This morning while I was studying a thought hit me. Currently I am developing the next study series The Life of Jesus (201) and this morning I was looking more closely at when Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey. Both Luke and John include this event in their gospels, and looking at what they wrote about this event can give us some clues into a trap that we sometimes fall in to.
Luke’s passage has the Pharisees asking Jesus to silence the crowd (because they were being too loud and disruptive) and Jesus responds with the statement that even if the crowd stopped praising Him, then the rocks would instead.
John’s passage, on the other hand, brings out the significance of this event. John tells us that Jesus was fulfilling a prophecy and that the significance of this event was hidden from his disciples.
However, there was a group of people who understood the significance of this event: the Pharisees. The Pharisees knew the scriptures better than anyone else during that time period. They also knew that Jesus riding into Jerusalem was an ‘attempt’ to fulfill a prophecy from the scriptures, and they did not like it. The Pharisees had become trapped into thinking that passages in the Bible have only one application, and once the meaning has been uncovered, there is no more room for debate.
Jesus didn’t fit the role of a messiah in how they had assembled the scriptures and prophecies, therefore He couldn’t be the one. And, more importantly, this whole event and charade of riding in on a donkey was a deceitful act of a con artist.
When we look at the scriptures as we study, do we fall into the same trap? Do we believe that just because they told me this at church it makes it true? On the other hand, do we believe that since people have believed this for hundreds or thousands of years, then it must be true? Jesus came to be the Messiah of the world and He did fulfill all the prophecies that were written about Him—He just came with a more global motive in mind, and a different way of looking at the scriptures than the Pharisees had in the past. Jesus turned the religious system on its head when He came before. Has two thousand years of tradition kept us from experiencing Jesus for ourselves?
As we continue studying and growing together, let us remember to look at God’s Word with an open mind and an open heart. When we study the Bible this way, new things will jump out at us throughout each passage. When we put our previous set of assumptions aside and take a fresh look at the passage we are studying, we may validate a belief that we have, but we may also grow into a deeper understanding and a fresh truth that we would have otherwise missed.
Have a great week, and keep up the studying. You will have a new habit before you know it!
Tips for studying with an open mind:
- Keep your study area as free from distractions as possible. When you are distracted, you are less likely to see new things that the Holy Spirit may be interested in showing you.
- If something doesn’t make sense, don’t write it off or discount it and just move on. Instead, write out what bothers you about it, and why it bothers you. Perhaps, in this challenge, you will learn something new, and by focusing in on this verse, you will allow the Holy Spirit to connect with you and teach you something new.
- Expect that the Holy Spirit will guide you into a better understanding of the Bible. While it is not wise to run with an inspiration that is based on only one passage, the longer you study, the more you will learn and see themes develop over a variety of passages and these themes will give you a better picture of what Jesus and the Father are like.
Studying with an open mind does not mean that we need to throw away past beliefs. Studying with an open mind means that if we encounter a passage that seems to clash with something that we do believe, we need to dig deeper into the passage and learn more about the author, the subject, and the audience behind the message. We need to be open to the possibility that our belief might need to be adjusted to accommodate a new truth from the Bible, but we should always remember that the Bible is a unified collection of truths and that we need to cross-check our new insights with the other passages in the Bible that cover the same subjects.
Did I miss something, or would you like to respond? Join the conversation below!