In today’s lectionary reading (Luke 13:10-17) Jesus challenges the ways that Pharisees, elders and teachers of the Jewish Law were interpreting their scriptures and conducting their worship.
My encouragement for the congregation this week: We must to let Jesus challenge the way we read scripture, and we have to let Jesus challenge the way we do church. The only way we’ll have a church full of young people like we did last week is to allow young people to shape the service in a way that speaks to them.
I don’t want you to shy away from reading scripture! I want you to read scripture regularly, confidently and well! Here is ONE process for studying a passage of scripture:
- PRAY before reading scripture. Pray trusting that God will give you wisdom.
- 4-Step process for developing an understanding of scripture: “O.I.C.A.”
O: Observation: who what when where why how
CONTEXT and CONTENT are what you are aiming to understand.
who is writing? who are they writing to? when were they writing? where are they writing?
what was happening at the time? what issues were they addressing? (why are they writing?)
Use as many or as few tools (dictionaries, concordances, translations, but not commentaries yet) as you have to gain understanding of the passage.
what does this passage say to you, here, now? God always speaks through scripture – he longs to communicate with you – what is he saying here?
Do other passages of scripture say similar things? Does this interpretation fit with everything else that I know about God and scripture? Do other members of the Christian community think that this is a reasonable way to understand this passage? You can compare your understanding with those of other Bible Commentaries at this stage if you want to.
God gives us scripture to convict us and to encourage us (2 Tim 2:2, Heb 4:12), so that we will be transformed into the people he made us to be, children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). What things must you do or not do as a result of reading this passage?
- PRAY for wisdom to understand and for courage to do what must be done.
- TELL someone what you have read and what you think God is telling you through that passage.
This reading shows the Pharisees, who have studied the law all their lives, being told that their understanding was flawed. Let’s strive to always trust and follow the living Christ, rather than cling to the understandings and practices that are holding us back.
May your times alone with God and together with fellow believers be abundantly fruitful!