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The Pleasures of Meditation: Lesson 6

Scripture forms our lives

Luke 10.25–37

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • August 6, In the year of our Lord, 2017

  1. Can Reading the Scriptures Be Dangerous? 
    1. The word of God is likened to fire, a hammer, and a sword.
      1. Jer 23.29
      2. Eph 6.17
      3. Heb 4.12
        1. Can you hurt yourself with fire?
        2. Can you hurt yourself with a hammer?
        3. Can you hurt yourself with a sword?
      4. The word is also like a rope.
        1. You can use the rope to pull yourself to safety or
        2. you can use the rope to hang yourself.
    2. Yes, we should read the Bible.
      1. Yet, how we read the Scriptures should also concern us.
      2. Do you give keys to an inexperienced driver and say, “Drive this car”?
        1. Which can do more harm?
        2. Driving a car or misusing the Scriptures?
    3. Likewise, watch how we handle the Scriptures.
      1. We sometimes use them as an inexperienced driver does.
        1. The power intoxicates us.
        2. We use it without regard to the damage we can do.
      2. Eugene Peterson is insightful,

        We pick up a Bible and find that we have God’s word in our hands, our hands. We can now handle it. It is easy enough to suppose that we are in control of it, that we can use it, that we are in charge of applying it wherever, whenever, and to whomever we wish without regard to appropriateness or conditions (pp. 81–82, emphasis in original).

    4. Is there more to driving a car than turning the key and stepping on the gas?
      1. The maintenance
      2. Rules of the road
      3. Rules of nature
      4. Other vehicles and obstacles
      5. Weather conditions
    5. Is there more to reading the Bible than opening it and repeating the words?
      1. Rules of language
      2. History
      3. The purpose
      4. The Author
      5. Other people
    6. Have you heard, “Let the buyer beware”?
      1. What does that mean?
      2. When it comes to the Bible
        1. should we not also say,
        2. “Let the reader beware”?
          1. Is it enough to own a Bible?
          2. Is it enough to read it?
            1. What dangers does the reader need to know about?
              1. Luke 12.47
              2. Jam 1.22–25
              3. 2Pe 2.20
            2. We may own a copy of the printed Scriptures, but
              1. if we truly meditate in the Scriptures,
              2. the Scriptures own us.
  2. What Is Your Reading of the Bible?

    26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” (Luke 10.26).

    1. Some translations have the second question as, “How do you read?”
      1. By reading the whole context,
      2. how do you think the lawyer read the Law?

        25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” 27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” 29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10.25–37).

        1. What do you think of the lawyer’s initial question?
        2. What insight did Luke give us into the lawyer’s question?
          1. He was testing Jesus.
          2. What does that mean?
            1. In some way, he hoped to catch Jesus making a mistake, or
            2. hoped to get into an argument with Him
              1. rather than truly wanting to know
              2. how to inherit eternal life.
                1. Moreover, he was attempting to use Scripture
                2. for his evil purpose.
        3. Was there anything wrong with the lawyer’s Bible knowledge?
          1. There was something wrong in his attitude toward Scripture.
          2. He knew what Scripture said, but he did not know why it was said.
        4. He attempted to avoid taking the commandments personally,

          Defining “neighbor” depersonalizes the neighbor, turns him or her into an object, a thing over which he can take control, do with whatever he wants. But it also depersonalizes the scriptural text. He wants to talk about the text, treat the text as a thing, dissect it, analyze it, discuss it—endlessly. But Jesus won’t play that game. The scholar has just quoted words of Holy Scripture that witness to the living word of God. They are words to be listened to, submitted to, obeyed, lived. So instead of inviting the scholar to join him in a Bible study of Deuteronomy and Leviticus under the shade of a nearby oak tree, Jesus tells him a story, one of his most famous, the Good Samaritan story, concluding, as he had begun, with a question “Which of these three, do you think proved neighbor to the man…?” The scholar is impaled by the question: the words of Scripture can no longer be handled by means of definition, “who is my neighbor?” The text insists on participation, “will you be a neighbor?” Jesus insists on participation. Jesus dismisses the scholar with a command, “Go and do…” Live what you read. We read the Bible in order to live the word of God (p. 84).

        5. Therefore, merely reading or merely knowing the Scriptures
          1. we are still dead,
          2. no more alive than
            1. the words we have read or quoted, but
            2. those words become life when we do them.
    2. Consider the Pharisees.
      1. They knew the word, but they did not know Jesus.
        1. Matt 19.7
        2. Matt 23.1–3
        3. Matt 23.24
        4. What happened?
      2. Their problem:
        1. Matt 16.3–4
        2. Matt 23.6
        3. Mark 12.39
        4. Luke 11.43
        5. Luke 16.13–14
        6. John 5.37–47
        7. John 8.42–44
      3. Most people believe that the problem of the Pharisees was strict obedience to the Law. However:
        1. Matt 15.1–6
        2. John 7.19