Having Our Minds Opened

Sunday, March 6, 2016, 6:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “To Be Like Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 24 (quoting vv. 36-49 ESV).

Jesus’ Resurrection (summary vv. 1-35)

Jesus Christ, God the Son, was betrayed by Judas, who was one of his twelve disciples. He turned him over to the hands of those who hated him, and who wanted him dead. Jesus was then put to death on a cross, although he had done no wrong. He did not remain dead, though. God the Father resurrected him from the dead. After he was resurrected, several women, who were followers of Jesus, went to the tomb where he had been laid, not knowing that he was not there. When they arrived at the tomb, and they saw the stone had been rolled away, and that Jesus’ body was not inside, they wondered what had happened.

Suddenly two men dressed in dazzling apparel stood beside them. The men told the women that Jesus had risen from the dead. They reminded the women of Jesus’ words he had spoken to them prior to his death, that he had told them that he would be crucified, and that on the third day he would rise again. Then, the women went and told the eleven disciples (Judas was now dead). The disciples did not believe the women, though. Their words to the disciples seemed like nonsense to them. Peter, nonetheless, ran to the tomb, and saw that Jesus was not there, and he wondered what had happened.

On that same day, two of Jesus’ followers were on their way to Emmaus. They were discussing between themselves all that had just taken place. While they were talking, Jesus appeared and walked with them, but they did not know it was him. They talked for a little while about what had just happened. He explained to them that the Christ had to suffer these things. He reminded them of all that the scriptures had said concerning himself, beginning with Moses and all the prophets. But, it was not until they sat down to eat, and that he took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them, that their eyes were opened, and that they recognized him, but then he disappeared from their sight.

Why Do Doubts Arise? (vv. 36-43)

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Then, the two went and told the eleven disciples and those who had gathered together with them. It was while they were still talking about this that Jesus stood among them. They thought he was a ghost, so he asked them why they were troubled, and why doubts were arising in their minds. And, then he gave them physical proof that he was not a ghost.

Although Jesus had told his disciples ahead of time, on more than one occasion, that he was going to be handed over to be crucified, but that he would rise from the dead, and that he would be returning to his Father, still, as these events began to unfold, they found themselves confused, bewildered and questioning what they were seeing. And, they didn’t recognize Jesus even though he was right there among them, in the flesh.

This caused me to think about Jesus’ questions to his disciples, and how they may apply to my life or to all of our lives. We have the written word, and we have the Holy Spirit living within us speaking God’s words to our hearts, if we are believers in Jesus Christ. We go to God in prayer, laying our requests before him, and he counsels, encourages, urges, and leads us in the way in which he wants us to go. Yet, how many times, when things do get difficult, and they will, do we begin to doubt God and his word, and so we become anxious over our circumstances? How many times do we not recognize Jesus in our midst, doing exactly what he said he would do? And, so we get fearful?

I believe we get troubled, because we get our eyes off Jesus, and we get looking at our circumstances, instead. We forget that God is completely sovereign over every aspect of our lives, and that he has it all under control. We forget what his word teaches, and we listen to humans and their logic and reasoning instead of trusting in God’s Holy Word. Although we say we believe what the Bible teaches, oftentimes our actions speak to the contrary. How we respond to life’s circumstances says much more about what we really believe than our words will ever say. We need to have our eyes and minds opened so that we can see Jesus at work in our lives and in our circumstances, and know that he has a plan and a purpose for it all, and that in all things he works for our good, i.e. he knows what is best for us.

Repentance and Forgiveness (vv. 44-49)

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, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Our minds and hearts, as well, need to be opened to the true gospel message. The Good News is that through Jesus’ death, he put our sins to death with him. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could be set free from the power of sin and Satan over our lives. Through his resurrection, Jesus was victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Amen! By God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven our sins, be delivered out of slavery to sin, and have the record of the charges, resulting from sin, which stood against us, cancelled. By faith in Jesus Christ, his righteousness is now credited to our accounts.

The thing of it is, though, Jesus did not go through all that suffering just so we could escape hell and just so we could go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God in our lives. His goal in dying for our sins was to deliver us out of slavery to sin so that we could live for him, glorify his name, and walk in his ways and in his truth. He died that we might live new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). He died to transform us, and to conform us to his likeness, and for us to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world. He called us out of the world so that we would be separate from (different, unlike) this sinful world, because we are becoming like him.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with him, of the Spirit, in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him in newness of life, to be lived to righteousness. The righteous requirement of the law is to be fulfilled in us who walk not according to our sinful flesh, but who conduct our lives (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. We are not saved, then live however we want, then die and go to heaven. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (continue to live in sin), we are liars. A saved life is crucified with Christ in death to sin, and it is resurrected with Christ to live in his righteousness. This is why he died. This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. And, we are to be his witnesses of this full gospel message.

Nonetheless, when we share the full gospel message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, we will be hated and persecuted just like Jesus was. We will be disbelieved, too, and people will think our words are nonsense. Yet, some will believe, and they will take our words seriously, and they will put their trust in Jesus Christ. Yet, we are not to fear the people’s response. We are to go with the gospel message whether we are hated or loved, rejected or accepted, embraced or ostracized, or disbelieved or believed. And, we are to do so because Jesus commanded us to do so, but also because we love God and we care about people, and we want other people to know Jesus and be saved from their sins, too.

When we share the gospel, and we are mistreated, we must remember Jesus’ words telling us these things will take place, so that we are not easily frightened, and so we don’t give way to doubt or fear, but we keep on in the faith, and we never, ever give up!

To Be Like Him / An Original Work
March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture

Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.

Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.

Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!

When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.