We are all familiar with at least some of the things Jesus said. But have you ever wondered what he meant? Join us as we begin a new series explains some to the fascinating, strange, or even controversial things that Jesus said.
Think of the last time you were out and about and you felt your phone vibrate in your pocket. What do you do? You pull it out and read the message. Have you ever read the message and thought “What does that mean?”
Text messages are great. They are a easy and fast way to communicate with someone, but what they offer in ease and quickness sometimes they sacrifice in clarity. We can read the message and think, “He used an explanation point instead of a period. Are they mad?” Or someone sends us a text and when we read it we find ourselves confused by it or maybe a little angry because we are not sure how to take it.
Here is my point: Have you ever read something that Jesus said and wondered “What does that mean?” Sometimes us or maybe one of our friends can get confused by what they read in the Bible. We might be wondering what did Jesus mean by saying, “love your enemy” or “Don’t worry about your life.” Or what is up with Jesus cursing a fig tree in Mark 11? I mean I get angry from time to time but it seems odd for Jesus to be cursing a tree that he made.
If we have trouble interpreting text messages, it’s perfectly understandable if two thousand your of text give us a hard time too. Whether you have been a Christian for fifty years of for five minutes, you are never going to have Jesus all figured out. But having a hard time understanding Jesus’s words and teaching isn’t the same thing as being unable to understand them.
So, how do we begin to understand Jesus’s words?
1. Remember who the sender is. When you get a text message that makes no sense, what’s the first thing you do? Double-check who sent it to you. It helps you understand it better. When we come across a passage of scripture that makes no sense, take a moment and remember who sent it to you: the Father who cares for you, who wants you to succeed. He hasn’t given us a book that we are incapable of understanding. We can trust him.
2. Consider the context. The second thing we do when we get a confusing text message is to scroll up a bit, to remind ourselves what we were talking about. Often there are clues in our previous conversation that help us decipher confusing messages. In the same way, take a step back and look at the broader context of the passage. Who is Jesus talking to? What did he say before these verses? What time period and group of people was this written to? Context can help us understand things that would make no sense on their own.
3. Ask for clarity. Our last resort is to text the person and say “…what?” Sometimes we have to acknowledge our inability to understand what they meant. In the same way, there are passages of the Bible we need help to understand. For those, I recommend three things: a good study Bible, a set of commentaries that are readable and that you enjoy, and a community that can come alongside you and help. Naturally, our first stop should be prayer, as we ask God to guide us in our desire to understand his word. And we can be confident that when we ask him for good things, he will answer us.
So, what’s the last confusing “text” you got from God? What passage of scripture has been bothering you lately? Try following the steps above and see if God can help you make sense of some of the things Jesus said.
4. Do what he says. Ever gotten a text that you knew must have been meant for someone else. You read it multiple times and it just didn’t make sense. So, what do you usually do? Reply back “Wrong Person.” The two of you have a good laugh and you move on. But here is the deal when God speaks to you your message back cannot be “sorry wrong person.” Jesus spoke things in the Bible that are relevant for our lives and they are things that he wants us to do.
Over the next four weeks we are going to be looking at statements that Jesus said. Statements that might be a little confusing for us today but there are statements that are still very meaningful and statements that we need to be living out.
Come join us as we kick off a new series – Jesus Said…