Soaking Ourselves in Jesus's Teaching: Reading, and Re-reading, the Gospels1
The popularity of Jesus’ life and ministry has bred contempt for modern Bible readers. As a result, countless Christians assume familiarity with Jesus' teaching without ever immersing themselves in them. The posture of Jesus’ disciples, however, is that of student; a student who carefully studies his life and ministry. Jesus’ disciples, then, soak themselves with His words and actions by reading, and rereading, the Gospels.
Over the next several months as The Journey Church studies The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), we're challenging our members and regular attenders to participate in this Gospel-marination process by reading, and rereading, the Gospel of Matthew in their devotional times. Here are three practical ways we can submerge ourselves in Jesus’ teaching:
- If you’ve never read the Gospel of Matthew in its entirety, begin by reading one chapter a day for 28 days. In less than a month, you’ll have read the whole Gospel.
- Regardless of your familiarity with The Sermon on the Mount (SOM), you can give special attention to it by reading Matthew 5-7 at least once a week for the next 8 weeks. And, as you’re able, read all three chapters in one sitting.
- For those who have more flexibility with their schedule, try reading the entirety of Matthew’s Gospel in one-sitting (that’s right, all twenty-eight chapters at one time). The key here is not “studying” every verse, but familiarization with the story of Jesus. Jesus’ life feels like staccato events stitched together for many of us because we’ve never encountered His life in the Gospels as the narrative they are. A quick reading will enable readers to address one of Matthew’s chief concerns as he clarifies the identity of Jesus throughout his Gospel and seeks to narratively answer the question, "Who is this man?"
As we read (regardless of which reading plan we follow above), its helpful to note that one of the keys to reading the Gospels well is to read them with the literary features of a narrative in mind. Two of the crucial questions readers can ask while trying to understand individual scenes throughout the Gospel are: “Where will I see this again?” and “Where have I seen this before?” This is particularly pertinent when interpreting the beginning of the Gospel narrative in light of the end, as well as the end of the Gospel narrative in light of the beginning OR when discerning connections between Jesus’ life recorded in the Gospels and the Old Testament as he fulfills scriptural expectations.
By reading, and rereading, the Gospels may we encounter the life of Jesus afresh.
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