Step One for Easier Bible Reading: Focus on Jesus
By Becky Herrington
Unless you’re a new follower of Jesus, chances are high that you’ve heard his story in the New Testament a lot of times. So many times, in fact, that it might feel like you already know it and that there’s nothing new to learn. But WOW—when we really slow down and pay attention to what Jesus said and did (frequently showcased in red letters), the Bible comes alive, attracting us to Jesus like a magnet.
Here’s how you can pay attention to what Jesus said and did:
Step one: Open your Bible to the New Testament (toward the back of your Bible). These books include the accounts of when Jesus was here on earth, and what his closest followers believed about him, which is why they’re our focus.
Here are a few notes as you read. First, these chapters are actually pretty small, so don’t be intimidated. Also, what’s covered in one of them may also be covered in another, which seems redundant. They each have a unique perspective, though, so it’s good to read all of them.
Step two: With every passage you read, ask, “What does this say to me about who Jesus is?” and write down some notes to yourself in response.
Personally I've found it helpful to write my responses like I'm having a conversation with Jesus. For instance, from Colossians chapter three I might write:
- (v1) You raise us to new life with you.
- (v1) You sit in heaven in a place of honor at God's right hand.
- (v3) You've hidden our lives with you in God. You're a protector, a guardian.
- (v4) You're all that matters. Anything that isn't about you doesn't matter.
- (v11) You forgive us. You're forgiving in nature. You don't hold a grudge.
- (v15) You offer peace to rule our hearts. You don't offer strife or anxiety. You are the source of peace.
In the Jesus-Centered Bible there are also “reframing Jesus” sections that give you cultural context to what he said and did that can help open your mind a bit and bring his heart into today’s world.
Step three: Once you’ve made it through your reading, look back on your notes for all the things you learned about Jesus and ask, “How does this impact my life?”
The best thing about these steps is that you’ll never grow out of them. Each time you read something Jesus said or did, it’ll have new meaning for you based on what Jesus wants to teach you that day. When we read the Bible with Jesus at the center, we can’t help but find our hearts opening up to him as he changes us from the inside out.
Looking for more ideas? Listen to this podcast about reading the Bible with a filter.