After feeding the five thousand, the Lord profoundly taught "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven," (John 6: 32) referring to the manna provided to the children of Israel in the wilderness. This statement, coupled with his ensuing sermon declaring His divine role as the Bread of life, so shook the audience that "many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (John 6: 66)
A few years ago, an inspired bishop assigned this chapter to my then-fiance and me as companionship study as we prepared to be sealed. I realized then, for the first time, how radical the Lord's teachings were to his audience. Jesus was not merely preaching comforting words about how He is our daily Bread; rather, He was violently rending the veil of the Jewish worldview. By declaring "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven," Jesus declared His divinity, yes; but His audience would likely have perceived it less as a declaration of divinity and more as a slander against their founding prophet. Shattering preconceived notions of prophethood and Messianic ideals, Jesus' call required a response of His hearers.
In analyzing how the Lord teaches and trying to follow His example, do we work similarly? Does our teaching (or preaching) require our hearers to respond. Or do we allow enough platitudes and feel-good moments to eliminate such "hard doctrine" from our worship?
Alma 5 presents a similar strategy. We receive a series of questions that require self-evaluation and that destroy our tendency to megalomania and self-righteous complacency. Thus, the pattern of the Lord seems to call us to abandon our worldview and take up His. Abraham's call (which I have addressed elsewhere, see Conversaion and Abraham Paper here: http://www.angelfire.com/planet/morrisonwritings/), summoned him to abandon every sense of self that had previously defined him and to follow the Lord.
In sum, the Lord's teaching style presents itself as radical and revolutionary--hardly a traditional LDS conception of "reverence," yet more reverent to the Object of our worship than our "reverence." Teaching and studying the scriptures should evoke the same discomfort that the Lord's audience experienced when hearing "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven." If this call does not accompany our interactions with scripture, we are not properly teaching or studying. The scriptures, whether ancient or modern, can provide us an opiate to feel good about our current belief system. Or they can do violence to that belief system, replacing it with the daily Bread for which we pray. If we approach the scriptures merely to take comfort in our current understanding and find our interpretations or personal versions of doctrine verified, we will find what we look for. But we miss the Lord's call in the process and end up starving.