Through the Word in 2020 – June 5 / Asking the Right Question

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When I was being ordained into the Ministry – I had to sit before an ordination council. One of those on that council, a seasoned pastor, warned me about a tendency I displayed. He said that I tended to formulate some of my answers even before the questions had been fully asked. He was right. It has stuck with me in the nearly 40 years since. But as I read today’s account of Peter in
Mark 14:26-42, I find I’m in pretty good company. We both share a similar trait: Thinking more about ourselves, than what is really going on. And so jumping to answers before we fully understand the questions.
More about that in a minute on Through the Word in 2020. I’m Reid Ferguson.
Galatians 3:15-29; 1 Kings 19:1-20:25 and Mark 14:26-42 form our reading list for today. Once again I wish I had the time to note something out of all 3, but will have to content myself with an observation in Mark.
Have you ever been in a discussion on the Scriptures or a Bible study where the first question asked is: “What does this passage mean to you?” I have. And it feeds into the tendency in myself that I mentioned in my opening. It’s getting things out of order. Answering before we really know the question – or all the facts. Putting the proverbial cart in front of the horse that’s supposed to be pulling it. In truth, we can’t really answer what any given passage OUGHT to mean to us, until we know what it means – period.
How does this fit with Peter in Mark? Well, Jesus tells His disciples that all of them are going to fall away when He, the Shepherd – will be struck down, cited from Zechariah 13:7. He goes on to add that after He is raised up – He will go into Galilee before they think to go there, and He will meet them there.
But what does Peter respond to? Not that Jesus will be struck down in fulfillment of Scripture. And not what Jesus could possibly mean by His being “raised up.” These massive truths with all of their eternal implications get totally swept aside, because Peter fixed on what this all meant to HIM! And he wanted to answer the question about his falling away from Jesus, before he even knew the implications of the 2 revelations Jesus had just made. How like me. And maybe, how like you.
In this moment, Peter needed to stop, take a breath, and before trying to arrive at what this all meant to him – inquire as to what all that Jesus just said – meant. Period. His understanding of Jesus’ prediction of the Disciple’s being scattered, and his foolish bravado claiming that even if everyone else did, HE wouldn’t – displayed that he had no concept at all of what was really about to take place. How then, could he possibly assert – with any truth or clarity, what Jesus’ words meant to him? He couldn’t. More, he couldn’t know what this meant FOR him – which is a far different question than what it meant TO him. He jumped the gun. He got it all out of order. Because he was the center, and not Christ.
Our point in all of this? In our reading and study of God’s Word, we must be careful students. We must apply ourselves to knowing what is being said, by whom, to whom, under what circumstances and in context if we are going to read, understand and rightly apply it. Before we can ever truly say: “This is what this passage means FOR me”, rather than just what it means TO me. We must get Christ in the center of it all before we can know the truth, and not just some isolated facts.
Think about that today Christian as you read God’s Word. It will transform your study.
God bless. And God willing, we’ll be back Monday.

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