Many Christians rightly emphasise the importance of reading the whole Bible, not leaving out any parts or skipping over sections that we don’t like. But how good are we at this in practice? Do we actually end up focusing only on the parts that suit us, that reinforce our own views, and that show that we are right and others are wrong?

I think it’s highly ironic that Luke tells us in 4:16-30 that Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and started reading from the prophet Isaiah as follows:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Luke then tells us that Jesus rolled up the scroll and sat down, while everyone’s eyes were fixed on him… Why? Because he’d missed out the most important part! The next sentence in Isaiah 61 that he was quoting from was

and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. (Isaiah 61:2)

Why does Jesus leave out the part about God’s anger?! Why do you think?

I think maybe the next few verses in Luke give us a clue, as Jesus tells the people gathered that in addition to being a righteous God of judgment, God also cares for and deeply loves those outside of Israel, as he proved by pouring out blessing and healing on the widow at Sidon and Naaman the Syrian. This isn’t popular with the crowd who want him to talk about the destruction of their enemies, and leads to Jesus being taken out of the town and almost thrown down from the top of a cliff!

Why did Jesus choose to be so controversial by deliberately omitting the part about judgment? I don’t for a minute think that Jesus disagreed with Isaiah, or thought that what he had written wasn’t legitimate or wasn’t from God.

I think maybe Jesus saw that the Jews of his day had become so obsessed with the judgment of the nations that they had missed the bigger picture of what God was doing. They had become so focused on their own security, and the destruction of others, that they had missed the role that they were supposed to be playing in blessing the nations.

I wonder if Jesus read the Bible in our churches today, would he leave out any parts, and if so, how would we react…?

Bible

    • Mark says:

      Yeah – I think the whole of Scripture is obviously inspired and important, but it’s easy to get so focused on parts that reinforce our views that we miss the bigger picture.

  1. Tim says:

    Maybe I’m cynical, but I doubt that many Christians know their Bible well enough to know whether Jesus left something out. I know it’s sad, but within the Church we are often too busy fighting about peripheral issues to hear what Jesus is (or isn’t) saying.

    • Mark says:

      Yeah I agree Tim. I think also until recently I’ve read the Bible very one-dimensionally, looking for truth about God, or for God to speak to me directly. While these are both good things, I think it’s only as I’ve started understanding a bit more about how people thought, felt and saw the world that I’ve realised that things aren’t always as straightforward as they may look when we just read the words on the page…! I’ve really been inspired lately to read the Bible missionally, asking “how is God reaching out to these people in particular (given their unique situation)?” rather than just looking for timeless truths.

  2. Hayden says:

    Only one problem. You left out the rest of the script. You forgot to add in why the Lord would take vengeance. All your doing is taking words out of context, making it sounds different than it really is. Jesus stopped because he needed not to go further because the rest pretty much just goes into more detail.
    The whole script:

    The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
    2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
    to comfort all who mourn,
    3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
    to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
    the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
    and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
    They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

    4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
    they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
    5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
    6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
    You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.

    7 Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
    and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
    And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

    8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
    In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
    9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples.
    All who see them will acknowledge
    that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

    10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
    For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
    as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
    11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
    so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.

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