The Bible for Grown-Ups

Day 3 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

PRAYER:


Take a moment to ask God to help you gain understanding about how the story of the Bible began.


READING:


In the Beginning


Our stories and the story of the Bible begin not in Genesis. The story of the Bible began on Easter when Jesus was discovered alive after he’d been crucified. If Jesus hadn’t been crucified and didn’t rise from the dead, there would be nothing to write about. So, here’s new information: Jesus didn’t write the Bible, but Jesus is the reason we have it.


And the reason men and women decided to write down an orderly account of Jesus’s life was to tell others about what they had seen with their own eyes—a resurrected Savior. And thus, the church began in the same city where Jesus was arrested and crucified.


It’s important to understand that after the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written, there still was no Bible. But very quickly, the early church held in high regard and considered these four documents to be Scripture.


By now, the apostle Paul and others left Judea and began telling Gentiles, non-Jewish people, about the claims of Jesus. And the biggest struggle for the Gentiles who wanted to embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior was the idea of having only one God. In ancient times, people didn’t convert from one religion to another. Every region, every nation had its own gods, and most families had family gods and worshiped their ancestors.


In fact, in the first and second centuries, Christians were actually considered atheists. Why? Because they didn’t believe in the gods. Then, they added a new one who claimed to be the only one. So, this was an obstacle for Gentiles that embraced Christianity. Yet, more and more Gentiles came to faith in Jesus, and when the Gentile world became enamored with one particular Jew, Jesus, they became enamored with the sacred text of the Jews. 


Before Jesus, there was always a tiny percentage of Gentiles who followed Judaism as closely as possible. But for the most part, Gentiles had virtually no interest in the Jews and the Jewish religion until they were introduced to the gospel, teachings, and claims of Jesus and until they were confronted by the apostles Paul and Peter and other eyewitnesses to the resurrection. 


Do you know why Rome allowed the Jews to have a pass as it related to Caesar and the Roman gods? Because Rome honored ancient things, and the Romans recognized that the Jewish Scriptures and Judaism were older than the story of Romulus and Remus, older than the pantheon of Greek gods, and older than any of their own religions. So, when these Gentile Christians first began to explore the Jewish text (or the Hebrew Bible, which they called the Law and the Prophets, not the Old Testament) to find Jesus in there, they were shocked to discover that the oldest religion anyone ever knew about had recognized that there was only one God from the very beginning—Yahweh.


Now, the Jews had known this from the beginning. Genesis is a Greek word and it means origin. It’s the first book of our English Bibles, and Moses wrote it. So, the Gentiles moved very quickly to adopt the Hebrew Bible as their own Christian Scripture setting the stage for the inclusion of Jewish text in the Christian Bible. 


REFLECTION:


As you think about the first written accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, why do you think the eyewitness accounts were so important? How does learning about those eyewitness accounts affect your faith?