The Journey of a Bible-Reading Life

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Listen to today’s Daily Text

daily text logoFebruary 11, 2016

Matthew 1:1

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

CONSIDER THIS

Fly-over country; that’s how I’ve mostly treated the genealogies in Scripture throughout my Bible reading life. And yes, for the longest time and the most part I have considered this first page and chapter and verse and following of the New Testament as fly-over country.

Speaking of my Bible reading life, there are at least three distinct phases of that journey. For the longest time, I read the Bible in an “Ought to” way. After all, it’s the Bible, for crying out loud and I was supposedly a Christian and Christians just ought to read it. I was pretty much checking a box when I read it. Next there was the “How is this relevant to my life” phase in which I jumped around from here to there, extracting anything I felt had immediate application to my daily life. It was a good and growing season, but after awhile I became somewhat stuck. I began to sense that I was reading my own meanings into it and interpreting it according to my own frameworks.

I now find myself in the third distinctive phase of life with the Bible. I would call it the “want to” phase. So what’s different about phase 3? I think my motivation has shifted from reading the Bible for myself to reading the Bible for God. I don’t meant that to sound all super-spiritual. I think I am finally learning to read the Bible as a disciple of Jesus. In other words, my first set of questions don’t have to do with me but with God.

The genealogy here at the beginning of Matthew fleshes out what I am trying to say. In the early “ought to” phase I don’t think I would have even seen it much less read it. In the “how is this relevant to my life” phase, I would have seen it and tried to pronounce the names and quickly gotten back up to cruising altitude. It was “fly-over” country. In this third and present “want to” phase, I ask myself questions like, “Why would the Holy Spirit put this in the Bible,” and, “What is being revealed about the nature of God here,” and, “What does the Holy Spirit want me to understand about Jesus and his mission in the world from this ancient text,” and even, “What were the implications of this ancient list of names for the first followers of Jesus,” and finally, “How do those ancient implications inform our present day discipleship?”

In phase 3 I am finally learning to read the text “for God—for the sake of myself.” I see phase 4 in the distance and I think it might mean learning to read the Bible “for God—for the sake of others.” All of this is not as clean cut as I am making it and the lines between phases get blurred at times, but I think you see my big point. It brings me to:

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

This time we aren’t going to “fly-over” nor will we “drive-by.” This time we are going to get off the bus and walk through this genealogy; not as scholars though scholars will help us. We will walk through this Holy Spirit inspired genealogy of Jesus as disciples of Jesus. We will not pass by as tourists. Instead, we will pause, and often in awe, as pilgrims walking on holy ground.

You might want to take a few minutes and walk the track now by reading through the entire genealogy to familiarize you with the territory and terrain. The physical terrain is challenging but we will not grasp the spiritual geography without walking these miles together. So lace up your comfortable walking shoes now. ;0)

Daily Text MATTHEW 02-11-16

THE QUESTIONS

1. Describe your former approach to and engagement with the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel.

2. Why would this be the first page of the New Testament?

3. Do you see the difference between reading the Bible for yourself vs. reading it “for God—for the sake of yourself.” Flesh that out in your own words. Where are you in your “Bible-Reading Life?”
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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