13 Sep STUDY – IS IT JUST FOR THE “THEOLOGIANS”?
It was just another Sunday as they walked down the paved path from Jerusalem. Hearts heavy, they solemnly discussed the events of the previous week. As they kicked the dust beneath their feet, a Stranger joined the downcast duo. Little did they know that this Stranger was Jesus; His identity veiled from them. As they walked and talked, He began to explain and interpret all of the things written about Himself – the Messiah – throughout the books of Moses and the prophets. After inviting the Stranger into their home, He blessed the bread and broke it, causing their eyes to be opened to recognize their risen Lord before He vanished from their sight. Amazed and astounded, they turned to each other and said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:13-34)
I’ve always loved this post-resurrection encounter with Jesus. I’ve been envious of these followers of Christ who were left with hearts on fire after Jesus Himself explained and interpreted everything written about Himself in what we call the Old Testament. How I have longed to just sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him explain everything in a manner that I could easily understand!
But if you look at Jesus’ teaching throughout His earthly ministry, this type of teaching – where He clearly explained and interpreted everything – was not His usual style. Instead, He spoke in parables and figures of speech, often leaving even His closest disciples scratching their heads, coming to Him privately to have Him explain the meaning behind His teaching. (Mark 4:10, 8:21, 9:32, Luke 9:44-45)
These types of encounters were at one time discouraging – if even they can’t get it who can? How am I, just your average Christian, supposed to understand the deep and often confusing parts of the Bible when Jesus’ own disciples had trouble? I had resigned myself to believe that really understanding the intricacies of God’s Word was for those who wanted to spend several years in seminary pouring over ancient texts and volumes for hours on end.
But then something changed.
After taking a course at my church that helped me to recognize the need for reading and devoting time to God’s Word, the Bible started to come alive as I began to digest it daily. After about a year or so, another shift began. It started small – perhaps I would read a passage of Scripture that reminded me of another passage. Rabbis call this “stringing the pearls” – the act of bringing together passages from different places in order to explore their great truths. This often took me down many rabbit holes, as I researched cultures, languages, maps, and more, seeking to understand. The more time I spent in the Word the more I started to make the connections.
This is where my Bible reading grew into Bible study.
Bible study isn’t something I do daily, though reading my Bible is. For me, studying the Word ebbs and flows. Sometimes I come across a passage of Scripture that I want to dig into a little deeper, and sometimes I determine to spend some time on a particular character or characteristic. Bible study can grow out of wanting to understand something that is confusing or out of desiring to pursue further insight into something I am passionate about.
What I’ve discovered is that the Bible is not beyond our comprehension. It is given by a good, gracious Father Who wants to reveal Himself to us! He has given us His Spirit to help us understand and interpret His Word (1 Corinthians 2:10-16) which is profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The foundational truths are perfectly clear – accessible to every one (Romans 1:19). But I have found great joy in studying the Scriptures, transforming and renewing my mind (Romans 12:2) and searching out the deep secrets of God that are hidden in plain sight for us to discover in His Word (Proverbs 25:12).
Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scriptures, the Book widens and deepens with our years.” Rabbis often comment that each line of biblical text is like a “jewel with seventy faces” – and that we should “turn it, and turn it, and turn it again.”
No other book has the ability to limitlessly speak into our lives. As we are diligent to read it, to study it, God is faithful to transform us through it, shaping us into the people He desires for us to be!
“Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.” Jeremiah 33:3 (AMP)
– Jenni Norsworthy