Did you know that a 30-second second TV commercial during Super Bowl 2019 cost $5 million?
Now, imagine someone who was willing to purchase five minutes of commercial airtime during the Super Bowl, to the tune of $50 million. It would be fair for us to assume that person was attaching a lot of importance to the message communicated during those five minutes, right?
In a similar way, I have been pondering the concept of airtime as it pertains to our study of Scripture. Certain things get way more attention than others, and I am coming to understand that God uses the extra airtime he gives certain topics or events to underscore their importance for us as His children.
The apostle Peter knew that repeating things was important so we will remember them. He wrote, “So I will always remind of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live the tent of this body…. (2 Peter 1:12, 13). When I see things repeated in the Bible, I conclude that God wants us to pay special attention to them, to remember them and reflect on them.
These passages are often (though not always) the ones I focus on committing to memory. Here are some passages that are repeated in Scripture:
Psalm 57:7-11 is repeated nearly verbatim in Psalm 108:1-5. These are often the first words I say to the Lord when I get up in the morning. They make a great wake-up prayer.
Any careful student of the New Testament knows that many of the same events of Jesus’ life appear in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Bible scholars have various theories of how those similarities came about. The main thing I notice is that virtually all of Mark’s gospel shows up in some form, usually slightly summarized in Matthew or in Luke. The amount of material that appears only in Mark is very small. This has led me to be a particularly zealous student of Mark’s gospel. I have benefitted so much from focused reflection on the life of Jesus in this way.
Did you know that there are two events in the Acts of the Apostles which are told and retold?
The story of Saul’s (a.k.a. Paul’s) conversion on the road to Damascus occurs in Acts 9. Luke records Paul retelling the story in great detail in Acts 22 before the crowd in Jerusalem and again before King Agrippa in Acts 26.
The story, with the slightest variations, is told three times in Acts! Likewise, the story of the conversion of Cornelius appears in Acts 10, but then Luke records Peter telling the same event in great detail to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem in the very next chapter, Acts 11.
I think that Luke made sure these two stories were retold and emphasized in his history of the early church because they were the key events that led to the gospel message coming to the Gentiles, of whom Luke himself was one. Together they represent the hinge events in Acts. Before them, the church is witnessing to Jews (or Samaritans, who were almost Jews). After them, the story shifts focus to the mission to the Gentiles.
Committing these two events to memory and regularly meditating on them has been immensely rewarding to me, and has filled my heart with gratitude that God has opened up His kingdom to us Gentiles.
Another example of an event getting a lot of airtime in Scripture is Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse in John 13-17. John’s gospel (22 chapters) is the record of events that occurred over the three years of Jesus’ public ministry. However, it is startling that five of those chapters, comprising close to 20 percent of the gospel, are dedicated to what Jesus told his disciples on that first Maundy Thursday night.
John must have attached major importance to Jesus’ message to have dedicated so much airtime to it in his gospel. Again, this has led me to be an especially earnest student of these chapters. I am trying to learn them by heart and meditate on them regularly.
In another blogpost I will share how I go about learning Scripture stories so they stay in my heart. In the meantime, may you be blessed as you stay on the lookout for the things that get a lot of airtime in the Bible.