“Words taught by the Spirit”
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
“Then He said to them, O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Lu.24:25)
These words have been said by Jesus, after his resurrection, to the two disciples who were travelling to a village called Emmaus. They were talking together of everything that had happened. How beautiful is the narration that Luke gives us in chapter 24, verses 13 to 51! Every time that I read this passage, my heart is humbled in the godly fear and the sensation of the presence of the Lord! I counsel you wholeheartedly to read and to reread this story… It is so challenging and so edifying! This wonderful evangelical narration helps us to get some lessons and understand some spiritual principles:
The lack of spiritual intelligence is due to a problem inherent in the heart
Jesus reproaches these two disciples and later the eleven apostles in their lack of spiritual intelligence because they were slow to perceive what had been foretold by the prophets and by Jesus Himself when He was still with them… He assigns lack of their spiritual insight to their heart that was slow to believe; HE does not call them “infidels” – because they were already his disciples – but He tells them that they are slow to believe. The lack of spiritual insight (called also in the Bible, foolishness) is not due to an inability or mental insufficiency but it is due to an inherent problem of the heart. The heart (the will) that is prompt to obey the instructions of a conscience illuminated by the light of the Bible will be blessed by the Lord with a spiritual insight to understand, to believe and to obey.
Verses Mark 8:17-18 are indeed revealing of this great truth: “But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them (attention: to his disciples), Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” Truth is often painful. When man does not use the eyes and the ears of his interior being, his memory does not function well. He does not manage to keep in his memory the words of God and discern God’s interventions in his life. Beyond that, he cannot use His words efficiently according to the cases and circumstances in life, neither for himself nor for others.
Differences between believers and non believers
As for believers, this situation can be assigned either to a slowness to believe or to a problem of conscience (1Joh.3:20-21) or even at a carnal state, as it was the case of the Corinthian believers who were living in disorder, who had problems amongst them and who were “unworthy to judge the smallest matters” (1Cor.6:1-6). As for unbelievers, the problem can be a lot more serious: usually, it is either a problem of bad conscience or of lack of love for the truth: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (Joh.3:19-21). It suffices to recall verses Mark 7:20-22, “And He said… For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries… pride, foolishness.” This same truth comes again through verses Eph.4:17-19. This passage says that the spiritual comprehension of non-believers are darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart… Why? Because they walk according to the vanity of their thoughts, having lost all sensitivity, etc. Then, men are and remain without spiritual intelligence because they have the heart hardened. And why have they themselves the heart hardened? Because they closed the eyes and plugged the ears in order not to hear, understand and not to be converted.
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1Jo.5:12). Independently of this basic difference between believers and non-believers, as well as of other particular differences, the principle is the same and produces the same result: Truth (in its broad sense) is not revealed but to those who love truth with all their heart! The Bible expresses this principle in other words: “The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies… Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses… The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (Ps.25:9-14). In addition, the true disciple of Christ has the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, Who illumines him, guides him into all truth, intercedes on his behalf and helps him in every way in his life.
When one sees people who are deprived of spiritual insight, who do not understand the spirit of the Bible, let us not look for the reason elsewhere. It is the lack of an open spirit, of the fear of God, of repentance and/or of lack of good will to abandon everything that is false or erroneous, with sadness according to God, and to embrace what is true and just. This is the source either of this slowness to believe or of the incapacity to believe and to understand! These people, in reality, do not obey; they do not search justice for themselves, with other people and with God… How revealing are verses 2Cor.3:14-16 that contribute to the understanding of this truth! “But their minds were blinded……… Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
In the same way, the heart can be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life as well as by the thirst of worldly success… (Lu.21:34). The situation may become even more serious: the heart can become “insensible” when men’s ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn. God cannot “heal” such men, even if they honor Him with their lips! (Mt.13: 15; Mt.15:8 and Mark 7:6). When a man’s heart is hardened Christ is “indignant” and grieved (Mark 3:5). Verses Joh.12:40, Isa.6:9-10 and Acts 28:27-28 give the same spirit; they give us another dimension, another “insight”, of the same truth: The Devil hardens the heart so that man cannot see, so that he cannot understand, so that he cannot be healed… The same thing said in another way: Since man does not want to see and to hear the truth, he becomes blind and deaf: then the spiritual eyes and ears do not function… It is a vicious circle…
The disciples had a big difficulty to change or to modify their former thoughts. They were stuck in the traditions of their spiritual leaders, who were hoping that their Messiah was going to redeem Israel of their enemies. Jesus’ death was contrary to their expectations and His resurrection from among the dead was too difficult to believe. Jesus’ resurrection seemed to them as an extraterrestrial story! Why were they senseless and slow to believe? Is it because their heart was hardened by sin or by lack of repentance? Maybe, but what is sure and certain, as far as His disciples are concerned, is that they had a big difficulty to get rid of the tradition of their elders, which had soaked all their beings. Their mind was stuck in the traditions of their spiritual leaders that hoped that their Messiah would redeem Israel of its enemies. And not only this! Their slowness to believe was probably due to the fact that they had not taken seriously, what the Lord told them when He was still with them. He had told them: “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men” (Lu.9:44). They did not let these words sink down in their ears because: “Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest” (Lu.9:46). He showed them that, in spite of their love for the Lord, their ideas were incompatible with the Scriptures. All they believed was but the product of Talmudic doctrines and traditions.
