I had a couple of random observations from listening to the gospels in such a intensive format.
- The writers shared specific details (5 loaves & 2 fishes for 5000 men plus women and children, 7 loaves for 4000 men plus women and children) because these are real stories-- real events-- not euphemisms or general impressions of how miraculous Jesus was.
- Boy, Jesus really came down hard on the Pharisees. And really, a lot of both gospels was spent with all the ways they (and the Sadducees & Essenes) plotted and laid traps to try and trip Jesus up in His teachings. Multiple times yesterday, my heart started praying, "Father, don't let me be like the Pharisees.... seeing, but not understanding, hearing, but not perceiving. Help me understand. Let me perceive what You really mean. Discipline & shape me to be humble and teachable."
- Jesus did a lot of healing. It seems that physical healing is what drove most people to come out and listen to Him, rather than some inward spiritual hungering or thirsting.
- The extensive, specific genealogies in both books immediately reminded me of recently beginning a book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman raised as a Muslim in Somalia, and how as a child, she was taught to be able to list out her ancestors, back at least 200 years. Before she learned almost anything else (practical, religious, or educational) about life, her genealogy was of paramount importance. We don't do this, so genealogies seem superfluous and dull to us, but to someone who values the heritage and history communicated in the lists of ancestors, this would be an important part of the gospels, and of the authority of Christ.
- Jesus laid out the specifics to prepare the disciples for His arrest & death multiple times, "they will hand over the Son of Man to be killed," "She is preparing my body for burial," so many times in fact that it is difficult to believe that the Disciples didn't seem prepared.
- I wonder if the title "King of the Jews" came from the Jewish notion that the Messiah would be a military/political leader? I wonder if He had really been called this by some people, and if certain portions of the population were really trying to thrust him into political power, or if (like I've been told all my life) it WAS solely to mock Him? I don't know. =
- Stay SPIRITUALLY awake! Don't fall into a noncommittal, bland, sideline-style faith. We should always be engaged & prepared for His coming.
From Mark 13: "Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
- I wondered as I listened to the account of Judas going out to betray Jesus if it was the acceptance of sinners that pushed him right over the edge. See, the woman known as a prostitute came and poured out her expensive oil on Jesus, and instead of condemning her, He said she was preparing His body, AND that she would be honored for all of time. From that banquet, apparently right after hearing Jesus say that such a sinful woman would be honored in the Kingdom of God, Judas went out to make his initial plans with the council to kill Jesus. It made me introspectively consider if I am self-righteously put off when outright sinners are accepted and beloved by God. I hope that is never the case in my heart... but that is one of the warnings of Judas to us.
This was such a wonderful, wonderful exercise for me... and I'm so thankful to now own the entire NT produced by the Bible Experience. I highly recommend it for those of you who might be able to intentionally use & listen to an audio Bible. It is dramatically done, and brings vivacity to the text; it enhances rather than distracting.
I hope to do this regularly, to remind myself of the core teachings and truth of Jesus Christ.
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