haaz Sleiman in Killing Jesus, Willem Dafoe in The Last Temptation of Christ, Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazareth, and Diogo Morgado in The Son of God.
But once my mind was focused on Jesus from watching that movie, a couple interesting questions popped into my head: Is Jesus referred to in the Old Testament? And if He is referred to, where can I find these references and how can I connect them to what I already know? So I did the only logical thing anybody would do: Start my study of scripture over at the very beginning, in Genesis.
I haven’t really read Old Testament scripture much. And I know that I’ve always remembered New Testament stuff much better. Minus Isaiah 53, all of my favorite sayings and passages are in the New Testament. Plus God seems a lot harsher in the Old Testament from what I’ve heard. But I feel that in order to fully appreciate Jesus, who He is, and what He’s done for us, we should all become familiar with the Old Testament. So I’ve read up through the first four chapters of Genesis.
The First Messianic Reference?
I do not take the Creation Story in Genesis literally like some other Christians. I combine my understanding of modern science with my faith (see more on that here). But I still appreciate the story of Adam and Eve, and I do believe they were real people. And I think the story helps to explain a lot of our world’s problems. If you believe there is a benevolent God or some higher power, don’t you think they would want the world to be perfect and without any kind of fault, so people could live in happiness and peace eternally with them? That was the case until Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. After they ate the forbidden fruit, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden.
Everyone and their brother knows this story. But something I read yesterday caught my eye, and made me think of Jesus. As God is condemning Satan for tricking Adam and Eve, what He says makes me think He’s referring to Jesus:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) In addition to being called Son of God, Jesus is also referred to as Son of Man. This always confused me until yesterday. I didn’t understand why Jesus referred to Himself by both names. Now I think Jesus did it as another way of showing and telling us who He is: He came directly from God, while also being physically born from the Virgin Mary. So He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man.
Study of Cain and Abel
After reading Chapter 3, I came across another interesting thing. Although this one is unanswerable. When Cain and Abel both present their sacrifices to God, God approves of Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. Cain then becomes sad and upset that God doesn’t approve of his sacrifice. And he also becomes angry and envious of his brother. So much so, that he tricks Abel into going out to the field with him and then kills him with a rock, thus committing the first murder in human history. Here’s the thing though: There’s no explicit reason why God was unhappy with Cain. Some say it’s because his heart wasn’t clean and focused on God. Others say it’s because he received instructions from God on how to offer an acceptable sacrifice and disobeyed. Whatever the reason, I learned one thing: Like in life, it is impossible to know everything in Scripture. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still keep trying to learn by examining things intently.
The Richness of Scripture
After reading the first four chapters of Genesis though, I am interested in learning more about many things. About what God expects of me, and whether or not He refers to Jesus in certain passages. The story of Jesus as we know it in the New Testament is beautiful enough. But I want to see how the Old Testament connects to Him as well, and the only way to do that is by reading, studying and praying or journaling through my thoughts when I don’t understand something.
If Jesus is the Messiah as He says, there should be plenty of references to Him in here. It would be really neat to discover new ones! I may know a few Bible verses and passages. But I don’t want to just use those as ammo in verbal sparring matches with people when they attempt to use scripture to justify hatred. I want to become wiser, help others learn, and strengthen my faith. I was raised a Christian, but I still have a LONG way to go before I feel well-versed in scripture. But I’ll never get there, and I know that. Learning is a lifelong process. One that only ends with death. But it’ll be fun soaking things up while I can! What parts of the Bible are you all studying and why? Can’t wait to hear it! God bless you all!