Don’t Miss the Point: Understanding The Bible
By Steph Nickel
Understanding the Bible is critical to spiritual growth. The disciples sometimes had difficulties understanding what Jesus truly meant, and would end up missing the point. Today we also can have trouble understanding the Bible. Steph Nickel encourages us to pray while we study the Word of God, and to encourage our children to do the same.
Oh You Of Little Faith
Matthew 16:5-12 says, “When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, ‘We brought no bread.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Forgetful much? The disciples had witnessed Jesus feeding thousands with only a few fish and loaves of bread, and yet when He mentioned “the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” they thought He was referring to their oversight. You see, they hadn’t brought any bread on the journey. Was that really an issue for the Lord? Of course not.
After Jesus fed the 4,000, the Pharisees and Sadducees demanded a sign as proof of Jesus’ authority, but the Lord refused to perform for them. The miracles that revealed His love for those who were broken and hurting should have been enough, but they weren’t.
They should have been enough for the disciples, but they didn’t get it either—until their Rabbi, their Teacher, explained it to them. His followers had one of many ah-ha moments and realized He was referring to the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Understanding The Bible and God’s Directives
But let’s not be too quick to judge either group. Instead, let’s consider what we can learn, apply, and go on to teach our family.
We must consciously remind ourselves of what the Lord has done in our lives and in the lives of others. When we are faced with a difficult situation, this knowledge will serve as a wonderful reminder that God didn’t forsake us in the past and won’t do so now—even if we have messed up. We may have to remind ourselves of this often. This knowledge often seems hard to hold onto.
Plus, we must take the time to examine His directives carefully. What is He really saying? It may not be what, at first, seems apparent. Jesus’ warning in today’s passage had nothing to do with physical leaven, with bread, though that’s the conclusion His disciples drew.
And speaking of the actual meaning of His warning, we can learn from that too. We must be careful to steer clear of any teaching that does not line up with the Word of God, no matter who presents the teaching. Remember Paul’s commendation to the Bereans, who always made certain the apostle’s teaching lined up with the Scriptures.
Helping Our Children With Understanding The Bible
How can we help our children learn these truths?
As a family, I would encourage you to make a list of how the Lord has provided for you in the past. When you face a challenge, I suggest going back to the list and reading it over. Remind yourself of God’s love and care and remember what it says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Remember, although we will mess up, God is who He has always been and He still loves us.
I would also encourage you to pray for wisdom and insight every time you read God’s Word, alone or as a family. It’s too easy to assume we know what the passage means, but we must not miss what the Lord is seeking to teach us. It’s no wonder God’s Word instruct us in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
In order to teach your children to rightly handle God’s Word, why not ask them what they think the main point of the scripture reading was. Listen to their thoughts without passing judgement. You can also ask them questions like these: How do you think this lesson applies to your life today? Do you think God is teaching us anything else from this passage? Does this story remind you of any others in the Bible?
Understanding The Bible: Prayer and Study!
I also encourage you—and myself—to set aside more time to study God’s Word and pray. It is too easy to hit the ground running in the morning and get to the end of our day and realize we have spent little, if any time, meditating on God’s Word. We promise to do better, but then the next day comes and it’s the same thing.
Here’s the challenge: Add a total of just 10 more minutes of prayer and Bible study to your day. When this becomes a habit, add another 5-10 minutes. You can do so while driving to and from work, while on your lunch break, instead of watching just one more episode of your favourite TV show, instead of beating one more level on your video game. Why not discuss with your family how you can each add time in God’s presence to your daily routine?
The more we prayerfully read God’s Word, the more we will understand the lessons He wants to teach us.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
Stephanie’s show, “Family Life Lessons,” airs from Monday to Friday on HopeStreamRadio.
More About The Bible
Andrea Thom – Bible Study Redefined
Aaron Basko – Bible Quizzing
Bryan Windle – Bible Archaeology Resources
Christie Thomas – Why We All Need to Read the Bible
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HopeStreamRadio has been a huge blessing to me. Since I moved away from an area that had a lot of good Christian radio I have been looking for a station that I could listen to and be encouraged by. HSR has filled that void and it has also been exciting to be a part of the team that contributes to HSR.Mike from MS