When we read Scripture, we tend to spend the most time on the major themes, or the narrative, or the beauty of the promises. However, if we pay attention to the little transition words, we can gain a little more insight into the passage as a whole.
Consider these opening verses in Luke 15:
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him (2) And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” (3) So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
Jesus goes on to tell the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son. The ‘So’ in verse 3, reveals the purpose for the parables. Jesus was illustrating the grace of God in receiving sinners, which was in stark contrast to the contempt the religious establishment showed them.
Another important little word is found in verses 6 and 9. ‘For’ tells us the reason for the joy. “I have found what was lost.” The restoration of the lost possessions is a metaphor for repentance. Jesus’s parables illustrate the joy at the restoration of the broken fellowship. It also shows how badly the Pharisees and scribes had misread the heart of God.
Other ‘why’ words include because, therefore (and its twin, wherefore), and occasionally ‘so’ is teamed up with ‘that’. I mark these words orange in my Bible to help them stand out. Pay attention to them and you’ll gain added insight into God’s purposes and ways.
(Bonus points if you noticed it all started with “then” which means we’re starting in the middle of the story. We really need to go back to chapter 14 to get the full context.)