Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Danger of Chapter Breaks

More than once I’ve been amazed at how I miss context by stopping at a chapter break. Here is one for you:

John 13:38: Jesus answered, Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.

Then the chapter ends. Of course the original New Testament did not have chapter breaks, no chapters, no verses – those came centuries later. While chapters and verses have their place in that they give us a system of coordinates to refer to, I’m not sure that they haven’t done more harm than good. Perhaps better to have numbered paragraphs or lines or sentences? Or maybe perhaps better not to have any system of coordinates – that might make us actually learn the Scriptures.

John 14:1: Do not let your heat be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so I would have told you…

Notice that John 14:1 does not begin with, “Jesus said”. This is a continuation of John 13:38, “Jesus answered…”

Here Peter is hearing about his impending denial, and others are hearing that one of the leading apostles is going to deny Jesus – no matter what their bravado might have been, the words of Jesus must have been disconcerting to Peter and his fellow apostles. But Jesus doesn’t stop with John 13:38, Jesus doesn’t know about the chapter break, Jesus continues: Do not let your heart be troubled…

Whatever our failings in the moment, those whom the Father has drawn to Jesus will remain in Jesus; whether we stumble and fall or worse, yes, even should we in our fear deny Him as He stands before a kangaroo court – He is going to prepare a place for us and He will come again and live in us, and we will live in Him. In the darkness of denial Jesus says: Do not let your heart be troubled.

When we come to a chapter break in Scripture, before we stop at the break, let’s do our best to ensure that we aren’t stopping too soon; let not a chapter break constitute a break in our understanding.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! That's really helpful for my preparation on John 18:12-27!