Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything 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.Luke 24:44-45
Over the years, several films have sought to portray the sheer brutality surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion—the unrelenting, unmitigated torture that transformed Christ into little more than a barely conscious mass of blood and flesh by the time He reached Golgotha. After viewing such a horrific scene, we may respond with tears and feelings of pity and remorse, or with confusion, wondering, Why did this have to take place? What actually happened here?
But however moved we may be, witnessing Jesus’ crucifixion—whether in person, as the disciples did, or through an artist’s rendering—is not enough in and of itself to bring an individual to saving faith. Rather, we meet Jesus savingly and definitively primarily through God’s word. The apostle Paul exhorted fellow believers along these lines: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15). The great need of every age is the proclamation of God’s word.
This was the purpose of Jesus’ interaction with the disciples in Jerusalem on the first Easter Sunday. They were confused and despairing following Jesus’ crucifixion. Then, as they cowered in a locked room, their Savior appeared, frightening them (Luke 24:37). And how did He still their souls? He assured them of His physical resurrection; but He also pointed them back to God’s word, which He’d spoken to them before His resurrection and which they would still have after He had ascended back to heaven. He gave them information and then He gifted them with illumination: He “opened their minds to understand.”
What these disciples needed is what we need: to meet Jesus in the pages of Scripture. We may not be able to see Jesus physically, but we can read all that they read: all that is written about Him in the Old Testament and in the apostolic teaching of the New. We can see Him there as He opens our minds to do so. We need more than intellectual ability (though that is necessary); we need His supernatural activity. We need to ask the Spirit of God to show us the Lord Jesus, our Savior, as we read. May this humble prayer therefore be the cry of your heart today: “Lord, make the book live to me.”