When was the last time you were captivated by Jesus? That’s the question Erica Wiggenhorn presents in her new eight-week Bible study through the book of Luke called Unexplainable Jesus. Jon Graham, Producer of the Culture Connection podcast, finds out more from Erica on how she came to write these studies.
Q: Take a moment and share your testimony with us.
A: I became a follower of Jesus in my early teens. I had gone to church with my grandparents a handful of times where the minister was in a long, flowing black robe with a loud, booming voice. My experience of God was that he was a little bit frightening. Later, my father had a revival–type experience, and we began going to church. At that point, Pastor Mark said, “Well, Erica, if you’re going to be a follower of Jesus, you need to have a daily quiet time.” And I thought, “What’s the quiet time?” He said, “Well, you need to sit down. You need to be quiet, you need to read your Bible, and you need to let the Lord speak to your heart.”
Q: How did you approach reading the Bible as a new Christian?
A: As I opened up the scriptures, I was completely lost. You know, I didn’t know what a plow share was. I’d never seen an ox or a mustard seed. I remember saying to Jesus, how am I supposed to follow you when I can’t even understand you? It led to many years of guilt and shame. I didn’t know how to apply it to my life, but I knew I was supposed to read it.
Q: How did you break out of your guilt and shame in attempting to read your Bible, but not understanding it?
A: I finally thought, you know what? I’m going to get some resources to help me make sense of this book. Once I began to participate in Bible studies with other believers, it became a game changer for me. I felt a burden for the people out there that were like me. I wanted to create tools for them that help the Bible come alive and help them understand how greatly God loves them.
Q: Now you’ve mentioned that your desire is to move people from beyond knowing about Jesus, to encountering Jesus, to then actually knowing Jesus. What do you mean by that?
A: Well, a lot of times when we read our Bibles, we approach the scripture as merely an intellectual process, right? We often use terminology like, “I need to know the word of God.” But we forget that knowing the word of God is just merely the vehicle. It’s the thing that God has given us to connect us to the heart of God, the revelation of who God is. That’s the whole purpose of God’s word.
Q: Your study Unexplainable Jesus focuses on the Gospel of Luke. What drew you to these passages?
A: I love Luke for several different reasons. I love how he comes right out of the gate with his Gospel and says, “Listen, I wrote this for one main reason, and that is so you may know with certainty the things that you have been taught.” We are in an age in America where it’s almost like we’re looked at as less intelligent that we would actually believe this ancient book. I’m a mom of two teenagers also, Jon. This is very dear and near to my heart about passing on the legacy of faith to the next generation.
Q: I was curious as you were researching through Luke, were there any surprising little tidbits that you unearthed as you were working through this that fascinated you?
A: One thing that I discovered is how rabbis taught. Our pastors will give us two or three points, explain the passage of scripture, and then pack the punch at the end. But yet, when the rabbis would teach, they would share parables with a “point of turning” in the middle. The application piece of the parable isn’t at the end; it’s in the middle of the parable. That was a big game changer in how I read the scripture.
Q: Well, one of the things you talk about is how Jesus related to women and how countercultural he was. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
A: Any Christian woman in America has heard the Mary and Martha story. It’s in Luke 10, and Mary has this crazy idea that she’s going to go out and sit at Jesus’s feet. It was so completely out of the box that she would just plop down in this circle of men and think that she belonged there. What’s so interesting is that Jesus commends her for it.
I’m not even so sure Martha was upset about having to bake the bread as much as she was like, “Jesus, why are you letting Mary sit out there with the men?” When somebody sat with a rabbi, it was so that they could become a teacher themselves. It was so affirming to me that Jesus says, “You belong at my feet. You belong at my feet to learn from me and what you learned, share with others.”
Q: The book is structured in an eight-week series, and there’s a daily lesson. Should this be a personal study, group study, or can it function as both?
A: Both. I would really encourage you to find one other person to do it with you. I think there’s tremendous power in learning from one another and hearing how God is meeting others in his word at the same time he’s meeting us.
You can contact Erica Wiggenhorn and discover more about her books on her website: ericawiggenhorn.com. There are DVDs and digital downloads available to go with the study. Churches also get a discount for purchasing the materials through Moody Publishers. Listen to the interview above by searching for the “Culture Connection” on your podcast provider.