As I watched The Bible on Sunday night, March 3, 2013, I also followed a series of posts on facebook; and then on Monday and following, I took note of quite a few blog posts regarding the episode. I suspect the same will happen again this week with the premiere of the next installments.
The common theme of all of these posts, whether they were in favor of the series or against, including my own, was that one should not rely on a 10 part series put out by a secular cable channel to interpret the Scriptures, but they should go to the source, and read the actual Bible. My own post even referenced the example of Acts 17:11.
But there is another example, also from the book of Acts that should be taken into consideration: Acts 8:26-40, the account of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.
The Eunuch is doing what everyone seemingly wants him to do: he is reading the Bible. But there is a problem: the Eunuch does not know what the Scriptures are saying. He can read the words on the page, but the meaning is a complete mystery to him.
This is not an unusual problem; the Scriptures are not an easy book to read. They were written long ago in a time and place very much different from our own. In can also be difficult for even learned believers to understand when the Scriptures are speaking factually and when they are speaking allegorically or metaphorically. There is also the problem that some of the books of the Bible are historical, others are poetry, still others are prophetic, some are letters, and there is even apocalyptic literature. And without a decent, reliable study Bible, it is difficult to keep track of who is who and what the time period is.
So if a person just opens the Bible and starts reading, what are they going to find? Ultimately, they are going to find frustration in trying to figure out what is going on.
Which brings us back to the Eunuch; he is struggling with the prophet Isaiah, when Philip appears.
With the help of Philip, who represents the Church, the Eunuch is able to understand what Isaiah is speaking of; which ultimately leads to his question in verse 36: See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?
Notice the change: left to his own devices, he will either toss the Scriptures aside and never look at them again, or worse yet, arrive at his own wrong interpretations, thereby jeopardizing his salvation; but with the arrival of Philip, he is led by the Holy Spirit to be baptized.
Which scenario would you prefer?
The answer to watching The Bible miniseries on television is not to go to the knee jerk reaction and say ‘don’t watch, just read the Bible’; instead the answer is ‘go to Church’ and hear the Scriptures opened to you in the sermon, and made real to you in the water of baptism and the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.