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Feb 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 29, 2012

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures Luke 24:45 (read vv. 36-53)

INTRO: When you read a novel–mystery, sci-fi, thriller, etc.–the end is satisfying if there’s a point and everything fits

In this last small section at the end of Luke, one big challenge remains
– not in regard to Jesus – the message of his life is very clear
– but the story of Jesus was never just about Jesus
– it has been about the lives he touched – especially those closest to him

So Jesus is alive from the dead, God’s Son, Messiah and Lord
– but where does this leave the disciples?
– what has he done to their lives and where do they go from here?

This is the loose end that has to be resolved before the story ends
– I want you to notice in this last section, Jesus does all the talking

Verses 36-42, First Jesus had to calm them down

Perhaps it was his sudden appearance that frightened them
– think about it – they thought they were seeing a dead man
– normal greeting, Shalom – but there’s power in it when Jesus says, “Peace be to you”

As the scene rolls on, we watch the disciples go through three cycles of emotions: “startled and frightened”,” troubled” and “doubts,” “joy and amazement”
– Jesus has to get them past this initial reaction to implant his last instructions into their brains

Jesus interpreted their reaction of being “startled and frightened” as “troubled”
– “stirred up,” agitated, upset
– he saw this as a result of “doubts rising in [their] hearts”
– he addressed the problem directly and then went to work on their hearts

What would fix this problem of doubts?
– if by their own physical experience they could positively ID him
– so three times he tells them to “see”

  • look at “My hands and feet
  • “touch Me” and see
  • see that I have “flesh and bones”

What will they discover? “that it is I Myself”
– v. 15, “Jesus Himself” — v. 36, “He Himself”
– what is the significance of adding “Himself” in these three instances? We’ll see in a moment
– for now I just want to point out: there’s nothing more comforting or soothing to our troubled hearts than Jesus Himself

“While they still could not believe” – perhaps they were too scared to touch him
– he asked for something to eat – all along eating has been a theme in Luke
– in this instance, it is used to give proof of his physical existence

Verses 43-45, Next, Jesus had to remind and enlighten them

He had told them that the Scriptures strained to be fulfilled
– the Scriptures found their fulfillment in him
– it is not only the story of Jesus that is summed up in this last chapter of his life, but the entire Bible

Paul refers to this as a mystery
– the truth was in front of their noses the whole time
– nobody had seen it  (like Jesus walking with two disciples to Emmaus)

The scribes and Pharisees thought they knew the Scriptures
– but they only knew them as words printed on a page
– the Bible has a voice, a life, and has to be known personally
– the life was materialized in the flesh and bones of Jesus (Jn. 1:14)

He had calmed their hearts, but now he opened their minds
– there are thresholds we cross and afterward we can never go back to how we were before
– this was one of those thresholds for disciples
– they would never read the Scriptures the same way again

In this chapter we find opened eyes, opened scriptures, and opened minds

Verses 46-49, Now Jesus is able to explain what comes next

It was all right there – in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms
– the Messiah would do a remarkable thing

This brings Jesus and disciples to the next stage of history
– a message will go out to all the nations

“repentance”metanoia, a changing or turning of the mind
– every habit, good or bad, is a function of the brain
– why do we always respond same way to specific stimuli?
That is how our brains have been wired by experience
– new experiences, education, new skill can rewire the brain
– repentance is the work of rewiring the brain resulting in new behavior – a changed life

“forgiveness of sins”
– remember the relief people felt when Jesus forgave them? — the paralyzed man or the “immoral” woman?
– forgiveness is what made it possible for them to have a life with God
– “all the nations” need to hear this message

“In My name” – this brings us back to “Jesus Himself,” “He Himself,” and “I Myself”
– Jesus himself is the message

“they kept right on preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42)
“beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35)

The disciples were alive at this stage of history – they were what was to come next
– “You are witnesses”
– not “apologists” – are like expert witnesses in court; specialists who provide information regarding forensics, medicine, etc.
– but the expert witness was not involved in what actually happened and has no personal experience of the event
– a witness is someone who has touched and seen

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands concerning the Word of Life–and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was manifested to us–what we have sen and heard we proclaim to you also . . . (1 Jn. 1:1-3)

V. 49, “Behold” – the camera angle moves
– they are not to rush off into the world with their testimony
– by itself, their testimony is not enough

Something is added to their words – something that goes with them
– it is a promise from Jesus’ Father, a promise of power
– Jesus does not specify what the promise is or how it will be fulfilled in the disciples
– in fact, we’re left in suspense – we will have to read the sequel (the book of Acts)

To be continued . . .

In light of this future, the first demand Jesus makes on the disciples is for them to be patient

“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised” (Acts 1:4)

If there’s a problem with the church in America we got tired of waiting
– we started making things happen for God – envision, strategize, raise funds, launch campaigns, create programs, etc.
– we have reverted to taking the kingdom by force (Mt. 11:12; Lk. 16:16)

**Spoiler Alert**

Francis Schaeffer, “The disciples had to wait to receive the Spirit at Pentecost. Christians today are to follow the same order: to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit at salvation and to know something of the reality of the power of Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit–and then to work and witness. The order cannot be reversed.”

Verses 50-52, Jesus leaves them with a blessing

It was while in the act of blessing them that Jesus “was carried up into heaven”

The story ends where it began – in the temple
– but nothing is the same, because Jesus has walked among them

CONC: Now we have the story of Jesus and what it comes down to is this:

The epicenter of God’s objective and work is a human life
– to put the life of his own Spirit into a person
– consequently, that person becomes a disciple and a witness to what Jesus has done in him or her

The vital elements are here: word, wait, work, and worship
– enlightened, empowered, given meaningful, and finding fulfillment

All I hope is that we are the real deal — the true response to this wonderful book — true to Jesus
– and that when we share with others what we’ve found in him, the Spirit of God awakens them and leads them home

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