So often when witnessing, those with some Bible knowledge raise concerns about contradictions in the holy text. Sometimes there are those simply earnest seekers trying to make sense of the Scriptures. But in this age of skepticism, more often than not these are attempts to discredit the gospel and its claim on souls. These discussions about supposed contradictions are actually great opportunities to show a person what the real problem is with his Bible study. It is his own heart.
Certainly Jesus dealt this way with many Bible contradictions people brought to him. From the woman at the well who could not figure out where the Word of God said to worship; to Pharisees who did not understand Christ was central to the Old Testament; to disciples who from the Scriptures could not see that the Messiah would suffer and die, so many Bible contradictions really proved to be heart problems. From immorality to pride to triumphalism, respectively, the Lord exposed to these folks that their struggle understanding Scripture was not with the text but with the lens through which they were reading it.
So it is with me. Personally, I find in meditating on the Bible that when I run across a text that arrests me because it does not fit together with my knowledge of Scripture, usually it is because I am blinded to a vital gospel truth. Case in point. Recently I read Proverbs 16: 7, which says, “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” I nodded in agreement, but then a question came to mind. “Wait a minute. What about Christ?” I thought about how his ways were so pleasing to the Lord that God the Father had him go up on a mountain. There, Moses and Elijah visited him. His true glory was revealed to three of his disciples. Heaven itself opened up as God declared that Jesus was his Son in whom he was well pleased. Yet we know Christ’s enemies plotted against him, convinced the Roman authorities to put him to death, and turned the hearts of the people of Israel against him. So for a time it did not seem that this Proverb worked for Jesus.
Then, as I thought more, the supposed Bible contradiction opened up my own heart malady once again. Jesus’ ways were and are indeed always pleasing to the Father, but mine are not. For in the scene recounted above of the Mount of Transfiguration, think of the context. Jesus was discussing with Moses and Elijah his impending departure from Jerusalem. Both before and after this event he reminded his disciples that the Christ must suffer, die, then be raised three days later. The Father declares his pleasure because he sees his Son walking in obedience to his appointment at the cross. His enemies were stirred up against him because it was time for our sins to be placed upon him. The problem is not with him but me.
As I further reflected, more truth came to me. He has made me, once his enemy, to now be at peace with Him. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…For if while were were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:1, 10).
So now I can personally say of Christ, “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” I of all people should know.