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Open Scriptures, Open Minds

May 4th 2014 by Joel Schultz

Today is the third Sunday of Easter and we again hear a story in the Gospel lesson which occurred on the day of Resurrection. Jesus walking along the road to Emmaus open the Scriptures to two unnamed disciples so that they would come to understand the things written about Jesus. Read or listen to find out more....

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Easter 3A – “Open Scriptures, Open Minds” – Luke 24:13-35 – May 4, 2014

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

[Today is confirmation Sunday and it is fitting that…] Today we continue our celebration of Easter and the wonderful news of Jesus’ resurrection. The Good News is that Jesus defeated death, opened the grave, and rose to life again. That is certainly important and joyous news for us. Yet as important as that is, today we heard of another opening that Jesus did that is just as important as his opening the grave – Jesus “opened” the Scriptures to His followers “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (v. 27). This, too, is Good News, for without this opening, the open tomb would be of no benefit to them. They needed their minds opened to the Word of God in order to believe and understand the Good News of the open tomb.

[This is really what confirmation and pre-confirmation have been about. Starting in 5th and 6th grade with pre-confirmation as your minds were opened to the unfolding of the story of salvation and in confirmation where the truths of Scripture were further opened as we learned what God has done for you in the person and work of Jesus and how we respond with lives of faith. Opening the truths and wisdom of Scripture and opening your minds to learn and grow in the faith – confirmation!]

That kind of open-mindedness is very different from what our world today thinks when it values open-mindedness. To the world, this means to be open to all kinds of thinking, all opinions, and all views – that there is no one truth, but that we need to be open to all different interpretations and judgments. To be open-minded is to open your mind and let all sorts of things fill it – all kinds of worldly wisdom, enlightened thinking, and newly discovered truths.

Worldly truths and wisdom which say sex outside of marriage isn’t sinful. Worldly truths and wisdom which say cheating isn’t a big deal in any circumstance. Worldly truths and wisdom which say there are many paths to heaven and most people worship the same god. Worldly truths and wisdom which say that truth is relative – believe and do what feels right to you.

But the result of all this open-mindedness is that our minds today resemble a landfill or a cesspool, because all those nuggets of worldly wisdom have been dumped in to mingle and mix and ferment together, causing confusion and doubt. Not knowing what to believe. Not knowing the truth.

That seems to be the kind of confusion that gripped the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion and death. In our text two of His unnamed follower were heading home to Emmaus – disappointed, confused at reports of a resurrection. A little later, when Jesus appears in the upper room Luke records that “they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. . . . [And] doubts [arose] in [their] hearts” (vv 37–38).

For when it says “doubts [arose] in [their] hearts,” it means that their hearts were stirred up. Think of muddy water that gets stirred up, or a pot of soup that gets stirred up. All the stuff that had filled their minds, that had settled to the bottom, got stirred up that horrible weekend and clouded their thinking, so that things weren’t so clear anymore. All kinds of thoughts and ideas and worldly wisdom had been stirred up in their heads, and they didn’t know what to think or believe anymore. Could someone live after he had died? Was Jesus who He said he was? Why didn’t God save Him? Could this be a real body? They were confused, as many in our world today are.

And so Jesus comes to them and opens the Scriptures and opens their minds – not to let more junk in! – but to clean out the junk and fill their minds with His Word. To clean out the cesspool of filth and falsehood and fear and all kinds of wrong thinking and ideas, and then fill their minds with His truth and wisdom. For only He can open the tombs of our minds and fill them with the light of His Word and truth, with repentance, faith, and forgiveness, that we may know Him and believe and be saved.

And this is what the risen Christ is still doing today, here, in His Church. The Epistle today says we “have been born again” (1Pt1:23) – born again through water and the Spirit in Holy Baptism – called to be children of God. Born again to a new life as we are joined to the death and resurrection of Christ. Through water and the Spirit, the tombs of our minds are opened and filled with the truth of the risen Christ. And this not just once, but over and over again as in repentance and faith we return to our Baptism, to clean out the junk this world pours in, to be absolved of our wrong and sinful thoughts and words and deeds and desires, and to be filled with the truth, love, and clarity of Christ’s life and love.

And then something else happens. For after God first acts and we receive, we then act. For just as children learn how to speak by being spoken to, and learn how to act by imitating their parents, so, too, do we children of God. A few verses later in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus appears to them in the upper room, He calls them and us eyewitnesses who will be sent to speak what they have seen and what they believe. We are sent with His Spirit, to speak as we have been spoken to, to love as we have been loved, to forgive as we have been forgiven, and thus to open minds filled with confusion and doubt, sin and death, that the light of Christ’s cleansing forgiveness might shine on all.

Jesus opened the Scripture to His disciples and to us and revealed His truth and wisdom – that we would know what is true and what is false; what is good and what is not; what is godly and what must be left aside. And so He is here for you, to fill you with His gifts. To forgive your doubt and give you peace. To fill you with His life-giving body and blood, that having here received, you go and give. With His life, His Spirit, His words, His truth, His love, His forgiveness. The Spirit of Christ working now through you as you speak His Word, opening and filling hearts and minds. And opening heaven to all.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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