Walking, Not Driving

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This weeks’ devotional was written by Mark Hathaway.

Don’t just read, study

I don’t know about you, but for me it seems I have an overabundance of distractions vying for my time. I have to fight for time to study, I mean really study, not just read, the Bible. But when I’m successful, when I’ve spent quality time studying, I always come away truly enriched by my encounter with the word of God.

I’ve been studying John chapter eight, and though I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing with you what I’ve been learning.

John 8:1 “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.”

After reading chapter 8 several times I sat down to make as many observations as I could, trying to discover what the passage says. Let’s do it together. Read the chapter at least three times.

Go ahead I’ll wait…

Ok ready? let’s begin.

But? But What?

The first thing I notice is the very first word at the top of the chapter. That little three letter word “but” demands our attention. It’s a conjunction (or connecting word) that demonstrates a contrast. This little word is contrasting “…Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” with some other event. So we keep working backwards, looking at previous verses, until we find the event being contrasted. We find the answer just one verse back. John 7:53 says, “And everyone went to his own house.” So, putting the two verses together we see that, “everyone went to their own house, but Jesus went to the mount of Olives.”

 So now it seems we are being pulled backwards in the text instead of moving forward. We’ve answered the question “what does the word but contrast in John 8:1”. However, the answer found in John 7:53 introduces more questions.

Questions like: “Who is everyone? Where were they?

 To do a thorough study, we would want to ask the question, “what is the conjunction ‘and’ connecting at the beginning of verse 53?”

I hope you will take the time to read the previous verses, make observations, ask questions, and search for the answers. What you discover will have an impact on your understanding of chapter 8.

 The Mount of Olives

The group “everyone” went home, signaling that whatever was going on had come to a close. We can reasonably conclude that the day itself was coming to an end, because they went home. But Jesus was already moving on to His next task. Here we hit our next observational question. Why did Jesus go to the Mount of Olives? Some pretty significant Old Testament and New Testament events occurred on the Mount of Olives. Jesus didn’t go home, He didn’t have a home. He retired instead to the Mount of Olives.

Pastor Terry Kern has been to Israel at least a few times. Here’s what he wrote to me concerning the mount of Olives as referenced in this passage.

“The Mount of Olives is across the Kidron Valley to the East from Temple Mount.  The Garden of Gethsemane is on the western slope of the Mount of Olives and that is where Jesus and His Disciples would often spend the night.  So Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to spend the night – almost certainly in the Garden of Gethsemane and He early in the morning He arose – probably at the dawn – and walked across the Kidron Valley and “came again” to the Temple.  The Temple stood “opposite” the Mount of Olives not ON the Mount of Olives.  The Garden of Gethsemane on the lower side of the western slope of the Mount of Olives and is likely 2 miles from Temple Mount or so.  It would be something like standing on the bank of the Bismarck side of the Missouri River looking across to the Mandan Refinery – probably about the same distance or something similar.”

Coming Next

In the next few verses we learn that Jesus went into the temple, the people came to Him, and he began to teach them. He was interrupted by a group of Scribes and Pharisees dragging a woman caught in adultery to Him. Is there more we can glean? Isn’t it enough to notice the events that occurred? In the next article we’ll take a closer look and find out.

Take a Walk

Maybe you’ve had the experience of driving the same stretch of road over and over again.  You are sure you really know that section well, then you walk a portion of it. You are surprised by what you notice that you’ve never seen while driving, or even as a passenger for that matter. Maybe there’s a bit of grade to the street. You never noticed the cracks in the retaining wall hastily filled in with a darker color of caulk. Wow, there’s a little patch of lilies next to the blue house! This is most certainly the difference between reading a passage of scripture and studying that same passage. No matter how familiar with it you are, no matter how many times you read it, there are so many more significant details. Those details are just waiting for you to observe while you study the passage. You’ll be amazed at how much more of the scripture you will understand if you take the time to study it.


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