Thanks be to God that the empty tomb was not the only thing that was opened on that first Easter! Equally important is that Jesus opened the minds of His disciples (and our minds!) so they could understand and believe the Scriptures! For without “opened minds to understand the Scriptures” – the open tomb (as well as everything else written clearly in the Scriptures) would be nothing more than a mere historical fact / a part of the once-a-year “Easter story” – rather than the daily life-giving / life-saving news for all people! As we read in 1 Corinthians 15:14-17, “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Paul also writes: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
As you may know, the number 3 is a Biblical number – indicating to us that something VERY special is being REVEALED to us. The continued Easter story from Luke 24, tells us three times of “openings” – v.31 “Then the eyes (of the Emmaus disciples) were opened and they recognized Jesus…” and v.32 “they said, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” (The two disciples ran back the seven miles to Jerusalem, where Jesus appeared to them again. (v.45) “Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”
We live in a world that accuses us Christians of being “closed minded” and demands that we be “open minded” / tolerant – open to all opinions – accept all things – they accuse: “Who are you to tell me I’m wrong!”
Contrary to the world’s demand to have “an open mind,” God’s Word is very clear that there are MAJOR differences / clearly opposite world-views:
- Creation vs. Evolution – 7-day creation or thousands, millions of years
- Definition of God and sacred writings – (Quran, Book of Mormon, Watchtower, Unitarian, Humanism, many false interpretations of the Bible, etc.)
- Redefinition of marriage and family / same-sex marriages, co-habitation without marriage, divorces that should never happen
- Many Life issues – beginning of life / ending of life / health care issues
- The world says: Everything is relative – “have an open mind” – there is no “one truth.”
But we know: “Thus says the LORD” / we confess: “This is most certainly true!
We live in a worldly, self-centered, permissive society in which the motto is, “Anything goes as long as it benefits me / “I’m entitled – because I want it and I deserve it.” Is it any wonder that people (especially children) are confused and lost when it comes to right and wrong?
It’s the same old temptation from the beginning…Satan tempted Adam and Eve to “have an open mind” – deceitfully asking: “did God say?” – and then suggesting that they should be open to their own interpretation… And then, directly contrary to the truth God had given them, Satan lied, saying: “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) Yes, their eyes were opened (in a very bad way!) – and they “died” to “the perfect life” God gave them before the Fall. Now their minds were “opened” and filled with sin, evil and death; filled with guilt, shame, blame, fear, broken relationships with God and each other! And this sin CLOSED their minds to God and the truth of His Word.
The focus of the world: “it’s all about me,” my comfort and my needs – (we see daily examples of this in the airplane passenger removed from a flight because of repeated poking a pen at the snoring man sitting next to her… the horrible news about no one stopping the repeated sexual assault against a woman at Panama City beach in Florida on Spring break… the attempted bombing at Ft. Riley as a part of ISIS and other extremists. The daily news is full of this brokenness and selfishness – and our own lives show it too – our prayer is often “My will be done” rather than “God’s will be done.”
And it’s certainly NO SURPRISE therefore, of the misunderstanding of Scriptures! When “it’s all about me,” then God’s Word is seen as a bunch of rules and regulations to take away my “fun.” Like a rebellious child, we think or say: “Don’t tell me what to do!” But loving and wise parents know better and want to protect and keep their children safe. Therefore, they love and discipline their children – they patiently teach them what is true and best for them.
The Bible is a “closed book” to anyone without the “key” of faith in Jesus. Jesus explained to the Emmaus disciples, and all His disciples, how the Old Testament was fulfilled in His life, death and resurrection; Jesus “opened their minds.” We continue to teach and preach Jesus Christ alone to those who are “close minded” in the world, knowing that faith in Jesus Christ is the peace of God that surpasses all our understanding that keeps our hearts and minds “opened” and centered in Christ Jesus, through every day; all that we do in this life until life everlasting. Amen.