The Lens of Jesus

I’ve struggled with the Old Testament for a long time. I never understood the passages where it seems like God is behind the killing of many people. Or when the psalmists would talk about getting revenge on their enemies…it always made me feel uncomfortable. It seemed to me that the God of the Old Testament is completely different then Jesus.

Some incredible women from this community and I started reading “Sinner’s in the Hands of a Loving God” by Brian Zahnd and it has shed some important light onto my struggle with the Old Testament and what seems like a vengeful God. 

Zahnd reminds us that we must read every aspect of the Bible through the lens of Jesus. 

When we speak the Word of God, Christians should think of Jesus first and the Bible second. It’s Jesus who is the true Word of God, not the Bible. The Bible is the word of God in a secondary sense, faithfully pointing us to the perfect Word of God: the Word of God made flesh. Jesus is what the law and the prophets point toward and finally bow down to. Jesus is what the law and the prophets were always trying to say but could never full articulate” (50).

In the end, it’s a simple reminder, but one I think we forget. We can look to history and find examples of Christians taking Old Testament verses and making a case for genocide or the death penalty. And we wonder, how does this happen? It happens when we don’t read every part of the bible through the lens of Jesus. And it happens when we take every single part of the Bible literally.

The law and the prophets were a part of the story, but Jesus fulfilled all of those things and over and over again, reminded the Jewish leaders that they had it all wrong. Jesus wasn’t about violence, revenge, condemnation and rules. Jesus is about love – loving our enemies, healing the sick, showing compassion to people who did everything wrong.

I think it’s safe to say as Christians, if we aren’t always looking to Jesus, if Jesus isn’t always the beginning and the end of what we do, if we aren’t reading the Bible through the lens of Jesus, then we aren’t being who Jesus has called us to be.