While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” (Luke 24:36 NASB)
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44-47 NASB)
Understanding is elusive. The moment it is achieved, awareness of more that is unknown accompanies it. The more you know, the more you know how much you don’t know. Bible study is like that. There’s always another question. But there are two things from this encounter with Jesus that help. In fact, they are what make Bible study possible.
The most obvious is that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”. He opened their minds. It was something that happened to them. They didn’t simply “have an open mind”, their minds were opened. So, understanding of Scripture comes from God.
If this is truly and experience we can have, then there’s no room for pride in what we find. On the other hand, it’s very common to focus on what God shows me, when it’s not about that either. That’s a Western Cultural problem of a self-centered focus and paradigm. It is more true, or more often true, that God will use His people to help deepen and broaden our understanding of Scripture. And in that sense, what He shows us is not just for us.
The other, less obvious, thing which helps our understanding of Scripture is Jesus’ statement when He first arrives: “Peace be to you.” Peace, or the traditional Jewish greeting of “Shalom”, is what Jesus says. This peace isn’t the absence of strife. This peace is a wholeness of being. Peace is not being divided in purpose, or fractured in spirit. It is more than serenity, or, perhaps, it is serenity divorced from the circumstances, immediate or remote.
When the peace from Jesus characterizes us, then study of Scripture is much easier, and more effective. Sometimes, in order to regain this peace, prayer must replace the time spent in study. In other times, the peace enabling study drives us to pray. In either case, this peace of God is tied inexorably to prayer. Jesus shows up and brings peace. If we want Him to “open our minds”, then we must be in His presence. The surest way to know that we are in His presence is to sense the fruit of His Spirit, one of which is peace.
Years ago, my Master called me His servant, but also His “knight”. Later He revealed to me that, as His servant and knight, I am to wait, worship, and walk before Him. It sounds simple, but consider that a knight is called to strife, yet to be in His presence instills peace. In order to walk before Him, I must live prayer. The result of this is a life characterized by peace. This peace, which should characterize me, is the context in which I fight as His knight. The only reason this sounds contradictory is that we have different definitions of peace and strife from God’s definitions. The challenge is let Him redefine my understanding of both.
As you study, what view of God do you gain through your knothole?