Thursday, November 14, 2013

Context is King

Part of what we are trying to do in family circle is teach the children Bible study tools. We want them to know how to look for answers to their questions and how to mine the treasures of the Word for themselves. 

As we've worked through the I Am Sayings of Jesus in John we've stressed context/background. What was happening before the verse we're studying? What happened after the verse? Was there something  in the culture to make the illustration meaningful? How did the audience respond? Who was the audience? Why did Jesus choose this illustration? (Many questions of interpretation and application follow but this is a post on context.)  We noted there is a miracle/sign before each new message/revelation.  We've studied, "I Am". We've studied, "I Am the Bread of Life." We are working on, "I Am the Light of the World."  We've had a lot of fun skirting John 8:12 with an activity Tuesday night and a wonderful illustration from Michael about WW2 and his Dad's time in the Marines. Tonight we were going to develop context. I started by reminding them context rules...context is king. 

I asked, "Who can tell me what context means? It's two Latin words and when you put them together you get the word's  meaning." 

STACIA jumped in. YES - our EIGHT year old is learning Bible study tools! I was happy she remembered past conversations though I realized we hadn't clearly defined the meaning of context. 

"It means texting with contact." ::snort:: 
photo credit: moriza via photopin cc
We backed up. We talked about Chili CON carne - chili WITH meat. 

They hit upon "with the text" -  an easy working definition. I gave an example from life and one from the Bible where meaning/interpretation is obscure without context.  They got it - even our eight year old. ::grin:: 

By the way - check out the first time in John that Jesus reveals himself as the Light of the World. I thought it would be after a healing.....I discovered Jesus repeats the claim of being the Light of the World in John 9 after healing a blind man....but chapter 8 is the first revelation of being the Light we see in the book of John.

Check out the context. It was the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacle). Part of the feast was the nightly lighting of two GIANT lamp stands which were in the Women's Court of the temple. Several commentators mention, as the temple was on a hill, the light could be seen throughout the city. During the feast of the booths people slept in tent-like booths on their roofs. They remembered God leading them through the wilderness as a light - a pillar of light. Nightly they saw two giant pillars lighten the darkness from the temple mount.  During THIS festival Jesus was teaching in the woman's court (Read 8:1-11 and you'll see how I reached that conclusion) where there would have been two giant  lamp stands. Read the unexpected sign. I'd never made the connection. 
photo credit: Fr. Stephen, MSC via photopin cc

Into this scene the Pharisees bring a woman caught in the "very act of adultery." I've heard this preached about but no one ever read verse 12. You know the subtleties.  The Woman's Court is to be a place of mercy and worship - but they've brought this woman to the temple to find condemnation. Jesus instructs the one without sin to cast the first stone. No one can. They leave. He looks at her and tells her to go and sin no more and then he looks at the gathered crowd and says, "I am the Light of the World. He who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life." 

WOW - context! She found mercy. She found forgiveness. Not ONE of those who accused her, not one of us, could cast the first stone. We all WALK in darkness until we FOLLOW Jesus. He is the light who dispels the moral darkness and sin in our lives. 

Anyway - I am excited about the context of this verse and excited to see the kids grasp this Bible study element.  Tonight we'll look at the miracle of a physical healing and Jesus' repeated claim to be the Light of the World. 

Another night we'll consider how Jesus says WE are to be the lights of this world and what that means....and then we'll move on.....

As I end this I think it's "nearly profound." I was sharing with someone this week I used to try to be profound on the blog and nearly quit writing...then Michael asked me to focus on a family journal. Now I'm profound about once a year.....this is nearly profound. ::snort:: 

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

1 comment:

Laura said...

Definitely profound, De'Etta. Thanks for sharing!