If all of God’s communications with the people of faith in the Bible were verbal only, then these communications would dissipate into the atmosphere after they were spoken, and we would be left only with oral legends of the mighty works of God and of the life-stories of the people of faith in the distant past.
Equally important, if all of God’s communications with the people of faith in the Bible were verbal only…but also only applied specifically to each life-script storyline without having universally timeless relevance and application beyond the life-scripts of Abraham, David, or Paul…for example…then recording the themes and life-lessons of these divinely composed life-scripts would have little value other than as interesting reading.
By committing journeys of faith into written form, with all of the relevant backstory details and character growth issues, God lays everything out on the table for believers newly embarking on their own journeys of faith…and in doing so confirms the high value of their timeless relevance for Christians today.
Without the Bible, we would have no written record with which to gage the correctness of our own Christian journeys of faith, especially when we are at the beginning, training phase of taking up our cross to follow Jesus.
Without a standard to go by, the newness of surrendering our own will-and-way to God’s higher ways would and usually does generate doubts and questions…compared to our comfortable familiarity with expected worldly conventional norms.
In Luke 24:13-32, the story is told of Jesus on Resurrection Day overtaking two of the disciples as they walked towards a nearby village from Jerusalem called Emmaus.
The identity of Jesus is miraculously hidden as He enters into their conversation about the recent events of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth who was “a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk. 24:19).
The two men say: “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done” (Lk. 24:21), and then go on to state that women they knew went to the sepulcher early and “found not his body,” had a vision of angels, and that other men then went to the sepulcher and confirmed that the tomb was empty.
While still not recognizing Him, Jesus alleviated their doubts and confusion by using the scriptures to validate and clarify the rightness of His life-script and the totally unconventional “way of the cross.”
Jesus appealed to the written record: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27).
Jesus explained Himself, His actions, and the perplexing events of the previous three days, out of the scriptures.
Even though He told the disciples in advance that He would suffer, be killed, and rise the third day, they were too stuck in the expectant mindset of a triumphant Son of David messiah ruling and reigning in Jerusalem to see a different, better scenario.
God’s “business plan” for growth featured redemptive salvation and a new covenant relationship with believers on a universal basis, extending and ongoing now for two thousand years.
The confusion these two disciples expressed on the road to Emmaus, about the ways of God at this very beginning of the new covenant age, epitomizes and accents the novelty of the danger zone of a walk of faith that rises far above worldly conventional normalcy.
The way of the cross was…and still is…not fully understood because it is so contrary to worldly conventional thinking.
Cleopas and his friend, on their way to Emmaus, were basically saying: “we are sincerely confounded and discouraged by the cross.”
They didn’t say: “Of course we understand all this…the ancient tradition of the Passover sacrifice is a preview through all of the preceding centuries of the recent sacrifice of Jesus only a few days ago for the sins of the entire world…past, present, and future…and we expect Him to resurface any time now because He said ‘destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up’…also, we have Psalm 22 and Proverbs 3:5-6 memorized.”
Cleopas and his friend did not understand the concept of the way of the cross even on the day of the resurrection.
This is why we need the Bible as the written record of the higher ways of God, and why Jesus as the living “Word of God” (Jn. 1:1), appealed to the scriptures in validating and clarifying His own experience of the way of the cross to these two disciples on the very day of His resurrection.
Luke 24:32 summarizes the value of the Bible in written form as the guiding standard and confirmation of the novelty of the way of the cross in the lives of Christians today:
“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”