Reading is an amazing blessing.
Most of us don’t think much about it, but we are blessed to live in the time we do. In the last few hundred years, we’ve measured literacy in terms of who can NOT read. In the time of Jesus (and up until a few hundred years ago), literacy was measured by who COULD read.
Today, we are primarily a reading culture, but until recently, education (which included reading and writing) was very expensive and was not considered a right anyone had. Thus, culture was primarily oral.
While that should make us appreciative of reading and education, it should also impress us that for most of human history, we had to depend on our memories far more than today. The early church was no different.
Jesus is at the Last Supper (His final meal before His crucifixion) in our study through John’s Gospel. He told them in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” He continues talking to His disciples about obedience and the Holy Spirit in John 14:22-26:
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.John 14:22-26
New International Version
At this point, the Apostles were still wanting Jesus to make Himself known to the world as Messiah and did not understand why He was being so secretive with His plans. The other Judas, also called Thaddeus, wanted to show Jesus to the world as their rightful King. But Jesus was not going to be THAT kind of king—a common theme in the Gospels.
Very soon, Jesus should reveal His identity to the world, but not as the King of Kings. He was soon to be revealed as the “Suffering Servant.” So once again, Jesus had to explain the situation to them.
Jesus taught them (again) He would be made known to the world, but He would be made known through them.
Jesus reminded them (again): anyone who loves Him would be obedient to His teachings. Those who do not love Jesus would be disobedient. When we obey the teachings of the Lord, God makes His “home” with us. They were afraid of being left alone, remember? Jesus promised them they wouldn’t be.
Do you know what, dearly loved of the Lord? Jesus promised you that you’d never be alone either. And you aren’t. When Jesus told them (and us) these things, He was speaking of His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy from places like Ezekiel 37:27 and Jeremiah 31:33.
“My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people”Ezekiel 37;27, NIV
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people”Jeremiah 31:33, NIV
Jesus said in verse 26 in our text today that the Holy Spirit, our Advocate, will “teach” us “all things and will remind” us “of everything” He has “said to” us. When we put the treasure of God’s Holy Word into our minds, our lives are built up and guarded.
The Holy Spirit then allows us to digest this food of the Spirit and nourishes us with the Living Bread. So many people say, “I can’t understand it! It’s too hard!” And you know what? You’re right. It is hard. It takes work. It takes discipline. It takes patience because it takes time.
But it’s not impossible—not at all. The Holy Spirit is within you, dear Child of God, and helps you interpret and apply Scripture. He will show you the pathway.
Yes, reading is a remarkable gift of the modern world. It is a blessing to be able to read the words of Scripture. More than that, our call is to not read the Bible but heed it.
As I will often tell people, “Get into the Bible, so it gets into you.” How are you getting into the Word of God, so the Word of God lives through you?