In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that until heaven and earth passed away the Law would remain.
In today’s passage He says His own words will outlast even heaven and earth. The Law will pass away with the rest of Creation, but Jesus’ own words will remain.
Today we celebrate Bible Sunday and I have two questions; How do Jesus’ words sit within the rest of the Bible and can we trust that our Bibles really contain His words?
Jesus held the Old Testament in the highest regard, these sacred books were Jesus’ scriptures. He revered them, lived by them and taught from them; He regarded them as God’s word.
But He also interpreted these scriptures, He fulfilled the Prophets and reshaped the Law. This does not mean the Old Testament is redundant, far from it, but for Christians it must be read through the lens of Christ and His teaching.
How about the New Testament?
These books comprise authoritative insights on Jesus and His teaching, written by some of His earliest followers. We believe they are inspired by the Holy Spirit and, along with the rest of the Bible, seal up in a written message all we need to know about God’s will for our lives.
Notice then: Jesus is the centre.
The Old Testament flows to Him and the New Testament flows from Him.
Jesus’ words interpret the old and they inspire the new.
But were His words preserved and recorded reliably?
Over the past 50 years, an enormous amount of academic work has shown how accurately people in non-book cultures preserve precious teachings through memory and repetition. But Jesus’ disciples would also have made written notes, which were also used in the writing of the Gospels. We know that the Gospels are records of eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus.
So what happens if you trust these written words of Jesus?
Usually they speak to our hearts and lives; we want to pray; we feel called to live by these words. And we find that, as we pray, the one we are meeting in prayer is the same person we encounter on the Bible’s written page. The Holy Spirit has brought Jesus to us by inspiring the original writers and brought us to Jesus as we seek Him in prayer.
Reading the whole Bible trustingly, with Jesus at the centre, praying from it, and applying it, really is essential to Christian living. It is how we come to know Jesus better, and how we allow Jesu’s words to permeate our souls.
As St Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”.
Jesus’ words are remembered because His hearers were struck by a truth they could trust. They wrote down the words of today’s Gospel reading.
With majesty and grace the word interpret both scripture and the world.
Pay attention to them, let them comfort you when you’re disturbed and disturb you when you are comfortable.
But, above all, find the joy in them.