44Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”45And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48And you are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24: 44-48)
When Jesus Christ was resurrected, he appeared numerous times to His disciples. They were of course delighted and amazed, but on every occasion there was some confusion. Although Jesus had risen from the dead, there was a certain change in Him that momentarily obscured the reality with which they were face-to-face. Whether it was on the road to Emmaus or in the room where disciples were gathered, or their return to shore after a night of fishing, they saw Jesus but were not quite certain it was He.
In a way, this is understandable because the shock of seeing someone die on the Cross and then be buried yet now standing before you for the first and only time in the history of the world will at the very least invoke wonder and a clouded over sense of “how can this be?” Yet as He talked with them, they knew their amazement and joy was justified.
In the verses quoted at the beginning of this article, Jesus communicated three fundamental realities of faith and the understanding it brings. These three dimensions of Biblical truth still apply and are relevant to all true believers. If any one of these three understandings do not permeate our faith walk and are not foundational in our daily faith walk, then a corrective is in order.
God must open our understanding if we are to comprehend the Scriptures. Memorization, rote repetition, the admonition of parents and relatives, the telling of Bible stories in Sunday school, the insistence of the number of available New Testament texts, or the reality that other contemporaries or near contemporaries of Jesus who were not Christians refer to His existence and his claims, thus the reality of Christ as a person, are all to no available in creating our faith and the saving knowledge that grace affords.
What is needed for saving grace to grip our wills, hearts, and minds? In the above verses it is clearly stated that Jesus must open our understanding. God Himself effectually calls us to knowing Him as God, as the One Who Saves, as the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy, and as the one and only true path of salvation. When Jesus said “Take up your cross daily, deny yourself, and follow me,” he was not merely affirming a claim to leadership with a self-centered leadership saying. No. He was uttering an ultimate truth of salvation. Christ leads to our salvation as no other leader, no other cause, is able to do. But we can only understand this if Almighty God Himself opens our minds, hearts, and wills to this understanding of the eternal significance of Christ’s presence in our world.
The reality of Christ and the salvation He offers if we follow Him is the direct and ultimate expression not only of His teachings during His three-year ministry and the accompanying miracles but also an extension of Old Testament teaching in the Law (Torah), the Prophets, and the Psalms.
For this writer and pastor, the most succinct and inspiring of references in the Hebrew Scriptures is Isaiah 9:6 which states, “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The “child is born” refers to the Incarnation of Jesus who was conceived miraculously and was celebrated by the angelic hosts at His birth. He deservedly is “called Wonderful Counselor” because He taught the two greatest commandments, like a stream of living water poured forth the eternal truths of the Beatitudes, and with the Father sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born again believers as our “Comforter.”
He is Mighty God because He reigns as our sovereign God from Heaven and providentially oversees and rules all of history. He is Everlasting Father because, as one-in-essence with the Father (“homoousia” as stated by the Council of Nicea) He is the Alpha and the Omega. Before all creation was, He was, and will rule the universe when the kingdoms of this Earth no longer are existent. Lastly, He is the Prince of Peace. Unlike the world’s peace which is simply absence of war, His peace is peace with the triune God, and thus a spiritual peace that cannot end just as the Lord is the infinite Lord of all.
The Prophets and the Psalms tell of Christ’s coming. Hosea 6:1-3 writes “Come and let us return to the Lord for He has been torn, but He will heal us; He has been stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us, and on the third day He will raise us up that we may live in His sight.” Isaiah 53:10 sys, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He has put Him to grief, when you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”
All of us who have been saved by the power of Jesus Christ can rejoice in Psalm 40: 1-3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry…And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” The disciples witnessing the risen Christ had their moments of fear, but their hearts were already singing a new song and their trust manifested to the point that they were willing to pay any price for their faith.
The Living God called the disciples and all of us to a penitential spirit, not only a one time “decision for Christ.”
We are born again in humble submission to our Lord and God. We know ourselves as sinners saved by nothing of our own, but that we are saved by grace to His eternal glory. Although we despise the lies of Satan, our salvation is not based upon our repudiation of the wokesters with their incessant support of perversions nor our repudiation of the commies who sow discard between whites and blacks, nor our abhorrence of wasteful spending, nor our deploring of the daily destruction of our sovereign boundaries. Rather, it is our repentant spirit on a daily basis where we re-affirm daily our ongoing need for Him and His forgiveness. As the great minister John Owen explained so well in the 17th century, we live conscious of indwelling sin. Lust, anger, greed or covetousness, and other nasty soul traits arise in the human heart and mind even in those of us blessed by His salvation. We are to repent regularly even as we magnify and glorify His name now and forever.
Picture credit: Martin Goldsmith
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