Cheating at my reading
When I was in high school, I hated to read. I spent much of my time outdoors no matter the weather or time of year. Any reading I had to do was done in drudgery. My eyes read the words, but my mind was someplace far, far away. I hated reading so much that as a freshman in high school, I made up a few of my book reports. I made up the title. I made up the author. And I made up the story. I don’t think anyone could get away with cheating in this way today with the ability of teachers to research book titles and authors on the Internet.
I had a few friends tell me that if I read the beginning and the end of a story, I would get a pretty good idea what was going on. Then if I read some of the middle of the book, I could get the idea of the plot and be able to write a book report (this was still cheating). But that method never worked for me so I never attempted writing a book report by reading in that manner. I either dragged my mind through reading the entire book as if trying to walk through knee-deep mud, or dreamed up a book I reported on. Over the years, however, my view of reading has vastly changed. I am now adamant about reading to gain knowledge.
Interestingly, while in seminary a few years ago, we had an adjunct professor try to teach us to read only the beginning and end of the book, and do skim-reading for the rest of the book. He tried to force us to read in this manner by assigning an overabundance of books for the class. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t like it in high school and I still don’t like it today. I pushed myself to read every one of those blasted books from beginning to end. I was afraid I would miss something good. I was afraid I might miss some of the meat.
Cheating ourselves at reading
I’m not going to pick on you if you are not an avid reader or even if you don’t like to read. Believe me, I understand. My point is that we might be missing some of the best reading and teaching of the Bible because we focus on a few of the main events and skip the rest.
In the Old Testament, we love to read about the exodus of the Israelites, but we miss a lot of God’s love and patience toward His people in the events following their departure from Egypt. We read about Daniel in the lions’ den, but we miss a lot of Daniel’s dedicated life and love for God as Daniel lived under the rule of evil empires.
In the New Testament, we read about the birth of Jesus and many of His miracles, yet we miss much of His teaching. When we read by picking and choosing the main stories of Jesus and only focus on the highlights, we miss much of the real meat of the text. We are unknowingly cheating ourselves out of some of the best parts of the Bible. We are missing some of the best meat of Jesus’ teaching.
From triumphant entry to arrest
Speciﬁcally, some of the most intense teaching of Jesus is found between two major events in His ministry: the time between His triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His arrest. That ﬁve-day period teaches us so much. That ﬁve-day period contains a lot of meat; some of the best meat of Jesus’ teaching.
Consider this. Jesus ministry lasted three years, yet the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John dedicate around one-fourth of their writings of Jesus and His teachings, beginning with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem and ending at His trial. Think about that. These three writers focused one-fourth of their writing on less than ﬁve days of Jesus’ three-year ministry. Luke’s Gospel dedicates 12% of his writing to this same time period. In taking all four Gospels into consideration, this is quite a large portion of writing that covers less than ﬁve days out of three years.
In that short period of time, we have some of Jesus’ most passionate teachings. He had spent the past three years in ministry, instructing and teaching His disciples and followers, but as He entered Jerusalem, He knew His time on earth was short. Jesus knew the time for Him to leave was at hand. He had to get His teaching across to His disciples. He had to be certain they had the meat of His message.
The rush of preparing for vacation
Think about your focus when getting ready to leave on a vacation. Those last few days are busy not only because you need to take care of so many last minute details, but also because you need to be certain everyone knows their duties while you are gone. Is the mail stopped?
Does the neighbor remember to take care of your pets? Does your best friend remember to water your favorite ﬂowers and how often they need watered? Are all the timers for the house lights set to the correct on/off times? Has the toilet tank stopped running? Is the television turned off? Did you turn that last project into your boss at work? Oh . . . is the iron unplugged?
Some of the best meat
Now consider Jesus. He was not just leaving for a short time. He was leaving for good as THE teacher. He needed to be certain His disciples knew all of His instructions and understood as best as possible.
What were Jesus’ last intensifying words before He was arrested and cruciﬁed? Jesus’ teaching between His triumphant entry and His arrest is some of His best teaching. It’s some of the best meat of the Gospels. Why not make that part of your reading this month and ﬁnd out? Let’s all read the Gospel writers’ account of the last week of Jesus’ teaching before He was crucified.
Love you & God Bless