There are a couple Bible Study questions that annoy me.
I understand the gist of both questions, I will even grant that they are appropriate questions to ask from time to time, but I believe they can both damage your understanding of the Bible if pressed too far.
So, let me rephrasingly repeat what I said there–each question has a place, it’s just not every place.
Here are the five questions, er two questions:
1) What does this passage mean to you?
The cynical response to this question is “It doesn’t matter what it means to you.” But, again, sometimes it does.
Everyone, at one point, has to take a meaning out of what they read. It’s impossible for us not to find meaning in what we read. Otherwise words on a piece of paper would be chicken scratch.
However, in the end, your theory about what a verse means may not be the end-all of biblical meaning.
That is the key problem with the question–what it means to you better be what it meant to the writer.
However, here we go again. How do we know what it meant to the writer? What do I think the writer meant? Isn’t far away from the initial question!
This is where context fits in. You have to follow the flow of the particular book you are reading (Romans, Psalms, Esther, etc) and also in the larger context of the Book (the Bible).
This takes work. More than likely way more work than it took to read the passage and them dreamily pontificate about what it means to you.
2) Where is Jesus in this passage?
There is a theory of Bible reading that posits that Christ shows up in every passage of Scripture.
Again, I get the point and would mostly agree. I’m all for people seeing the unity of Scripture in Christ.
What I fear happens, however, is that people who have no conception of who Christ is, just make stuff up about Christ, some of which borders on blasphemy. But they happily go away thinking that their theory about the butt-end of spear piercing through guys chasing you means that Jesus was never in a hurry, or whatever.
Yes, Jesus is seen throughout Scripture, but quite possibly not where you see Him! There are whole chapters of the OT that have nothing to do with Christ, no matter how much you want to believe Christ is in every chapter.