I have been reading comic books since the 1960’s. In some ways my science classes could have been more interesting if we discussed, “Is Spider-Man’s web really strong enough to support him as he swings from building to building?” Or “how does Batman accomplish so much on only 4 hours of sleep, with no apparent use of 5 hour energy drinks?”
I remember asking my physics professor why Superman’s home planet of Krypton exploded? By working backward from the force necessary to leap a building on earth, he tried to calculate Krypton’s gravity. He then suggested that Krypton had an unusually dense and unstable core of material that ultimately exploded. I recall it appeared to be an imminent and inevitable collapse.
Spidey’s question is a bit easier since his creator’s (Marvel’s Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) described the webbing as having the tensile strength of steel, so it could easily support far more than the young superhero’s weight. But what gave it the sticking power after being shot so far and often? Did Spidey actually patent his invention before Post-It and Velcro were discovered?
To a lot of us, physics can seem difficult, technical, even boring and unnecessary. Yet the Bible itself can strike some people in the same manner. Many of its stories, accounts, and narratives create images in our minds of people long, long ago, in beards and bathrobes far, far away, who have little in common with our world today. Often a little sanctified imagination can make the Scriptures come alive with punch and pageantry.
Read John 11:17-44.
As you read the story of Lazarus, try to imagine the setting and feelings of the people involved. Have you lost a family member or close friend because help could not arrive in time? Why did Mary and Martha react the way they did to Jesus coming along after their brother died? Four days after the funeral and burial, was anyone expecting a dead man to come back to life?
How would you have reacted if you had seen what is described in John 11:38-44? If you had stood at the grave of Lazarus, what would you have seen, heard, touched, smelled, and thought? What would your best friend have said after hearing your account of being an eyewitness?
One challenge to each of us who live in the 21st century is to let the Bible stand and speak on its own terms. The authors of the 66 books wrote to a particular people in a time and context unlike our own. Part of our task is to discover the author’s original intent and reason for writing, as well as understand the type of genre the author is using. Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth and How to Read the Bible Book by Book will be of great help here.
But make no mistake: the goal is not to read things into the Bible that aren’t there, but to understand and experience everything in the text. Far from being technical and remote, the Scriptures are filled with truths that can transform our lives today.
Each time you read Scripture, begin with a prayer that the Holy Spirit will bring it alive in ways you have never seen or heard before. Then prepare to be amazed and changed by God. Consider reading the Bible aloud for the next week and see how it changes your experience of His Story. Grow devotionally. Dig deep into the treasures of God’s Word.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz