Stop and ask questions


When lost, it might be embarrassing to stop to ask for directions.  However, when reading the Bible, John Piper suggests that we SHOULD stop and ask questions about the text. Here is a quote from the introduction of  a sermon, “The Baptism and the Genealogy of Jesus”:

You can learn more from a book if you stop and ask it questions than if you just read it passively. That includes the Bible too. One of the great problems in Bible reading is that we move our eyes over the words and come to the end of a column and don’t know what we’ve read; we don’t feel our minds or spirits expanded because we saw nothing fresh. It was purely mechanical. There was no discovery, no life, no breakthroughs to new insight. One of the best ways to change that is to train yourself to ask questions of the text. Often the posing of the question itself will already carry its answer with it and will open your mind to new things. This fairly prosaic, historical text in Luke 3:21–38 gives me an opportunity to show you what I mean. I’ll simply take you with me through this text, pointing out the questions I asked and the answers I came up with. My guess is that as you follow me, questions of your own will arise. Good questions usually beget other questions, and that’s how insight grows and grows.

Here’s one of the questions Piper asks and then answers:

Why did Luke insert the genealogy here between the baptism and temptation of Jesus, which Matthew and Mark put together? I find the key in the surprising ending of the genealogy: Luke doesn’t stop with Adam but says Adam was “son of God.” I doubt that Luke wants us to think of Jesus as the Son of God in the same sense that Abraham and David and all the other descendants of Adam were. Luke 1:35 shows that his sonship depends on his unique creation in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit. So it has seemed to many commentators that the reason Adam is called the son of God is to establish a comparison between Adam and Jesus as uniquely and immediately, though not identically, created by God. This then calls to mind Paul’s teaching that Christ is a second Adam, the beginner of a new humanity. In 1 Corinthians 15:47–49 Paul says, “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” There is no reason to think Luke was ignorant of this idea since he was with Paul as much as anyone. If this was before his mind, then one reason he inserted the genealogy here was to stress that like Adam Jesus was man and was uniquely created by God, and that, therefore, he is a new and second Adam whose ministry will be to create and assemble a new race of humans who are not marked by Jewishness or non-Jewishness, but by the dove-like character of the Holy Spirit.

To read the rest of the questions and answers Piper discusses in the sermon, click here:

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