Do you find it hard to understand the Bible?
Does it feel old and unrelatable?
Or out of context and alien?
Do you feel lost in the Historical and Geographical details?
You are not alone.
Very often in the Gospels, the disciples were found to be in the same boat.
But, this is what I consider an even important question:
Do you want to understand it?
Because “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desire.
Here are some ways you can:
Remember the Walk to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-35) Here were Jesus’ disciples who were returning after His resurrection, disappointed and confused. In spite of everything Jesus had told them, they could not understand that what had happened was necessary for the fulfillment of scripture. Ain’t we a lot like them. What is to notice is Jesus’ response. He meets them and journeys with them all the way home. Explaining and opening their eyes and minds, revealing and unfolding the mysteries they witnessed but could not comprehend.
Has Jesus changed? He still wishes for us to understand scripture today, as much as he desired for his disciples to understand it 2000 years ago.
All you need to do is ask. Always say a little prayer before you begin and slowly, yet surely you will begin to see. Jesus will explain it to you. Because, what you are asking for, is what He wants too.
2. BE CONSISTENT
Have you noticed how some things we read edify us rather than others. Where would you place God’s word? Isaiah 55:11 says,” so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I intend, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Every time you read scripture, it is doing something within you. Maybe it is clearing the clutter, till you are able to get clarity. This may take time, but giving up will not help accomplish it. So stick with it.
3. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU DO UNDERSTAND
It’s true that some parts of the Bible are not easy to understand. Because we need to understand the context in which it is said along with the audience. So focus on what you do understand and let it become part of you. When you come across something queasy, you’ll be able to look at it from what you already know and believe and it might get a little less murky.
When you do feel stuck, note it down. I have often noticed that as I continue to read and focus on what does make sense, what has not also slowly starts to make sense. Or I will hear it being explained during mass at some later time or someone referring to it in another conversation. I would have forgotten about it but when it is explained I remember that I had not understood it earlier and I like to believe that God noticed and wanted me to understand.
4. ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT
Throughout the book of Acts we see how the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the believers to understand scripture. Read Acts 18:24 to Acts 19:6.
We also see how as the people heard the preaching of the Apostles, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and believed. We received the Holy Spirit at our baptism. Ask Him to explain God’s word to you and He will. Because ultimately what we want from the Bible is not knowledge or information but an illumination of heart and mind that transforms us.
5. USE RESOURCES
Remember the Ethiopian eunuch (Read Acts 8:26-40) who couldn’t understand the Book of Isaiah and was baptized immediately after Philip explained it to him. We need others to teach scriptures. Getting yourself a Bible with commentary is a first step. I personally love The Didache Bible and have heard great reviews of The community Bible. Refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, read how the saints have understood it before us, ask a priest. Now more than ever we have access to people and institutes. It is important to find authentic resources to help us in our journey. This often makes it a lot easier. Keep your eyes and ears open and stay teachable.
Get a simple Bible reading guide here to get you started.