MY WAY TO STUDY SCRIPTURE
by Jim Mackey
MY WAY TO STUDY SCRIPTURE by Jim Mackey, Presbyter, Mountain Creek Church
There are two distinct ways I like to study Scripture. First, do word studies. Both OT Hebrew and NT Greek offer much more in-depth and expansive understanding to a text than does English. I have long said you could take my entire library as long as you left me a Bible and a concordance. Second, I like to study slowly and insert myself into the story and feel what is taking place. The Bible is about real people living life with a real God. Human sensitivities can be very enlightening as to divine revelation.
A case in point is found in John 13. Jesus sits down with the disciples to share his last Passover meal with them, fully aware of what is going on, “…Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father…” Oh, yes, John tells us Jesus is also aware that Satan has entered into Judas and Judas has set into motion the wheels of betrayal and death. What does Jesus do? He takes a basin of water and a towel, kneels down, and washes the feet of his disciples. Unbelievable.
1). Knowing he is just hours away from certain agony by a Roman crucifixion, he chooses to teach rather than complain. He remains focused on why he is here, focused on teaching his disciples (and modeling for them) how to remain true servants even in the face of negative circumstances. Jesus was not ignorant of plans and strategies taking place on the other side of town; plans designed to be detrimental to his destiny. He chose not to allow his interests to get in the way of God’s interests.
2). Jesus continues to teach and model how to apply the righteousness of God in real genuine authentic life situations. Notice that even though he was aware of the betrayal Judas had planned, Jesus did not forsake his own dignity, walk away from his own character, nor resort to a defensive self-centered anger which would undermine his right to be heard. Jesus would not allow betrayal to distract him from, or cause him to lose sight of, his purpose. Now that is a challenge! I don’t know of anything that is more painful than betrayal, more gut wrenching.
How does betrayal not become an obsession? How can you not become consumed with a desire to make it right? Only when what is greater brings the lesser into subjection…when you are trusting in God’s behavior and that trust exceeds and supersedes your trust in man’s behavior.
3). The disciples were receiving more than a foot-washing, they were seeing divine grace in action: forgiveness that defies human understanding. How can you possibly wash the feet of men who in just hours will abandon you? How can you wash the feet of a man who in hours will curse and swear that he doesn’t even know you? Not once, not twice, but three times! How can you possibly be so inclusive that even Judas gets his feet washed? The man who is about to sell you for the price of a common slave at the slave market. Jesus forgave before the fact…but these men were still responsible for their actions and the consequences.
Insert yourself into that story, as a by-stander knowing what you know 2000 years later. What do you see? What do you hear? What I see and hear for me is that I still have a lot to learn and overcome in my own life before I can fully model the lessons Jesus taught!
I do not always handle pressure well. Most of the time I do, but what troubles my mind are the times I seem to allow the stress and pressure to create a disconnect from the kind of servant I wish to be. In a quiet place, shut in with God alone, as Jesus washes my feet, I would like for his gentle loving hands to rub into me his holy being. So people around me could see him again.
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