My plea for you as we head into 2019 is this: trust that Jesus knows what He’s talking about.
During His showdown in the wilderness with the devil, Jesus proclaimed (citing Deuteronomy 8:3) that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:3). Consider that Jesus hadn’t eaten for 40 days when He made this declaration. This realization should help us see that Jesus knows something about what sustains that we do not.
Most of us don’t skip meals very often. I’m willing to guess that few of us even think much about how many meals we will eat in a typical day. It’s just assumed that they will be there. We may spend time thinking about what we will eat for each meal, but we don’t spend any time thinking about whether or not we will eat at all. Eating is simply considered to be too vital to our wellbeing to pass it up during our regular days. Can we say the same about our consumption of the Bible? I fear that too many of us think of our Bibles more like dessert than bread, as a wonderful treat if we can squeeze it in, but not an essential staple of our daily diet. But that’s not how Jesus saw it, and He demonstrated that He knows what He’s talking about.
Perhaps our trouble with thinking about our need for the Bible the same way that Jesus does is our expectation for what Bible reading will be like. We want to walk away from our Bibles feeling warm and filled, overcome with joy and peace, amazed at having been in the presence of God. More often than not, we walk away feeling the same as we did before we started reading. Such expectations lead to disappointment and discouragement with our Bibles.
That’s why Jesus’ words are so helpful for reorienting our expectations. He didn’t say that “man shall not live by filet mignon alone, or maple bacon donuts alone, or egg-covered burgers alone.” He said “bread.” Simple, basic, unremarkable bread. Most meals that you eat aren’t worthy of Instagram. I’m guessing that you can’t remember what you had for lunch last Tuesday. But your experience with your daily bread is irrelevant to its ability to do its job for you. The ability of food to sustain and nourish has very little to do with how enjoyable or memorable it is.
Likewise, your Bible reading won’t usually be worthy of Instagram. You may not remember much of what you read today in a couple weeks’ time. But at the end of four months, six months, or a year of daily feeding yourself on Scripture, you will find that you have been sustained and nourished in ways that bread can’t supply. Jesus says so, and He knows from experience.
Whether you take my upcoming suggestions for your Bible reading or not, please take Jesus’s words seriously and let it fuel your determination to nourish yourself with God’s Word in 2019.