We do not glorify God in our Bible reading when we stack up flash cards of memorized verses, but our memorization never helps us run to God for refuge when trials come. We do not read the Bible to the glory of God when we seek knowledge about God, but we never meet God — when the knowledge we search for never gets into our hearts. Instead, we read the Bible to the glory of God when we see Jesus in it and find joy.
We can drift from God with our Bibles open in front of us.
We are so prone to wander that any activity can be an opportunity for sin, even reading God’s word. Although we may assume activities intended for growth in godliness — prayer, fellowship, Bible reading — are immune to such temptation, we can still fail to bring God glory even as we engage the Scriptures.
The Pharisees had this problem in their Bible reading. Jesus shot straight to the heart of the issue: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39–40).
The Pharisees searched the Scriptures diligently. They devoted their entire lives to memorizing and obeying the Law of Moses. But what does Jesus call them out for? He says they missed the bright neon sign flashing “Messiah.” The Pharisees knew God’s word, but they didn’t recognize Jesus. They never allowed God’s word to penetrate their hearts so that they would desire the Messiah and welcome him when he came.
Imagine taking an interest in your ancestry, creating a family tree, and learning all about your great-grandparents. You know their birthplace, their history, where they worked, how they met, and so on. Now imagine that they walk into your kitchen as you sit down to eat dinner, but you don’t recognize them. You don’t hop off your seat with excitement to hug them. This only begins to capture how crazy it is for us to read the Scriptures and miss Christ.