The Word of God is not only a history we should be learning from. It is knowledge we should be growing towards. This is the fifth post in my series “Dining with Jesus.” I want to use this week’s post to discuss the difference between reading and studying the Word of God.
This series began with a post determining the Kingdom of God is something we are experiencing right now, not something that will happen after we take our last breath. If you are a follower of Christ, you are already living in the kingdom of God.
In the second post, the first meal we find in the Gospel of Luke, Levi has a great feast for Jesus. We learn that Jesus came to the world on a rescue mission. His purpose was calling sinners to repentance instead of calling the righteous. Jesus told the Pharisees at the feast that those who are well have no need of a physician. Jesus had come for those who were sick.
The second meal we looked at was held by Simon. He has a feast, and Jesus is the guest of honor. The dinner party is interrupted when a woman who is well known for her sin comes in and weeps at Jesus’ feet. She cleans His feet with her tears, dries them with her hair, and anoints the feet of Jesus with a flask of ointment.
Jesus tells Simon that this woman’s sins have been forgiven, and because she has been forgiven of much, she is full of love. Those who have been forgiven for little are only able to love in small measures. Jesus forgives the woman and tells her to "go in peace.”
The last meal we went over was a little different. Instead of being invited to a feast, Jesus is the host. Jesus feeds five thousand men plus women and children, and He uses His disciples, the church, to take the meal to the people who had gathered to hear Him teach. The disciples tell Jesus to send the crowd away so they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and find lodging and something to eat. Instead, Jesus tells them, “You give them something to eat.”
This week we will be looking at the meal being held at Martha and Mary’s house. While the meal doesn’t actually take place in the passage, preparations are definitely underway. Martha is distracted with all the serving while Mary chooses to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching. The passage is found in Luke 10:38-42 and can be found here.
After Martha makes an issue of doing all of the serving herself, Jesus lets her know that Mary has chosen to do the one thing that is necessary. She has decided to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him teach. Mary has placed herself in a position to be discipled by Jesus.
This is just as necessary for us today. If we consider ourselves a disciple of Jesus Christ, we need to be spending time listening to Him teach. While this doesn’t look like it did for Mary, this has to be something we are doing every day. We do this with our Bible. We study the Word of God, Jesus’ teachings.
Studying the Word of God
There is a huge difference between reading content and studying something. We don’t read the Bible as we would a novel or a blog post. The Word of God has the ability to transform who we are. To have this kind of effect, it is something we have to study.
There is more than one way to study the Bible. Each of us has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Because my relationship with Him is personal to me, you might not study the Bible as I do. This doesn’t mean one of us is wrong and the other right. It means we communicate with Jesus differently. My goal is to give you a few ideas that have been fruitful for me while studying the Bible.
Each book of the Bible was written by a specific human author with a particular audience in mind. Nothing written by Paul was intended for you and me living in the United States in 2021. Because the human authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Word of God should still be a part of our lives today. The Bible wasn’t written for us as we live today. That is why we have to make sure we keep the Word of God in its proper context.
Before digging into a specific book, spend some time answering these questions. Who wrote what you are getting ready to study? Where did they write it from, and when was it written? Who was the intended audience, and what was the specific message the author wanted to convey? By answering these questions, we will keep the Word of God in its proper context, making it more beneficial in our lives today.
What should everyone see?
With the specific text you are reading, what is the message everyone should see? What was the author writing about, and what did God want the reader to understand? This is important for Bible study. We can’t take the Word of God personally without knowing its original purpose. What is the text saying that every one of us should pick up on?
What does the text say to you personally?
Once you have identified what everyone should be reading with a specific text, you will be able to pick up on a specific message God has for you. How does what you are reading apply to your life? What are you currently going through that was similar to the original audience? What was their response, and how can you learn from their situation and circumstances?
Praying in response
Depending on the specific text and how it speaks to you, the Bible should generate an authentic prayer. This gives you a means of developing intimacy with Jesus. One of the most powerful ways we have to pray is by praying the Word of God back to Him. When we can put a personal twist on His Word, this allows God to speak directly into our lives.
What change is needed?
I mentioned earlier that the Word of God can transform who we are. That being said, there is always work required on our part. You have now looked at a portion of Scripture, identifying what everyone should pick up on from the passage. You have made the text personal to you and spent time in prayer about what you have read.
Now, what can you change in your heart, mind, and in your life in general? Every time we spend time studying the Word of God, it should create some kind of change in how we live. How is the Holy Spirit leading you to respond? This is how we spend time with Mary at Jesus’s feet, listening to His teachings. This is the one thing that is necessary if we are one of His disciples.