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Reading Backwards

Today's Devotional

Read: John 2:13–22 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 16–17; James 3

After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. John 2:22

Reading the last chapter of a mystery novel first may sound like a bad idea to those who love the suspense of a good story. But some people enjoy reading a book more if they know how it ends.

In Reading Backwards, author Richard Hays shows how important the practice is for our understanding of the Bible. By illustrating how the unfolding words and events of Scripture anticipate, echo, and throw light on one another, Professor Hays gives us reason to read our Bibles forward and backward.

Hays reminds readers that it was only after Jesus’ resurrection that His disciples understood His claim to rebuild a destroyed temple in three days. The apostle John tells us, “The temple he had spoken of was his body” (John 2:21). Only then could they understand a meaning of their Passover celebration never before understood (see Matthew 26:17–29). Only in retrospect could they reflect on how Jesus gave fullness of meaning to an ancient king’s deep feelings for the house of God (Psalm 69:9; John 2:16–17). Only by rereading their Scriptures in light of the true temple of God (Jesus Himself) could the disciples grasp how the ritual of Israel’s religion and Messiah would throw light on one another.

And now, only by reading these same Scriptures backward and forward, can we see in Jesus everything that any of us has ever needed or longed for. 

What difficulties concern you about your future? When reflecting on your life, how are you learning to understand and believe God’s story that’s best understood and loved when read with eternity in view?

Father in heaven, thank You for letting me live long enough to see Your ability to show up and reveal the wonder of Your presence in ways I could not have foreseen.


John’s gospel is commonly accepted as the last of the gospel accounts to be written. The apostle wrote to a specific group of readers—believers in Jesus with a Hellenistic (Greek) background—and spent time reflecting on the life of Jesus. John 2:13–22 provides an important insight into faith. John linked the belief of the first disciples with Jesus’ resurrection. After He rose from the dead, the disciples’ belief in Him was confirmed and solidified in a way that reinforced Christ’s own words (vv. 19–22).

Those early disciples didn’t have all the pieces to their puzzle of faith. We, however, have been given a fuller account of Jesus and can see the relationship between His life and His actions. John said the point of his gospel is that we “may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing [we] may have life in his name” (20:31).

By |2022-11-21T03:00:00-05:00November 21st, 2022|
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