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Wilhelm Busch was a pastor in Germany. One day he told 500 men about a Bible that had been shown to him somewhere in Austria. In the Bible there were blood stains. At some stage during the 18th century it was forbidden in Austria to possess or to read the Bible. One night a farmer and his family were busy reading from a Bible, their only one, when they were caught. The farmer refused to hand over the Bible to the soldiers and a struggle for the Bible followed. A soldier became furious and shut the open Bible, with the hand of the farmer still between the pages, with such force that blood spurted forth from the farmer’s fingers. But still the farmer didn’t release the Bible. He, along with his Bible, was exiled from his country. The men who listened to Wilhelm said: “That’s surely insane.” But Wilhelm replied: “Was the man really so crazy? Think about it. If we didn’t have the Bible, how would we know the way to God, and how would we know about the salvation in Jesus Christ?”

Only parts of the Bible, as we know it today, were available at the time when the Psalms were written. Yet even then it was realized how precious the word of God is. Ps 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, containing 176 verses. In almost each of the verses the author sings about the Word of God; his laws, his commands, his instructions, etc. For example: How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word (Ps. 119:9). How happy I am because of your promises – as happy as someone who finds a rich treasure (Ps. 119:162). People often see the laws of God only as rules to restrict their freedom, and should they transgress, they would be sinning. But sin includes things like theft, murder, unforgiveness, grudges, unfriendliness, selfishness, pride, sexual abuses, etc. Sin is to do things harmful to yourself and /or your neighbour, and that’s what God, in his love, wants to protect us from. Hence the Psalmist’s exclamation: How happy is the person who fears the LORD, who truly delights in his commandment (Ps. 112:1). He who sins, punishes himself. Solomon writes: Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded  (Prov. 13:13).

The most amazing way in which God talks to man, is through Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus is called the Word: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1-3, 14).

The farmer in Austria read about Jesus who was crucified. The farmer realised his sins were washed away by the blood of Jesus that flowed from his hands. To be able to read about that was more important to the farmer than the blood from his own hands. That’s why he couldn’t let go of the Bible, the precious Word. How else would he know the way to God?


Thank you, God, for your Word. Please work in us through your Spirit so that we will understand your Word, the Word that leads us to Jesus. Amen.


Gert Berning