To really make the Bible come alive for you, look at what you are reading from a completely different perspective. When that happens, the words will jump out like living things and excite your spirit.
It’s All About Perspective
There are two things we can do when reading the Bible that really help us understand it in an exciting new light.
- Look for the the Love of God in every scripture.
- Read a version that makes sense to you. In my case that means The Message. ( When I find something that I want to study further, I read that same verse in the King James & the New King James to gain perspective. )
Armed with these two perspectives, the scriptures will really come to life in a way that they never have before.
That being said, sometimes, especially when Jesus is speaking in a conversation, there is another aspect that must be taken into consideration. Use your imagination.
I don’t mean that I try to imagine something that is not there. What I do is attempt to picture what was going on in that particular situation.
How does this help? It keeps me from taking a verse or two and trying to figure out what they mean on their own, when it was never meant to be interpreted on it’s own.
The Rich Young Ruler is Not Who You Think
In this story a rich young ruler comes up to Jesus and asks, “What good thing must I do to deserve eternal life?”, my paraphrase.
What Jesus tells him sounds like a “do good and you will get into heaven speech”. He tells this man to keep the commandments.
The rich man replies that he has kept them all since he was a child. Jesus replies with something like, “Well in that case, you need to sell everything you own, give it to the poor, and come follow me.”
The rich man left with his head hung low, because he was attached to his riches.
Jesus turns to his disciples and tells them that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of God.
Is Jesus Saying the Rich Cannot Attain Heaven?
As we normally read this, it seems as though Jesus is saying that if you are rich you cannot get into heaven, or that you must give every earthly possession away and live like a pauper to get into heaven.
In this case, the only way we can really decipher what is going on here is to imagine the scene itself, and then dissect what Jesus said according to the situation.
For some reason, when I imagine this scene, things begin to pop out to me that didn’t when I was reading it without imagination.
The first thing you hear the rich man say gives us a clue about the whole story. He asks, “What can I DO to DESERVE eternal life?”.
I Always Assumed He Was a Good Man, But…
Originally, I always assumed that since this was a good man, his intentions were pure, but what he asks seems to indicate otherwise. He was not looking to be saved. I believe that would have brought a completely different answer from Jesus. He was looking for what he could do to earn or buy eternal life on his own.
The response of Jesus tells us more. Jesus replied, “You know the commandments, don’t steal, etc…”.
Jesus gave an answer that the rich man was looking for. If the rich man wanted to earn eternal life, then he would have had to keep ALL of God’s laws under the covenant of the Old Testament.
Obviously, this is not possible for a human to do, other than Jesus.
The ruler tells Jesus that he has kept all of the commandments as far back as he could remember. I always took the man at his word, but when I thought about this from a visual perspective, it made me wonder.
Bridge for Sale in California
Could this man really have kept ALL the commandments? Well, if you believe that, I have a bridge in California for sale for a very reasonable price.
The part that threw me here was that Jesus didn’t say, “Oh, no you haven’t!”. If Jesus had replied like that, I might have caught this earlier, but what He says is, “Ok, you’ve done all that, there is still more. Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor. Then come follow me. “
Why did Jesus reply this way? I believe he saw right through this man. Jesus knew that he had not kept all of the commandments since birth, but instead of calling the man a liar, he chose a different way of pointing out this man’s wrong thinking.
Jesus is basically saying to him that you can never do enough on your own, or out of your own power. So he points this out to the ruler by stating that even if he had kept all of the commandments, it would not be enough. He must do more.
This point becomes clear while Jesus is explaining what happened to his disciples. He tells them, “You have no chance at all, [ to make it to heaven ], on your own works, but every chance in the world if you let God do it for you.”
What We do or Have Does Nothing
Jesus saw right through this situation and used it as a teaching moment for His disciples as well as the rich man. The entire point is to get our eyes off of what we do, or what we have and allow God to do the eternal work in our lives.
Don’t worry if this wasn’t clear to you before. Even Peter, who was standing right there when it happened, completely missed the point. You can see that in the last portion of the story. Read it here…
Jesus did answer Peter with another truth, but brought it back to the fact that the gift of eternal life comes, not by anything we can do or have, but by accepting the gift of Jesus himself.
Reading the Bible can be extremely exciting and interesting when we understand how to read it. Perspective is everything.
So the next time you read your Bible, start by asking God to show you His love, and His perspective in what you are reading.
Let’s make the Bible come alive!