HUNGRY TO HEAR

Luke 5:1 tells us of a time in Jesus’ life when He was at the seaside in Capernaum. Gobs of people were pressing upon Him. The word press means  to crowd. When people saw Jesus at the seaside a whole mess of them converged on the spot. They kept coming from all over the city. And as people kept coming, Jesus kept getting pushed to the water’s edge. Finally, Jesus got in Peter’s boat and, after paddling out a little way, Jesus taught the people from the boat. Can you imagine the scene? Get the picture. Gobs and gobs of people converging on Jesus with very little elbow room. Doubtless, the people were crammed like sardines around Jesus.

What were they there for? Why did they come? Luke tells us that they came to hear the word of God. They came because they were hungry to hear God’s Word. They didn’t come for miracles. They came for a sermon! They came to hear and learn what God had to say to them. They had a hunger for the Word. A hunger for the truth. A hunger to learn.

Spiritual hunger is something that is largely lacking or missing in the church today. It’s reflected in the attendance at our adult Sunday School classes, our Sunday evening services, our Wednesday night Bible studies, our small group meetings, or our Bible study groups. It’s like a lot of us don’t want to hear, study or learn. We don’t want to take the time to listen, think, or learn. We despise Bible study. We hate it. We don’t do it. A lot of us aren’t as scholastically-inclined as others. We’re not students. We don’t like learning. Bible study is boring. We don’t get anything out of it. It isn’t fun. But, truth be told, we really don’t have a hunger to hear. We don’t have an appetite for God or the Scriptures. How these Capernaumites in Luke 5 shame us!

I’m a minister and I love to teach the Bible. Whenever I teach, I tend to get animated. I try to bring the congregation into the historical scene so that they’re right in the middle of what went on in the Biblical text. The Scriptures come alive. And, all of a sudden, the people like the Bible lesson or study. They’re on the edge of their seats. They want more. It gets to them. And they go home remembering the lesson for a long time…because they feel as if they were there in the Biblical scene.

Bible study can be that way. It’s not just an educational routine where you sit down, open the Bible, and read mindlessly until you’ve read enough to satisfy your guilty conscience, then you close the book and give no further thought to what you read. If you view Bible study this way, then it’s no wonder you don’t enjoy it or get anything out of it.

Let’s change things a bit. Bible study is, first and foremost, a personal relationship with God. It’s an interactive type of thing. In school you have a teacher and a classroom, with lots of other students around. Let’s cut the other students out. Now it’s just you and the teacher in class. Whenever you read your Bible, that’s your classroom. The teacher is the invisible God. God is standing over you, or sitting beside you. And, as your Teacher, He’s teaching you something. He’s speaking to you through the written text. And the Holy Spirit helps you understand what you’re reading. If you see Bible study in this interactive way—just you and God together, all alone in this classroom—you’ll get a different perspective of what Bible study is all about. It’s all about giving God the time and opportunity to speak to you through His Word and teach you a few things.

Like the Capernaumites, are you pressing about Jesus in the classroom, hungry and eager to hear? If not, ask God to give you a hunger for His Word. You ought to have a hunger for God and His Word. If you aren’t hungry you don’t eat. And if you don’t eat over time, you know what will happen to you. It’s the same way with your soul. If you don’t feed your soul with the milk and meat of God’s Word, you’ll famish and die spiritually. It isn’t normal, or right, for a Christian not to have an appetite for God and the Bible! If this is you, then ask God to make you hungry. Ask Him to give you an appetite for learning. Ask Him to change your attitude about Bible study. He will.

Then every time you open the Bible to read and study it, ask God to make the Word come alive. Ask Him to show you what it means. What He wants you to know. He will. When the townspeople pressed about Jesus to hear God’s Word, what did Jesus do? He taught them. He satisfied their craving or hunger. God will do the same for you. When you ask God to help you learn, He’ll teach you and you’ll get something out of it.

There are so many different approaches or tools to learn God’s Word. Dictionaries and commentaries are one such tool. Here’s another simple tool that doesn’t cost you a dime. Place yourself in the Biblical text or scene. Step into the sandals of the Biblical characters. They were human just like you. If you put yourself in the Biblical scene you’ll get so much more out of the Bible study. Try it. And the more you try it the more you’ll learn. And the more you’ll have an even bigger appetite for God and learning. May God bless you with a hefty appetite for Him and His Word!

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