The other day I was visiting a home bound member of our congregation, and after I read some scripture and talked about it for a moment, she asked, “I’ve tried to read the Bible, but I can never figure out what it’s talking about. Is there some resource that could help me?” I told her I would lend her one of my old study Bibles that I don’t use anymore, and explained how the notes on each page could help her.
But it got me thinking, even if we get people to read the Bible on their own (this is kind of a tangent from yesterday), how much of it do they really understand without someone explaining it (like Philip explained Isaiah to an Ethiopian) or some kind of study guide to help them make sense of what we’re reading? Some of scripture stands on it’s own, but so much depends on knowing the context, setting, author, purpose and what was going on in the world at that moment, and I’ll bet many readers don’t have that information when they sit down to read. Every once in a while I hear a story about someone who picks up a Bible, reads it, and comes to faith in Christ. But I’ll bet there are many more untold stories of those who picked it up, read a part of it, and put it down without understanding a word of it. It’s easy to forget that since I’ve been working really hard for the last 30 years trying to make sense out of it all.
If you’ve ever had trouble understanding the Bible, you’re in good company. The disciples didn’t initially understand a lot of what Jesus taught them. Jesus spent a lot of extra time with them after the resurrection, explaining how the scriptures all fit together around him. It’s nice when you have someone to do that with you. And I guess it’s important for me to spend time doing that, too. I think I’ll start sharing some of the resources and tools that help me get a handle on God’s Word.