We left off with this exercise last week:

Exercise: Make observations in Luke 10:38-42, asking the following questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?

How many observations can you make?

One key to making good observations is to try to look at things from different perspectives. I’ve read the Gospel of Luke many times, so it can be easy to gloss over a story thinking I know all of the details. To practice observation, look at this picture (By the way, I have no idea where I got these pictures. I didn’t draw them and they have been circulating for years.):

young or old woman 1











What do you see? Share with a friend and compare what they see. Do you see the same thing?


Now let’s look at another one.

seal or polar bear









What animal do you see? Share with a friend and compare what they see. Do you see the same thing?


You and your friend may see the same thing. And some will have trouble with this. Others, however, after studying the picture will see things differently. In the first picture, people will see either a young woman or an old woman. In the second, an observer may see a seal or a polar bear.

OK, one more, what do you see?

young or old woman 2









Like the first picture, this one can be seen either as a young girl or as an older woman–depending on the angle which ones uses to view the picture. Don’t see it? Click on the image.

Sometimes when we’re looking at a passage in the Bible, we need to do our best to look at it from different angles. This, by the way, is one of the reasons that it is great to get together with other people to study. We all bring new perspectives to the text and often see things that others don’t. While Bible passages can’t mean whatever we want them to, we can learn a lot from other people’s observations.

Take a few minutes to go back over your previous observations. Do you see anything new or different? If you have a willing friend, have then study the text and compare notes with you. Does anything stand out to them that you didn’t see?

My observations on Luke 10:38-42, the Story of Mary & Martha::
(I won’t list all of them–just some of the relevant ones)

  • Martha opens her home to Jesus and his disciples
  • Mary was “at the Lord’s feet”
  • Martha was “distracted by all the preparations” and gets upset at her sister, Mary.
  • Martha addresses Jesus about Mary’s behavior, but I don’t see where she addresses Mary
  • Jesus doesn’t side with Martha, but with commends Mary with the words “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
  • From the context, I noticed that this immediately follows Jesus telling the expert in the religious Law answering Jesus’ redirection of his original question about what to do to inherit eternal life and Jesus telling the Story of the Good Samaritan.

There is a temptation to move on to interpretation quickly. And if you’re reading this before I have posted the next part, you may wonder what is taking so long. Taking time to carefully observe the details of a Biblical passage will lessen the likelihood of missing the intended meaning and application. Careful observation doesn’t guarantee correct interpretation, but the more time and effort you spend gathering facts, the more likely you are to reach the correct interpretation. We’ll move on to interpretation next week. Comment below or contact me if you want to discuss your observations.