Most people, to varying degrees, will struggle to understand the Bible. Even with 2,000 years of church history, there are still many Bible verses and passages that Bible scholars speculate about the correct meaning. Trying to understand scripture can be a complicated task, but it is possible with God’s help. The Bible tells us, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We know that the same God who “breathed out” scripture is the same God who dwells in us from this passage. This opens your mind to truth and understanding God’s Word if you put your complete trust in Him. Here are four perplexing Bible verses and why they are important.
Jesus exorcises legion.
The exorcisms in biblical times are different from the exorcisms we see depicted in popular culture. Mark 5:1-20 addresses Jesus exorcising legion, a demon-possessed man. When Jesus confronts the man and asks him to reveal his identity, he responds, “Legion…for we are many.” The demons that possessed this man were strong, overtaking him with Hulk-like force. Jesus commanded the demons to remove themselves from him, but they pleaded, asking not to be tormented. The demons asked for the option to enter the bodies of 2,000 pigs that were feeding nearby. Jesus honored this request. Once he exorcised the man, the demons ran into their destruction. This story from Mark is a powerful display of the conflict between the powers of heaven and hell. This passage reveals God’s supreme dominion over the forces of evil.
A man with dropsy is healed on the Sabbath.
Luke 14:1-6 is a passage that describes a miracle performed by Jesus on the Sabbath. The story is about the healing of a man who suffers from a condition called dropsy which causes great swellings in the body. Jesus is eating in the house of a prominent Pharisee and sees the man suffering from this debilitating disease. Jesus asks the Pharisees, who were experts of the law, if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. The Pharisees said nothing. Jesus takes hold of the man and heals him. After Jesus sends the man away, he asks the Pharisees, if one of them had a child or an ox that on the Sabbath day fell into a well, would they you not immediately pull them out? The Pharisees still say nothing. The gospels record several incidents when Jesus performs a healing on the Sabbath day. On most of these occasions, the healing is followed by a confrontation with the religious leaders.
It should be noted that Jesus is not violating the law of God when He heals on the Sabbath. He is only acting against the Pharisaical interpretation of the law and their rules. Jesus healed on the Sabbath because these people needed His help. There is no calendar for need. Ultimately, Jesus healed on the Sabbath to reveal the hypocrisy of the Pharisees’ religion. The Pharisees' stubbornness reminds us that we need to examine our beliefs to ensure they are in line with God’s Word.
Jesus withers the fig tree.
Matthew 21:18-20 says, “Early in the morning, as Jesus was on His way back to the city, He was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. ‘How did the fig tree wither so quickly?’ they asked.” In this passage, Jesus curses a fig tree, and it withers. This is a miracle He performs following His entry into Jerusalem only days before His death and resurrection. Ultimately, this symbolizes the coming judgment on the nation of Israel. Up until this point, they refuse to accept His message. They would soon wither under the control of the Roman Empire.
Jesus uses a coin from the mouth of a fish to pay a temple tax.
This passage from the book of Matthew is one we often hear about in church but have trouble wrapping our heads around. Several tax collectors approached Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. They asked him if Jesus endorsed and personally paid the temple tax. This is a tax all Jews were required to pay annually. Peter let them know Jesus had, assuming He had already paid it before asking Jesus directly. When Peter walked into the house Jesus was in, before he could ask about the tax, Jesus questioned Peter, asking him who was exempt from paying the tax. Peter said the king’s sons and their subjects were exempt. We know that Jesus was not obligated to pay the tax as it was on His Father’s house, and He is the Son of God. However, He still wanted to pay Peter’s tax and his own.
Jesus told Peter to walk to the shore of the Sea of Galilee and cast his line. He said that the first fish he caught would have a coin in its mouth that would pay for the temple tax. This moment was a test for Peter, who was a fisherman. He knew the waters well, but He had to let His faith lead the process. Peter requested that the tax collectors follow him to the shore. After Peter threw in his line and reeled it in, he opened the fish’s mouth, and the money was there. Jesus knew the fish would have the exact amount required to pay the tax. This story is about more than paying taxes. The story is a valuable lesson about faith and God’s promises. It also illustrates Jesus’ omniscience.
God desires us to fully interpret His Word and place our total trust in Him. This does not mean it will always be easy. Therefore, it is important to continuously read the Bible so we can understand its riches. Some verses will be perplexing, but when we take the time to invest ourselves in the Word, we will ultimately be rewarded.