Drinking Deeply

Saturday, November 03, 2007 at 10:02 PM

Suffering Lord

If I might commend to my readers one practice for their personal study of the Word, it would be to, every month, pick a book of the Bible and read it through over and over again, once a day if possible. I picked up this idea from John Macarthur a while back, but only started implementing it about a year ago.

It's probably best with shorter epistles, but you'd be surprised at how quickly time will fly as you read. It's also not as useful with the longer books, simply because I felt like I lacked the time, but one day, Lord willing, I'll have the opportunity to simply read through some of the longer narrative passages.

But anyway, it has been this habit that has really helped me understand how people come to describe various books. Philippians is definitely the epistle of joy in the midst of suffering. It is mind-boggling how often the theme of joy is brought up, especially realizing the context. Romans is the Gospel to the Gentiles. Jude demonstrates the necessity of contending for the faith, because without it, we are utterly bankrupt.

Through this habit, I've also realized how out of context I take some verses, and how wrongly applied I took others. It has opened up a world of insight (I definitely don't think Paul wrote Hebrews) and enabled me to remember books better (Daniel begins with 6 chapters of narrative and then 6 of prophecy, and the Aramaic transition isn't directly in the middle). I've found myself really seeing God's Word as more and more of a whole, with big themes running up and down through it. Very very cool.

One thing I've noticed in Mark, in just the first three days of this month is that it really isn't about the "Suffering Servant," as much as it is the "Suffering Lord," or maybe the "Suffering Servant-Lord."

In Mark, the book isn't as much about how Jesus goes out of his way to serve people as much as it is about how Jesus displays His authority. He teaches with authority. He casts out demons with authority. He heals with authority. He has authority over the waves, over food and all creation.

And the second half of the book, where Mark zooms in and focuses on the last few days of His life, we see how Christ lays aside all this authority to suffer for His people. Yes, the greatest act of service and humility, so the title "Suffering Servant" isn't wrong, but this act has much greater significance because Christ is so much greater than just a slave, He is LORD! He's not a highly trained butler with remarkable healing powers, He is God and King, Lord of Heaven and earth, and He has come to serve and ransom His people.

And that just blows me away. It gives me a great example of humility and it calls me to live in a manner that follows Jesus. It challenges me in my pride and pushes me to understand the magnitude of Christ's humiliation. D'oh is an understatement.

I've also noticed just how bumbling His disciples are. They're just utter idiots and fools. They don't understand Christ's parables. They don't understand that Christ is Lord. They don't understand that He's come to suffer and die. You'd think that Christ would have chosen better!

But this gives me hope as so often it seems my walk toward God is more a stumbling in a vague direction toward the light, underwater, but you can't tell because of how murky things are. If God was willing to be patient with those as weak as the Apostles, there still remains hope for a sinner such as me.

So love your Bibles, read it and hunger after it. And may it lead you to a deeper hunger and longing to know Jesus Christ that in beholding, we may become like Him.

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