Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reflections & New Reading List

I was able to stick to my New Year's Resolution and read through the Gospels this month. I would like to keep going on my quest to read through the Bible this year, so I am going to post my thoughts for my time spent with the Gospels, and then list my schedule for the next month. I have decided to follow up my time in the Gospels with spending some time in the Torah. I think this is appropriate because I believe that Jesus came to earth to put flesh and blood on the Torah, so it will be good to have that mindset going into the reading.

Reflections on the Gospels

1. Jesus is Difficult - I suppose that I let my mind get carried away with this image of loving, friendly Jesus who gets along with everybody. I was surprised by the many polarizing aspects of Jesus' life. Over and over again I found myself wincing at some strong words that he said. For example, listen to the way Jesus ends this parable found in Luke 19:27 - "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them - bring them here and kill them in front of me." What do you do with that? I understand that this is part of a parable, but does it carry a literal meaning? I can see how someone could take a text like this and use it for evil purposes. As I read through the Gospels, I sensed God humbling me and reminding me of my need to continually rely on the Spirit for help. Interpreting Scripture is a heavy responsibility that should never be taken lightly or flippantly.

2. Miracles - I forgot what a huge role the miracles of Jesus play in the Gospels. A large chunk of the text is devoted to stories of Jesus healing various diseases, driving out demons, and raising the dead. It also appears that the disciples had these capabilities, albeit to a lesser extent. As a follower of Jesus, I want to pattern my life as closely as possible to Jesus' life. The miracle stories challenged me in my pursuit to follow Jesus. I understand that there are many ways that God can work through me to be an agent of healing, but I sensed the text challenging me on a deeper level to rethink what it means to follow Jesus in this area.

Needless to say, reading the Gospels was a major challenge. At times it was very painful as some of my preconceived opinions and understandings were either crushed or challenged. I guess there is some truth to the idea that the Word of God is sharper than a double-edged sword. Below is my reading list through February:

January 30: Genesis 1-4
January 31: Genesis 5-8
February 1: Genesis 9-12
February 2: Genesis 13-16
February 3: Genesis 17-20
February 4: Genesis 21-24
February 5: Genesis 25-28
February 6: Genesis 29-32
February 7: Genesis 33-36
February 8: Genesis 37-40
February 9: Genesis 41-44
February 10: Genesis 45-50
February 11: Exodus 1-4
February 12: Exodus 5-8
February 13: Exodus 9-12
February 14: Exodus 13-16
February 15: Exodus 17-20
February 16: Exodus 21-24
February 17: Exodus 25-28
February 18: Exodus 29-32
February 19: Exodus 33-36
February 20: Exodus 37-40
February 21: Leviticus 1-4
February 22: Leviticus 5-8
February 23: Leviticus 9-12
February 24: Leviticus 13-16
February 25: Leviticus 17-20
February 26: Leviticus 21-24
February 27: Leviticus: 25-27


Tony Metz said...

"Difficult" is right! Whenever Jesus ceases to be difficult or challenging for us that probably means that we're not paying attention. I couldn't help but think of Matthew 10:34,39..."Do not think that I have come to bring peace to earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword...Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." There is no easy way out of sayings such as these. They invite us to struggle. It is only when we engage in this struggle that we find truth and life in these tough words. Thanks for your reflections Todd, I look forward to "struggling" my way through the Torah with you.

Alex said...

What do you think, please, of Obadiah Shoher's interpretation of the story? (here: samsonblinded.org/blog/genesis-37.htm ) He takes the text literally to prove that the brothers played a practical joke on Yosef rather than intended to murder him or sell him into slavery. His argument seems fairly strong to me, but I'd like to hear other opinions.

Provident 360 said...

Dear Friend,

Regarding Luke 19:27 - It is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? Their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

Keep up the good work.