Get Into the Word: Matthew 13:14-17
“For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back—and I would heal them.”
What is the Bible about? Loaded question, I know. Can you answer it in one sentence?
If we know what the Bible is about, we know what God is about. And once we know a person, we then determine if we can trust them.
Over the years my answers have been all over. For a long time, the Bible was about how I was supposed to live and a constant reminder of how I didn’t measure up. My head knew it was good news but my heart didn’t quite feel the same. I was overwhelmed by guilt knowing I did not reach its impossibly high standard. But I’m hard-wired to strive, so I kept trying.
My solution was more reading, prayer and discipline. But eventually, I would lose steam and welcome a plethora of distractions in exchange for my inadequacy. My guilt would only get heavier, so I would shake it off, promise Him I wouldn’t do it again, and repeat. There was grace too, but I thought it was only for salvation and certainly didn’t want to bother Him by needing it regularly.
Perhaps out of fear that God might later regret choosing me, I attempted to make Him proud by trying to take it from here. It never occurred to me that my Saviour might find my feeble attempts at independence more preposterous than pleasing.
The real problem was I read the Bible as though it were about me.
But then my dad was diagnosed with ALS, and everything changed. The Bible was my only hope.
What once felt permanent was suddenly passing away, and God’s promises became everything. He became everything. As I read the Bible, I began to see Him.
In that season, I heard the entire Bible summarized in a few seconds and light began to shine on what I failed to wrap my mind around for the better part of a decade—it was one story.
Like the first crack of sunlight flooding the darkness at dawn, I began to see the big picture of the Bible: a loving Father with a relentless desire to be at home with His children.
This slowly changed how I read the Bible.
With the big picture in mind, the smaller stories, my story and my present struggle all found their rightful place simply as a continuing part of the greatest story.
Why do we need to understand the big picture in order to study Scripture?
Without the big picture as the backdrop, we can make the Bible about us rather than about God.
When the disciples asked Jesus why He taught in parables, He answered because many people listen and never understand and look but do not perceive. Isn’t it a bit unsettling that we can be up to our ears and eyes in spiritual stuff and somehow still miss seeing, hearing and understanding Jesus?
Jesus’ solution to their darkened understanding was twofold: Turn back and He would heal them.
Did you catch that? Not fixing, correcting or improving but healing.
Why do we need healing?
Next week, we will look more closely at the “big picture” of the Bible in order to answer this question. With the canvas in place, we will read the Parable of the Sower with an understanding of how it fits into the bigger story.
A cultivated heart is one that is willing to turn back to Jesus, over and over and over again, until He heals them.
Talk to God today
HE: Thank You for giving me a revelation of Yourself in the Bible.
ME: I confess that I have sometimes approached Your Word like it’s about me, not You. I’m so sorry.
WE: Empty me of myself so I can be filled with you. Open my heart and mind so I can understand the Bible as your one continuous story.
Describe a time you desperately had to lean on God’s promises. How did you experience His faithfulness?
This post is an excerpt from Cultivate: 40 days of Preparing Our Hearts for Him. To learn more, or to sign up, CLICK HERE.