Reading the Bible for the first time
Where to start if you've never opened God's Word before.
If you’re new to reading the Bible or investigating the life and teaching of Jesus, then the book of Mark is a great place to start. It’s the shortest of the 'gospels' (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), and Mark wanted it to be an action-packed biography of Jesus that made sense to people who didn’t have a background in Jewish customs and culture.
Why should I trust Mark?
Lots of people have different ideas and opinions about Jesus, but it’s important to trust the account given to us by people who know what they’re talking about. This guy Mark tagged along on many of the early missionary journeys with the head honchos of early Christianity: the Apostles Paul and Peter. That means Mark was able to write down stories from Peter’s viewpoint, almost like his scribe. Since Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, Mark is relying on eyewitness details to write his book. There’s no one alive today, 2000 years later, that could possibly be in a better position to inform us about Jesus than one of his own disciples who was actually there to see it all happen!
How should I read it?
The most important thing is your attitude – keep in mind God has chosen the Bible to be the way he speaks to us. Humility, thankfulness, eagerness and excitement should all be in our hearts, because God himself is telling us about His Son, Jesus. Start by praying and asking God to help you understand what you read and know what to do about it afterwards.
Go grab a copy of the Bible or New Testament and turn to Mark. If you don’t have your own Bible, you can read it online here. You don't have to read the whole thing at once (even though that can be great. You can simply start with just a few minutes each day, so you can really soak up everything you are reading.
But as you go, you might find it helpful to ask questions like these, and write down your thoughts somewhere.
- What stands out to me? What do I find confusing? What do I find interesting?
- What on earth does that word mean?
- I’ve seen that word or phrase a lot, what’s the big deal?
- How could I summarise that paragraph or chapter? What’s the big idea here?
- What’s new to me? What have I heard before that is similar?
- What am I learning about Jesus? How is it different to what I thought?
- What might God want me to know? What might God want me to do?
Get started and get help
You don't have to ask all of those questions, but as you write things down it can help keep you focused. It also means you can come back to your questions later without having to stop. And if you have questions that you want answered, you can ask your youth leader or another trusted Christian. You might find another method that works for you (check out 'related articles' to the right/below for more ideas) but the main point is simply to start reading it. Go for it!