Another “Eastern Eye” Article
[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.” As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.]
Jesus Christ asked a very pointed question to those who had gone out into the wilderness to hear John the Baptist teach. He asked them what they went out to see, a “reed shaken in the wind?”
Our western minds really have no idea what Jesus was talking about. But once again, understanding the time and culture of the Bible sheds light on many verses.
The reeds Jesus spoke of were in the sugar cane family and grew wild. They were used often to make flutes. They would generally grow 4 to 5 feet tall. During the heat of the day, they would droop, with the tops falling all the way to the ground.
When the cool evening winds came, they would all rise back up again, straight and tall. The people thought this was a beautiful sight to see, and would often go out to watch them all rise again.
It Was A Straightforward Question
Jesus asked those who had gone out to see John the Baptist, “What did you go out to see? A reed shaken in the wind?” In other words, he was asking if they were paying attention to what John was saying, or were they distracted by the reeds?
Of course there was nothing wrong with watching the reeds. It was a beautiful sight to see. But for those who went out specifically to see John, Jesus wanted to know what they were focused on. Were they listening to what John had to say, or were they distracted?
There are many old churches around the world that are very beautiful. I’ve personally visited some of the most famous ones in Spain, Italy and Greece. There is much in those churches that could distract someone.
There are many modern churches that are beautiful too, with an abundance of stained glass, gorgeous woodwork, decorations, am impressive choir, and the list goes on and on. Again, there is plenty to distract.
What Is Most Important?
Wherever one goes to hear God’s Word, the beautiful decorations are not what’s most important. It is not how big the choir is. It is not even how many people attend. If God’s Word is being taught, then that is what is most important.
It is the message that we should be going to hear. Yes decoration and embellishments may be nice, but the Word of God can be taught without any of those things. You may remember that Jesus taught God’s Word to two men as they walked on the road to Emmaus.
The Bible doesn’t say, but maybe Jesus heard people who went to see John talking about how great the reeds were. I’ve heard many people over the years talk about how great the choir was in the church that they attended. I’ve heard others talk about how big and beautiful their church is, and how many people attend. It would seem that they ought to be talking about how great the message was, don’t you think?
Where do you go to hear the Word of God? If the Word of God is being taught, then focus on the message. The trappings may be nice, but it’s the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is most important.
As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
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There are a number of books that you can read to get insight on customs, manners, idioms and meanings from the Eastern culture in which the Bible was written. The best I know of were written by Bishop K. C. Pillai I have had the pleasure of listening to many recorded teaching by him.
He wrote three books, and they are hard to find, and are usually over priced. But, if you want to you can check this link to see what Amazon has to offer. Light Through an Eastern Window
Another great resource that I have used for years is a book called, “Manners and Customs of the Bible,” by James Freeman. Mine was printed in 1972 and I know they have newer additions. For the newest edition, just click the link and it will take you to Amazon. The New Manners and Customs of the Bible (Pure Gold Classics)
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