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Devotional - Homiletic


This is one of the oldest and, probably to most people, common approaches to the Bible. The Bible is read - or heard - in the context of a person's faith and religious (devotional) practice. The text is understood directly in terms of the experiences and environment of the reader.  
The devotional and homiletic approach is essentially hermeneutic - it is about how we interpret the Bible. 


A devotional reading attempts to connect the text as closely as possible to the experiences of the Click here for Witness Statements relating to this approach reader/hearer. There is a contraction of any geographical and chronological distance between the reader and the text. This type of approach can be found in Bible reading notes, popular/devotional (rather than straight academic) commentaries and in sermons. Devotional reading often involves the reader seeking to hear God speaking directly to them - refer to the Witness Statements folder. 

This approach has been central to the way that the Biblical texts have been used since they were first written. It can be seen within the Jewish religion in the Midrashim tradition, particularly in the Halakhic (legal) and Aggadic (non-legal) elements. It has been argued that this type of use of the Bible is reflected in Jesus' reading of Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21).    Click here for extra information

It is, therefore, not surprising that it has also had a central place in Christianity from its earliest times and some of our earliest Christian writings reflect this approach. Click on the Evidence Bag (right) for more information.   

Over to You

Have a look at the Bible reading notes produced by the Scripture Union in the grey box on the right.

Note how the text and reader and brought together and how an element (the leper's apparent disobedience) is emphasised, explained and then used to illustrate a particular lesson. Compare this with Bede's Homily (in the Evidence Bag). 

Are there any other ways in which the text or parts of it can relate to our lives?

Think about

When you initially read this passage, what did you think was the main lesson/moral/story?

Why do you think that Mark recorded it - what was he trying to say about Jesus/the leper and what was he trying to tell his readers/hearers?

A Devotional Reading from Scripture Union's 'Daily Bread'


The Unreasonable Request

Does it ever occur to you that you canít stop witnessing to others about your faith? Our faith, or lack of it, shows up in every area of our life, whether we want it to or not. Think about how great it is to have a faith which is impossible to keep from sharing.

Read the text

'A man with a life-crippling disease, his prognosis bleak and hopeless, banished to the outskirts of life, facing only loneliness, rejection, ridicule, poverty and abandonment, is miraculously healed (v 42). In an instant, his life has been transformed from hopeless suffering to a bright and hope-filled future. And what does Jesus say? ĎSee that you donít tell this to anyoneí
(v 44). Yeah, right! Are you kidding? Just a few moments ago this man was on the brink of depression; his body slumped over, his feet shuffling along slowly and painfully. And now he canít stop laughing and his feet canít stop dancing. His body is now straight, full of energy and life, and he is supposed to keep quiet! Sorry, not possible. This isnít about disobeying a command of Jesus, this is about obeying his heart; this isnít about containing Jesus, this is about celebrating Jesus; this isnít about his refusal to witness to the church, this is about his inability to keep from witnessing to everyone he comes in contact with.
We donít know why Jesus told the man to keep quiet, but sharing our faith is not a mechanistic, duty-filled obligation we force ourselves to do. It is a natural, spontaneous response to the grace of God. We share our faith because we cannot help but share it.


Take a few minutes and write down all the reasons you feel gratitude towards God. Place that list somewhere where you can see it all day long (on your desk, refrigerator, car dashboard) and just celebrate Godís grace towards you today.

Text by Gethin Russell-Jones © 2003 Scripture Union published in Daily Bread Jan-March 2003, used with permission.

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