Jesus’ condescendence facilitates the opening of their spirit
When the two disciples met the eleven apostles and conversed, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them and said to them: “Peace to you. But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Lu.24:36-38). That appearance was at the same time sudden and unexpected. While they still did not believe for joy, marvelled and were bewildered, Jesus made an act of condescension: He wanted to help them to be convinced: He showed them His hands and His feet and ate before them! “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Ps.103:14). Then He said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Me (Lu.24:44). I do believe that when He had told them these words their heart was “pricked” by this soft reproof. Then it was the moment to open them the mind, so that they might understand the Scriptures. And He told them that thus it is written that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations. You are witnesses of these things (Lu.24:13-48).
History repeats itself: What happens in our days? The huge masses of “believers” of all religious confessions “swallow down” what their religion or denomination “believes” or what their theological schools teach them. The big majority of Muslims, of Christian Catholics and of Christian Orthodox, etc. have not even read the “Bible” of their religion. The Protestants (Evangelicals, Baptists, Pentecostals, etc.), who are considered as Bible reading people, they also have “swallowed down” what their denominations teach. This doctrinal imprisonment becomes “tighter” by the traditions and/or the constitutions of their local churches. Believers accept blindly the constitutions and By-laws of the churches to which they become members. This situation is due to the fact that they have neglected to examine all these things in the light of Christ’s words, they have not accepted His reproofs, they have not paid due attention to His warnings and they have not believed the promise of God that the Holy Spirit would guide them into ‘all truth’. They live with the mentality of the mass: It is neither easy nor profitable to go “against the current”… Besides, their denomination is hereditary! They do not have a personal relationship with Christ. The lack of interest to examine the traditions and the constitutions of their church in the light of the Bible, whether it has to do with the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church or the Protestant Church with all its various denominations does not preoccupy the persons who are responsible of the churches. They are simply afraid of those who are awakened on account of their “policies”… Numerous are the religious leaders who benefit from this situation and manipulate the “believers” according to their own interests and will…
The condition “sine qua non” for opening man’s spirit
The women’s testimony concerning the empty tomb and the proofs that have been given them from some ocular witnesses who went to the sepulcher were not sufficient to wake their mind up, understand and believe… everything that Jesus had announced them in advance… They were troubled and a lot of doubts arose in their heart. The two disciples PERHAPS – I say, perhaps because it is not written in the Bible – while He was giving them the bread observed the prints in His hands and saw how He disappeared. Their doubts immediately disappeared. They remembered how His words reached their heart and understood that Jesus was the Messiah. The result did not linger to appear: “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lu.24:32). While their heart was not open to accept and understand the truth “their eyes were holden that they should not know him”. When their heart was open to admit their “slowness” and the lack of spiritual insight, when their heart was humbled, THEN their eyes opened up, and they recognized Him.
Oh, may the Lord help us to understand the importance of the verse Proverbs 1:23: “Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.” He enabled them to comprehend the prophecies about His death and His resurrection. Their prejudices were now removed!
Only God can open the mind to comprehend the Scriptures, help us get rid of our prejudices and open our hearts to receive His words; and that when we humble ourselves before Him and His truth.
The passage in question is full of teachings, but, in my opinion, there are certain points, which are very important:
- God’s faithfulness: Even if we are slow to believe, He remains faithful: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2Tim.2:13). The Lord has promised us to increase our faith because He is not only the author, but He is also the finisher of our faith (Heb.12:2).
- The choices of our heart: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Pr.4:23).
- We must be open and teachable and our mind should not be «imprisoned» by the traditions or the constitutions of our churches. We must examine seriously everything in the light of Christ’s words like the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily” (Ac.17:10-11), accept His reproofs, heed His warnings and rely on the promises of the Bible. He will guide us into all truth.
- Those who are truly converted must put the emphasis in their witnessing and preaching on repentance and the remission of sins in Jesus’ name on the basis of His miraculous birth, His death and His resurrection and avoid fancied interpretations of the Bible, which are taught by men according to their theological systems. All Christians should tell the Good News and proclaim that all men should repent and believe and that only those who sincerely repent will be forgiven.
May the Lord open our hearts to understand and apply these principles in our life and in our teaching. Amen.