Love Jesus, yes. Just love Jesus, I’m not convinced that’s the whole of the story. Can we only read the red letters written that Jesus spoke and be saved? Absolutely. Like the criminal on the cross (Luke 23:40-43), the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), both biblical texts showing that we can accept Jesus as our Savior and be granted His forgiveness, at any point in our life, thereby given the gift of acceptance into heaven.
Convincing me that this is all God delights in as we continue through this life would be a challenge, to say the least. So many believers, pastors and laypersons alike, appear to be content in this “just love Jesus” mantra. It is true that we can soak up the books of the New Testament, really zeroing in on the words of Jesus, but staying in that comfortable easy chair eventually neglects the whole glory of God as He’s revealed Himself in all of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
If we’re given the opportunity to, we should develop the desire to know Him more. The Bible has so much to teach us about His character, so many hidden treasures that He will reveal to us if we go searching. I do love the New Testament. However, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Old Testament. It’s often misunderstood because folks can’t seem to reconcile the law and wrath of God in the OT with the grace and mercy of Jesus in the NT.
The trouble with that line of reasoning is that, as believers of the Trinity, the two are one in the same. The red letters of Jesus are equally as important as all of the black letters in the Holy Bible. The Jesus who replies “I am” (Mark 14:62) is the God who replies “I am” (Exodus 3:14), beautifully in sync.
The grace and mercy of God, as recorded throughout the OT, is there. Although it is amongst some of the most gruesome and, many times, seemingly contradictory stories, it is glaringly apparent when read with a heart open to what God wants to teach you. I must say, the story of the crucifixion, as told repeatedly in the gospels, is as gruesome as the numerous accounts in the OT that confuse us to how a loving God could ordain murder (I’ll leave that conundrum for another post!).
The person and work of Jesus begins to unfold from Genesis and throughout all of Scripture until it completes itself in Revelation. The redemption story begins with the curse God lays on mankind in Genesis 3:15, the Exodus account of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the commandments the Lord our God writes down for us as guidance for righteousness, only one of the many prophecies of our coming Christ in Psalm 22, the continued covenants He makes with believers from the beginning of time, and many more proofs of His unchanging love and purposes for His creation until He finally closes the story of Christ’s redeeming work in Revelation.
All of this isn’t found in the red letters, but majestically played out within the black letters. Jesus, many times, repeats OT Scripture in the red letters, so that alone shows the importance of these beloved OT books. So, I love Jesus, but with a heart that compels me to love Him more fully by reading and regarding all that He has to say as worthy of my devotion. God our Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit our Counselor are a complete package. Understanding the Trinity is itself a task that may never come to fruition until we meet Him face to face, but we believe it nonetheless, by faith. So as we walk through this life as confessing Christians, it will serve us well, and glorify Him simultaneously, to give equally high esteem to all of His Word.