People sometimes complain that the Bible is too difficult, that they can’t understand it. Certainly, like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. It does take faithful Bible reading habits to connect some of the dots, to see sinful man and a sinless Christ in the ceremonies and sacrifices of Leviticus, to get a handle on the numerous kings of Judah and Israel and the warnings and comfort to be found there, to use the clear passages of the Bible to open up the wondrous visions of Ezekiel or Revelation.
But there is nothing complex about the accounts of Creation, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the book of Genesis. Any child can appreciate the drama of Moses’ life in Exodus, the exploits of King David in 1 & 2 Samuel, the life of Christ in the short and simple sentences of the four Gospels, or the no-nonsense approach of St. Paul when he talks about faith in Christ and Christian living.
Too hard to understand? More often, the problem is just the opposite. People do understand what Jesus is saying. The Jews of Jesus’ day were not offended because they did not understand what Jesus was saying. They were offended and even sought to kill Jesus precisely because they did understand what He was saying.
Christ is the great Simplifier. “I am the Bread of Life,” says He, and makes the sandwich on your plate remind you of Him. “I am the Living Water,” says He, and makes the water in your glass a liquid sermon. “I am the Light of the World,” says He, and even the lamp in your living room brings your Savior to mind. Christ’s claims are simple and straightforward: “Without Me you will forever be hungry, thirsty and lost in the dark.”
Too difficult? Just the opposite. Amid all our modern chasing after changing therapies to cope with the human condition, amid all of the weird sociological, psychological and entertainment gimmicks to reach graying baby boomers and disaffected millennials, Jesus cuts to the chase. He tells us that our real problem is not our dysfunctional childhood, our crummy family, our lousy job.
Our real problem is that we are lean of soul, thirsty of heart, lost in the dark. Our real problem is sin. We have trashed our friendship with the One who gave us life. He summons us to repent, to change course. He invites us to trust Him who lived and died to do away with the rubbish of our sinful past and painful present, who promises a new life that will make us wonder why we were ever satisfied with our old life.
Christ, the great Simplifier, holds wide His arms and promises to be all that we need – the Bread of Life, the Living Water and the Light of World. Isn’t that simply wonderful?