Tag Archives: Bible Study

I Must See Jesus!

I was reminded today about two men in the Bible that did whatever they must in order to see Jesus. One was a blind man who lived in Jericho. A crowd had apparently gathered and was walking to get a glimpse of Jesus. Noting the commotion, blind Bartimaeus asked who it was that was coming. Notice how the people spoke of Jesus: “They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,'” (Luke 18:37, ESV). Thrilled to hear the news that Jesus was coming, Bartimaeus could not compose himself. He must see Jesus! Notice how Bartimaeus spoke of Jesus, “And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,'” (Luke 18:38, ESV)! To the crowd, Jesus was “of Nazareth,” but to Bartimaeus, Jesus was the “Son of David,” the Messiah that everyone had hoped for.

When everyone sought to shut him up, he would not be silent. He must see Jesus! “But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me,'” (Luke 18:39b, ESV)! Jesus stopped and had mercy upon poor, blind Bartimaeus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God, (Luke 18:41-43, ESV).

No amount of shushing would keep this blind man from seeking what he longed for. He must see Jesus! If you haven’t noticed, the word “see” is intentional. In such a way, this story reminds me of Fanny Crosby, the great 20th century hymn-writer. Fanny Crosby went blind just a few weeks after being born. The story is told about a conversation a preacher had upon visiting Ms. Crosby.

“I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you,” remarked one well-meaning preacher.

Fanny Crosby responded at once, as she had heard such comments before. “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind?” said the poet, who had been able to see only for her first six weeks of life. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.” (Christianity Today, emphasis mine)

But there was another man who must see Jesus in Luke’s text. This man is even more famous than blind Bartimaeus. Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he. He too had heard that Jesus was in Jericho, and something welled up within him a desire to see Jesus. He must see Jesus! But he was short. Too short to see over the crowd that had gathered. Being a tax-collector probably made it even harder on him to scoot through the crowd. Why would a respectable citizen give way for the rift-raft? “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way,” (Luke 19:4, ESV).

Whatever it took he would see Jesus. A grown man acting like a child, hiking up his robe, he ran and climbed a tree to see Jesus. Who cares if he looked ridiculous? He must see Jesus! “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully,” (Luke 19:5-6, ESV).

Two men: one blind, one a “sinner”–both must see Jesus. Because they sought him out– even at the expense of themselves: their dignity, their self-respect, their reputation (grant it Zacchaeus probably did not have a good reputation)–the saw Jesus! They not only saw Jesus, they experienced Jesus’s life-changing power. Jesus healed Bartimaeus of his blindness and Zacchaeus of his greed. Both of their lives were instantly transformed.

That being said. . . do we believe that we must see Jesus? Are we willing to do whatever it takes to see Him? What are we willing to lay down, sacrifice for the opportunity to see Jesus? To the believer, we will ultimately see Him one day face to face. But what about now? We may not see Him face to face, but we can still experience that life-changing power when we seek him with all our hearts.  While the verse was written to exiled Israel, I think we can still apply it to our lives: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV). That’s what we see with blind Bartimaeus: “And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,'” (Luke 18:38, ESV)! It is what we saw with Zacchaeus: “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way,” (Luke 19:4, ESV). Most Christians want to see Jesus, but they do not believe that they must see Jesus. It is not urgent to them and so they do not act in urgency. If we get around to Bible reading, study, and meditation, then great. If not, oh well. If we can squeeze in a few moments for prayer, we’ll be better off probably, but if not, so be it. We allow the shushing of our schedules and daily grind and emotions and busyness to keep us from crying out. We do not run to the Word and climb the tree of contemplation seeking the Lord Jesus. We do not cry out in our prayers, “Jesus, Son of David!” with much urgency or faith that He will hear. If we kind of would like to see Jesus if it isn’t too much trouble, we might not ever get the opportunity. But if we must see Jesus and put such a must into action, we will see Him as He comes upon the way. He will come, but we must keep seeking until He does. It will be a different sight than Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus saw, but we will see Him nonetheless.

’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when our hearts lowly bend,
And we gather to Jesus, our Savior and Friend;
If we come to Him in faith, His protection to share,
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there!

