One of the things that you can do to improve your Bible reading is to think big picture about the story that is found in the Bible. While we want to be able to apply what the Bible means to our lives in 2016 in Edgerton, MN we cannot properly do that until we understand and take hold of the big picture of the Bible.
We can see the importance of this by looking to the story that Jesus unfolded on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. In that story we come across the resurrected Christ interacting with a couple of his followers as they are on the road. The two people are downcast and Jesus inquires of why they are so upset. They seem shocked that this man doesn't know about all the events that have taken place in the past few days in Jerusalem. Jesus then takes the time to unfold the scriptures for them regarding what the Messiah would have to endure. Verse 27 of Luke 24 tells us that "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." Clearly Jesus is letting those sojourners on the road and us know that he is the center of scripture. To paraphrase theologian Michael Horton, if we are going to try and understand the Old Testament we should probably try to interpret it the way Jesus did, just to be safe.
That means that when we come to scripture our reading of it needs to start with an assumption that this book is pointing us to Jesus in some way. It is tempting to read from the Bible and read yourself into it. It happens all the time and it happens to the best of us. On a radio program recently I heard pastor and theologian John MacArthur talk about the first sermon he ever preached. It was on the resurrection. MacArthur said that he preached on rolling away the stones in your own life. While it may be encouraging to hear that you can roll away the figurative stones that may be blocking success or happiness in your life, the story of the resurrection is not about that. The story of the resurrection is about Jesus and what he has done to save us. In the resurrection Jesus wins victory over death, hell, and the devil and secures for us the reality of our own resurrection from the dead.
Like I said before, "rolling away the stone in your life" may be encouraging for a time, but it pales in comparison to the real story that the resurrection of Jesus is telling us. The message of the Bible is one of God's grace and mercy. If we miss how the whole of scripture points to Christ and his saving work for us we are not rightly handling God's Word. When we handle God's word rightly, we can know that we are faithfully coming to an understanding of who God is and what he wants us to know about himself.
The next time you pick up your Bible to read take a moment to remember the gospel. By centering yourself on Christ's perfect life, death, and resurrection you will be heading into your Bible reading with the main message of the entire Bible in focus. This will help to give you a Christ-centered approach as you dive deeply into the word of God.