Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we bask in the afterglow of Easter, treat us exactly like You treated Your disciples. Open our minds to Your Word of truth today, just as You did with them. Give us true enlightenment so that all doubt, fear, and second-guessing may be replaced with joy, confidence, and gladness. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF ETERNAL TRUTH!
TEXT: Luke 24: 36-49
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Learning from an expert teacher is pure excitement. I don’t care if you’re a young carpenter, painter, computer programmer, scientist, or seminarian; being around experts who really know how to teach is a great joy and a great blessing. True expert teachers are hard to come by. In my field of theology I know various fellows who are terribly bright and know more factoids from the Bible than I can count. And yet, simply knowing facts doesn’t do you much good if you don’t know how they all interrelate. Let’s liken it unto a forest ecosystem. You may be able to identify all sorts of trees, shrubs, flora and fauna, but if you don’t know how they interact with each other and what that means to you, as a person, that knowledge is pretty worthless. So, too, when it comes to the facts of the Bible.
The greatest theologian I’ve ever known was Dr. B. W. Teigen. I’ve talked a bit about him before. He knew the facts of Scripture, but even more importantly he possessed an over-arching view of how they fit together into a cohesive whole. Listening to his chapel sermons was amazing. Talking with him was like being a part of a one-sided conversation that he had with himself.—And it was always so interesting you never wanted to add anything! I still fondly remember his class on liturgics in which he didn’t dwell on when to face the altar or how to stand, but more importantly opened our minds to what it all meant. Just being in his presence you picked up ideas and understanding that you never possessed before. Around him the Bible made complete sense.
As I read this lesson this past week, I was reminded of those days. For to me, the key phrase in this text is: “Then Jesus opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures.” I know a little of what that feels like. And so, as we consider this lesson, I want to remind each of you that:
WHEN GOD OPENS MINDS, THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT ABOUND!
Reading over this text the facts of it are clear. Luke begins with the disciples in the Upper Room the night of Easter. Luke, our writer, and Clopas, Christ’s uncle, had just arrived all out of breath after running back the 12 miles from Emmaus. There Christ revealed Himself to them. There He showed them that indeed He was risen from the dead. Their crucified dreams of salvation were resurrected in that instant. Well, they arrive to tell the other disciples what had happened. “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” This sudden appearance of the Savior startled and even frightened them. Was it a ghost? Was Christ real? What did it all mean? But Jesus knows their fears and calms them. “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
Then to prove His point, Christ extends His hands with their wounds and shows them His pierced feet. Luke adds: “And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything to eat?’” They had some broiled fish—as was befitting fishermen—and Christ then ate it. He was real! He was alive! He truly was God’s Son Who had paid for their sins on the cross and lived to tell about it.
Now comes the intriguing part. He told them that the entire Old Testament, which they had learned from their youth, was all about Him. He went on to explain how all those ancient sacrifices pointed, in various ways, to His ultimate sacrifice for their souls. He recounted the over 300 Old Testament prophecies which told intimate details of His life, and how He had fulfilled every one of them. He applied the Spirit’s power, the power of enlightenment, to their hearts so that they could understand God’s ways in God’s terms and not be swept with human limitations. Christ the Savior was now also Christ the Master Teacher. In that instant, those minutes and perhaps hours spent together in that room, Jesus really made clear to them what Isaiah said: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord.” The truth that God did what we could not—make peace between sinful, limited humans, and their Sovereign Lord—that truth now had meaning and substance. It was standing before them in the flesh! The truth that this life is but a short interlude to the real thing—eternal life in heaven with God, with angels, untouched by pain, suffering, and death—that truth inflamed their souls and freed them from the confines of living only for the moment and usually being disappointed. Literally, they grew out of their skins at that time and started to comprehend what being loved by Almighty God was really like. The meaning of the entire universe was opened up to them!
In America today education is the watchword. Everyone and everything is about learning factoids about this life. And yet for all our human achievement and knowledge, most people are floundering. Most as dissatisfied with their lives. Most long for something better. Contentment is in terribly short supply because modern education doesn’t bestow contentment—only God can do that. I had another professor, Glen Reichwald, who used to say: “Knowledge cubed.” That is, the more you know, the more you realize how much you really don’t know.
But right here Christ promises to send them the Spirit, the God of wisdom andunderstanding. That’s the reference to being “clothed with power from on high.” And although we often overlook the Spirit and His work, the fruits of His labors in us are what keep life liveable. Recall what those fruits are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” A marriage in which they are present is pure blessing. A childhood in which they are present is pure happiness. A life in which they are present never loses its pizz-azz. For with those fruits everything is new, fresh, interesting, and has meaning—because it all comes from our Creator Who loves us more than He loves Himself. After all, He proved that fact by dying in our place and rising to a new life just for us!
So, don’t ever weary of searching the Scriptures. Don’t just read the Bible and memorize a few facts and then lay it aside thinking: “Been there, heard that.” No, as the old prayer says: “Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the truth that will set you free. Amen