Week Seven: Studying the Bible through Reflective Writing

Jesus’ triumphant entry from a child’s perspective.

Welcome to Week Seven in How To Study the Bible series! (To begin the series click here.)

As you explore Mark 11, you will…
1) learn how to do reflective writing

2) learn how to use Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias and handbooks

3) observe Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem

Review of Week Six: How to do a Verse Study & Word Study

First, you learned how to use a concordance and lexicon to understand the original meaning of words and phrases in the Scripture. This allowed you to clarify meanings of words in Greek and in Hebrew.

Second, you learned that being a servant is foundational to the Christian life. With Jesus as our ultimate example, we strive to follow his lead.

How to do a Reflective Bible Study

Lord, thank you for your word and for your faithful servants who wrote it all down! Guide us now as we continue our journey to better understanding the life and times of these your servants…that we may better hear your voice and your will for our life today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Studying the Bible in a reflective way is seeking to put yourself into the story. Doing so slows us down to dwell in his word. Instead of breezing through the stories of Jesus’ life, we seek to place ourselves in the midst of the Bible times. We’ll better grasp the customs and the motives of the people.

1) Read the entire chapter for the passage you want to study.
2) Choose a person through whose eyes you will view the story.
3) Ask questions from his or her point of view.
4) Research answers to your questions.
5) Write a summary paragraph reflecting on the passage through his or her eyes including your new details. (Note: No one is grading your summary…just write!!)
6) Journal what you learned through this exercise. Be open to the Lord’s teaching as you ponder the truths in light of the customs and cultures in biblical times.

Strong word of caution: When writing your summary paragraph, enjoy immersing yourself in the Biblical culture. But do not change or add to the meaning of the passage! Creating dialogue and adding characters can bring us into the scene, but always be attentive to our own biases.

Asking Questions and Finding Answers

Bible handbooks offer vast amounts of information about the books of the Bible in one resource. Cultures and customs during Bible times, maps, archaeological notes, and historical details are condensed in these handy books.

Bible handbooks arrange articles, maps, and photos according to the order of the books of the Bible. So to find information on the book of Mark, you merely flipped to “Mark” and begin reading. Short articles fill the pages chapter by chapter, passage by passage. Sometimes, cross-references are included.

Numerous Bible handbooks exist in print; however, I could not find one online. It would be a great investment to purchase a handbook. Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Unger’s Bible Handbook, and Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook are among the most popular choices.

For our present online study…we’ll use a Bible encyclopedia and a Bible dictionary. Unlike the Bible handbooks, they list entries in alphabetical order. Several options exist online. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia and the numerous Bible dictionaries on the Bible Study Tools are great resources.

Another option is your online search engine. Merely type your questions into the search bar. Really. CAUTION: choose wisely before you click on a response! Articles, blogs, and rants will all show up in your search results. Find a trusted source; or, read several and consider what responses are most in line with the Scripture.

Let’s get to it…

Reflective Bible Study of Mark 11:1-11

1) Read Mark 11.

2) I want to learn more about this story from a young girl’s perspective. When I think of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, I think of our Palm Sunday celebrations in church. Children receive palm branches and wave them in the service. It’s a beautiful time of worship!

3) My questions:

  • Why the big celebration?
  • Why wave palm branches?
  • Why lay coats down on the road?
  • Why did the people all shout “Hosanna!
  • Why does Jesus ride a little colt if he is the new King?

4) Through the Bible dictionaries, encyclopedia, & handbooks, I learned:

  • The people had heard of and had seen Jesus’ miracles and teachings. They rejoiced and embraced him as their earthly Messiah. They tasted deliverance from the occupying Roman military and authorities. Finally .… they felt freedom was in their grasp!
  • Waving palm branches was a common part of celebrations in biblical times. They especially symbolized victory.
  • Hosanna” was an acclamation of praise by the children and crowd
  • Laying down cloaks was a common practice to honor for dignitaries and kings
  • King David sent his son, Solomon, to his coronation on a donkey (1 Kings 1:33)
  • Jesus’ entry on the donkey colt fulfilled the prophesy of Zechariah 9:9
  • Jesus embraced all the accolades of kingship on this day

5) From the perspective of a young girl:I ran and pushed through the people so I could get a look at the new King. Everyone was jumping up and down! I got stepped on lots.  My friend came with me. He was able to grab some palm branches as we ran through the market. The owner handed out branches to all who ran by. He shouted, “No more taxes! The King is here to free us!

“We found a spot to stand. THEN THERE HE WAS!! I joined the shouts “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” God has heard us! He sent the Messiah to rescue us! Even the men standing near me shouted…loudly. As Jesus came close, they took off their cloaks and spread them on the path. The new King is honored by his people.

“King Jesus rides on a colt. A young donkey. I actually expected him to be on a beautiful white horse. But the men near me nod with approval. They shout to each other that King Solomon came to his coronation on a donkey. It’s all good. Life will be very different now that the King has arrived to the Temple!

6) What I learned: The people of Israel desperately wanted to be free of Roman rule. On this Sunday in Jerusalem, they truly believed that King Jesus would deliver them from the physical occupation of their lands. Huge celebration ensued!! As the days of this final week proceeded, they came to realize that that was not Jesus’ plan. The Kingdom he came to usher in did not include the immediate removal of the Roman occupiers. Their disillusionment helps explain the vicious turn of emotions that led them to yell “Crucify him!” at the end of the week.

Understanding the life of Roman occupation and expectations of the Jewish nation helps me better grasp the motives and confusion of this final week of Jesus’ life. It makes me less judgmental of the Jerusalem residents with my 20/20 hindsight and my understanding of God’s plan for our redemption.

Your Turn

1) Choose one of the stories that Mark records in chapter 11..

2) Do your own reflective study on the story. Write a paragraph with your new insights and knowledge.

3) Please share what you learned and how it helps your understanding of this final week of Jesus’ physical life on earth. Add to the comments below or send me an email.

<<Week Six: How to do a Verse Study and a Word Study

Week Eight: How to do a Topical Bible Study in Mark 12>>

Posted by Sharon R. Hoover

Photo Credit: dtcchc via photopin cc


About Sharon R Hoover

Serving the church for over twenty years in discipleship and mission ministries, I've walked alongside many people travelling and exploring the journey of faith. Add in my own crazy path and I hope my writing will offer glimpses of life worth sharing.
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One Response to Week Seven: Studying the Bible through Reflective Writing

  1. Pingback: Finding and Understanding Words and Meanings « Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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