How many times have you looked at a bible passage or story that you thought you knew inside out, back to front and upside down. And then BOOM! You see something you have never seen before. This occurrence is one of the things that I love about the scriptures, that is, they are ever giving God’s grace of new insights and observations, comfort, encouragement and challenges to us.
No doubt there are many reasons why God has passages keep unfolding to us, a few I could think of are:
We could not hold all the treasures of a text in our mind all at the same time
God knows where we are in our sanctification and spiritual life with him and he would know if we weren’t quite ready before this time to handle what a passage was asking of us.
He knows what we need and so he may highlight a part of a passage, so that we could see it as a treasure for a time in need.
In Johns Gospel we are told that “when he comes, the Spirit of truth, that he will lead us into all truth”, could it be that this unfolding nature of the scriptures is one of the ways how the Spirit leads us into all truth.
By speaking of the unfolding nature of a passage, it by no means undermines certain static meanings that are embedded in the text. Where the original context and authors intent guide the meaning. Yet, in this unfolding nature of the word, God helps us see something new that was always true, but we just didn’t have the eyes to see it on our first, second or tenth pass over the passage.
This week there were over 50 people from our diocese attending the Paula Gooder session on Parables held at the Cathedral. And it was a great time hearing a master communicator talk about some of our well known and loved treasures of scripture. The image that stood out to me and made me ponder a lot was from the Parable of the mustard seed in Luke. Where Jesus said the Kingdom of God was like the farmer who chose to plant a mustard seed in his field and the tree grows and birds of the air find shelter. What I discovered in a new way is, this parable is bizarre and not expected. For, what farmer would plant a tree that grows big and spreads wide and drops self-propagating seeds into a workable crop paddock? What farmer would want birds to shelter right where the grain or crop is growing? It’s seems like madness, on the face value of the story. And yet, Jesus said, this is what the Kingdom of God is like. I had never before pondered this irony or bizarreness of the farmer planting that tree in the field, though it was always there in the passage for me to find. It’s got me thinking and praying.
So, friends, as we come to our hearing and pondering of the sacred holy scriptures, may we continue to come with a sense of excitement and openness as to what new discoveries God through the Spirit will graciously reveal to us each day.