Have you ever noticed that God manages to accentuate what you are studying—in unexpected ways?
My Bible Study Group has been studying a book called The Family of Jesus, by Karen Kingsbury. In this study we looked at what the stories of six of Jesus’ families members might have been like. It was an interesting exercise within the bounds of Scripture and the known customs of the day to set our imaginations free to “walk in their shoes.” Throughout the study, Karen encouraged us to consider how our personal stories connect with theirs.
At this same time a new movie came out in the theaters that my husband and I went to see called Risen. This is the story of the resurrection of Christ as told through the eyes of an unbeliever.
CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE IN THE BIBLE
Since I was already focused on stories I was easily drawn in to this story. And while not everything in the movie was based on scripture, I did love how I was able to connect in an emotional way with the people I read about in the Bible. One of my favorite scenes was when Jesus was with the disciples and there was a leper nearby. As Jesus walked toward the leper the disciples got so excited! They said, “He’s going to do it!” And He did. Jesus healed the leper!
I’ve never thought about how exciting it must have been to witness Jesus healing someone. That scene brought life to the Scriptures in a new way for me.
Luke 10:1 tells about a time when Jesus sent out 36 pairs of men to go “ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” In verse 9 Jesus instructs the men to “heal the sick who are there and tell them the kingdom of God is near you.”
Verse 17 says, “They returned with JOY and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’” Just imagine what that must have been like! How could they not return with joy? Having the scene from the movie in my mind helps me get in touch with the emotions and it gives me the desire to take a fresh look at Scripture and the people whose lives are shared with us there.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HEAVEN WILL BE LIKE?
Jesus told them in verse 20 not to rejoice that spirits submit to them, but to rejoice that their names are written in heaven. When’s the last time you did that? What do you think heaven will be like? That’s another great exercise for your imagination—I doubt we can top what God has planned for us.
And then there’s the reason I’m thinking about all this today. I had the opportunity to serve on the worship team and during Communion I was in the alcove alone with all my story focus and thoughts of the crucifixion.
I questioned who would I die for in such a cruel way? What did Jesus do? We talk about how He took our place—I can’t wrap my head around every sin of every person who ever has or ever will live. I guess you would say that I “dumbed it down” and considered a very elementary example. If I had committed a crime, say I had stolen something, and my guilt was proven and the punishment death, what would it be like for Jesus, who is completely innocent, to exchange places with me?
That’s what He did. Why would He do that? How could He love me that much? It was my guilt, but He gave me His innocence. What was that like for Him? I know that Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” But it was the cross and it was mine. . .
I’m grateful that Paul prayed for us in Ephesians 3:17-19 “. . .And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you maybe filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
I need all the help I can get grasping that—even if it comes through imagining what someone’s story may have been like.