Having spent a number of weeks reading through Luke, individually and together, we looked at the final chapter - chapter 24. What an amazing account. Read it here.
After his resurrection, Jesus talked with two of the disciples as they walked along the road to a place called Emmaus, fed up and downcast with all that had gone on.
And on that walk, we see something of how Jesus saw the Bible - or more precisely, what we now call the Old Testament. The amazing thing is, he basically said that the whole bible is about him! Now we might expect that the New Testament is about him (which wasn't written down at that point) but he was talking about the Old Testament!
Here's what we looked at. These can be longer blog posts another time. But here's a summary.
1. Jesus' view - what did he think of the Bible?
He said it was all about him, starting from Moses and all the prophets. All of them! Everything was pointing to him as the culmination of it all. He says it is all telling one big story. We talked a lot about this conversation with the two disciples and the different parts of the Old Testament he would have been referring to. Wouldn't you love to have heard that conversation?
2. The Story - how does it hang together?
So the whole story is about him, as we read about the creation of a wonderful world; the sin and shame that came into the world and is the cause of all the brokenness; the hope of relationship and honour restored through sacrifices - and ultimately fulfilled in Jesus; the new creation of people of all nations gathered in God's kingdom one day. One overarching story, even though it was written over 1500 years by more than 40 authors, in 3 languages!
3. The Manuscripts - where do we get it all from?
There are more manuscripts, and older manuscripts than for any other ancient documents. We have Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic (the original languages) manuscripts which all demonstrate that the Bible has not been changed, and that what we hold in our hands today is reliable, and is what was first written.
4. The History - is it accurate and true?
Old manuscripts don't mean its true though. Does it fit with history? Yes it does. Many many archaeological discoveries confirm the times and events written about in the Bible. Sometimes there are events that people do not know about, and sceptics say it must have been made up - but it is not unusual to then find archaeological support in later times. For example, people were sceptical about the existence of Pontius Pilate (the governor who presided over the trial of Jesus Christ) until they found something with his name on. Likewise, Belshazzar, the king in the book of Daniel. But then stones unearthed referred to him, even explaining how he was co-regent with his father Nabonidus, who was often away, giving light to why Daniel was honoured in the 'third highest' position in the land.
5. The Message - does it have the 'ring of truth' about it?
This sounds subjective, but the question is - is this written as fiction? It is not how people wrote fiction in those days. 'Real life' style fiction is a modern development. It is clear the writers intended what they wrote to be understood as fact. And it's worth asking - would anyone have made this up? The odd details. The counter-intuitive reasoning. The way all its heroes are shown warts and all - only one standing out; Christ. And his path was to suffer and die. Who would make this up? Who could make it up? And who could then make the whole thing hang together as one story?
More on these things another time.