’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when the Savior draws near,
With a tender compassion His children to hear;
When He tells us we may cast at His feet every care,
What a balm for the weary, O how sweet to be there! (Chorus)

’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when the tempted and tried
To the Savior Who loves them their sorrow confide;
With a sympathizing heart He removes every care;
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there! (Chorus)

At the blessed hour of prayer, trusting Him we believe
That the blessing we’re needing we’ll surely receive;
In the fullness of this trust we shall lose every care;
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there!

Blessed hour of prayer,
Blessed hour of prayer:
What a balm for the weary!
O how sweet to be there!

~Fanny Crosby

I must see Jesus!

Don’t Read Your Bible Through This Year (Do This Instead)

I am not a big fan of reading the Bible through in a year. I’m not exactly sure when or why this has become so popular, but it seems a bit too pretentious to me. I’m not saying everyone who reads their Bible in a year is being pretentious; I’m simply saying that I don’t see the logic behind it other than to say one has done it. I’m going to explain why in a moment and then afterward, I will give what I believe to be a better alternative.

So why do I believe there is no logic behind this? For these 6 reasons:

  1. Reading the Bible through in a year does not guarantee godliness. I once knew a man who bragged that he read the Bible all the way through for 30 years. Yet, he was one of the most arrogant, self-absorbed, mean-spirited men I have ever met. It literally left me wondering how one could read God’s Word for 30 years in a row and never be affected by it.
  2. Reading the Bible through in a year does not mean one is godly. This is similar to the previous reason, but a bit different. Christians, old and new, sometimes look at those who read the Bible through in a year as if they are “super-Christians.” Reading the Bible in a year doesn’t mean that at all; it may simply mean that they are super-organized. Remember what James wrote, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only;” we could say “Be doers of the Word and not readers only.”  It is the doing, not simply the reading that matters.
  3. Reading the Bible through in a year is time-consuming. Let’s be honest; it is. For slow readers like myself to read the Bible through in a year would take about 50-60 minutes. Is God worth it? Absolutely, but my next point explains further why I put this one here.
  4. Reading the Bible through in a year makes it difficult to meditate. Related to the previous point, I find that in order to think thoroughly about what I read, I can’t read as much. But in order to get through the Bible in a single year means I can’t think as deeply as I believe I should or meditate as long as I want because I do not have all day to read through my plan.
  5. Reading the Bible through in a year can be defeating and guilt-ridding. If a person gets behind in their reading plan by even a day or two, it can seem like an impossible task to catch up. Suddenly one can feel guilty about missing a day or one can give up rather than trying to catch up.
  6. Reading the Bible through in a year is a tradition of man. This may be the weakest of my arguments; I almost feel like it is, but I know that it is still true. No where do we read anyone in Scripture describe or prescribe the yearly read-through of God’s Holy Word. That means that no one should make another feel like less of a Christian or not as holy as those who do read the Bible through in a year. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ,” (Colossians 2:8, ESV).

That being said… I decided a few years ago to stop trying and failing to read the Bible through in a year. I’ve done it before, but I got little out of it.  Instead, I have developped my method that I continue through to this year. I pick out a section of the Bible and study it. One year I studied the Minor Prophets. I was amazed at what I learned. Hosea came more alive to me than ever before. Jonah stunned me. Haggai (yes! Haggai) was so relevant to Christians today. Last year I went through all the books of John (the Gospel, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Revelation). This year I am going through the short letters of Paul (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st & 2nd Thessalonians, 1st &2nd Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). I am taking one week to study the background to the writing, and then 5 days of the week to study each chapter. The fifth day, I read the entire chapter through and seek to apply it to my life personally. This does take time. Each day is about a 30 minute study (with the possible exception of reading the background). After this time, I spend a equal amount of time in prayer.

Much of the Old Testament can be spent this way. Genesis is 50 chapters long, that’s about one chapter a week. Joshua and Judges combine to make 45 chapters. Ezekiel is 48 chapters. You could even take Matthew (28 chapters) and Luke (24 chapters) making 52 chapters. If we took and combined books so that we slowly go through and study, not just read, a chapter a week, seeking to apply it to our daily lives (thus meditating upon what we’ve studied), I believe we will come out the better than simply reading through in a year.

Let me know your thoughts, though. You may absolutely disagree with me and that is absolutely fine. Let me know why. I’d love some feedback. Feel free to share and like this article on your social media feed. I would much appreciate it.