Bible Reading: Mark 4:1-20
A little silliness, today. I want the Grandkids to read the Bible and understand what it says. That means that they will have to understand certain principles of Biblical interpretation. But that is a pretty heavy topic. So, I thought I might lighten it up a bit by telling them a few jokes…then work my around to it. I know…that’s not like me. I’m so formal and dignified. Okay, that’s the first joke.
Anyway, one of the principles is to not take a verse out of its context. The context includes the historical setting, as well as the surrounding verses where it is found. Sometimes a verse can be difficult to understand…if we don’t do that.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Over the years, I’ve had people tell me some really weird stuff that they thought the Bible meant. I mean “weirdo” stuff. For instance…
Ecclesiastes 10:1 (NASV)
Dead flies make a perfumers oil stink…
What in the world? Why would a person put dead flies in their perfume? What was he making…bug spray? Get it…dead flies in perfume…bug spray. Who knows. Actually, a “perfumer” is a person who makes perfume. Sometimes, he may leave the pot uncovered that he is making the perfume in. Flies smell the sweet aroma and try to land in the pot to get a drink. Oooops! Several flies slipped into the perfume and drowned. Now, the dead stinky bodies of the flies make the perfume smell bad. Solomon is saying that in the same way that the flies ruined the perfume…
…so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.
…acting in a foolish manner (doing something without first thinking about what the consequences could be) can have very bad results. In fact, it takes less effort to look bad by acting in a foolish manner…than it does to look good by acting in a smart manner.
Genesis 41:46 (NLT)
Someone told me that the Bible says that Joseph was a tennis player. I asked where it said that. They gave me this verse…
- He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh,
Really…”serving”…like you serve a tennis ball on a tennis “court”. I don’t think so. That’s not what it means. The word “court” means that Joseph worked for Pharaoh in his government. Read on…
the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt.
Acts 1:14 (KJV)
Someone else told me that he could prove that the disciples of Jesus didn’t ride camels and donkeys…but they drove cars. He showed me the first part of this verse…
These all continued in one accord…
That’s amazing! The disciples were riding around together in a Honda Accord. It’s right there in the Bible. Not really. The rest of the verse says…
…in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
The word “accord” actually means “to be in agreement”. The disciples agreed with each other concerning the things that they were praying about. It has nothing to do with a car.
Revelation 8:1 (NASV)
- When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
One man told me that this verse proves there are no women in Heaven. Get it. If there were women in Heaven…there would never be any silence in Heaven. Don’t give me that look…I didn’t say it. “One man” said it. Come on…that’s just funny…I don’t care where you come from.
One day, a husband told his wife to make them both some coffee. The wife replied that the Bible says that it is the husband’s responsibility to make the coffee for himself and his wife. He asked her where it said that and she gave him this verse, Hebrews 4:2. Get it. He brews for two. “He” brews. The husband makes the coffee. Pretty lame, huh? Yeah, I know…that’s not what it means. But he didn’t. He made the coffee. He’s also the same man that told me about the silence in Heaven. Go figure.
I’m going to be here all week…folks. I could go on all night. But, let’s get to the point.
It is a dangerous thing to try to understand what a verse from the Bible means by only reading part of the verse; or, by just reading one verse and not reading the verses that are around it. You can come to some crazy conclusions. Never take one verse by itself and try to determine what it means. Always study the verses that are on both sides of a verse to understand it. Someone said, “A text without a context is a pretext.” That means that if we try to understand what a verse means without giving consideration to what to the verses around it…we will probably come up with something on our own that can completely wrong.
Jesus once said that He taught in parables in order to get people to listen. After all, everyone enjoys a good story. He said that sometimes people don’t listen because they are afraid that if they do listen…God might speak to their heart about something that they are doing wrong and they would then either have to change what they were doing, or they would have to continue doing it, knowing that God had told them that it was wrong. So, they just decided to not listen…thinking that they could then say that they didn’t know that it was wrong.
But here in the passage where Jesus said that…if we don’t read it in its context…it almost sounds like Jesus is saying that He taught in parables…so that some people would not understand what He meant and they would not know that they needed to change their behavior. That would be a pretty harsh thing to do. Doesn’t sound like the Jesus I know. And guess what…it’s not. That’s not what Jesus meant.
Context. We understand what Jesus meant when we read it along with other verses. In fact, in this passage, Jesus was quoting a verse from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. So, Isaiah is part of the context. Isaiah said that this is what the people had decided to do…to not listen. God had spoken to them over and over…but they refused to listen. Then, Jesus quoted that same verse and said that the people who listened to Him were doing the same thing. They refused to listen…because if they did they might understand that they were doing wrong…and have to change their behavior. And they didn’t want to do that.
What about you? When you read the Bible…do you do what it says? Or, do you read it…and then just go ahead and do whatever you want? Don’t ever forget this…God loves you so much that He inspired men to write the Bible so that you could know what He has determined is the very best thing for you. Someone has said that the Bible is God’s love letter…His love letter to you. Don’t close your ears to God. Listen. Listen closely. Do what God says. He knows what is best for you. Now do it.
Oh, and by the way…did you know that Joshua didn’t have any parents? That’s right. He had none. You figure it out. Read Exodus 33:11. Have fun.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,