We've all experienced the effect of gravity, either by dropping something or something falling on us. But understanding what causes the force of gravity requires some knowledge of physics, and yet is still a theoretical mystery.
Understanding truth, theological or biblical truth, is similar. A certain level of understanding is plain and obvious, but a fuller understanding may elude us.
An encounter with Jesus
On the same day Jesus rose from the dead, two of His followers travelled from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles away. As they walked, they tried to sort out everything that had taken place.
Jesus came along and joined them as they talked with each other, but they didn’t realize it was Him. “You seem so absorbed with what you’re discussing. What are you so concerned about and why do you look so sad?” Jesus asked.
The two halted and Cleopas said, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn’t know what happened recently?!” Jesus simply replied, “What happened?”
They answered with amazement, “All that’s gone on with Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet working powerful miracles, and who spoke the truth with real authority! He was highly favored by God and the people respected Him, but our ruling priests and leaders had Him arrested and insisted He be put to death. So He was crucified, but we had believed He was the One who would deliver and restore our nation, Israel.
It’s been three days now, since all this took place. But today we were shocked to hear some of the women, also His followers, had gone to His tomb and found it empty! When they returned from the tomb, they said they had seen angels who told the women Jesus was alive! Some of His apostles also went to His tomb, but found it empty just as they said, and didn’t see Jesus.”
Then Jesus spoke sternly to them, “You are thinking like little children, unable to believe everything spoken through the Prophets. Isn’t it clear the Messiah needed to suffer all these things before His glorious reign?”
Then Jesus explained how the Law and the Prophets pointed to all of this, and gave them understanding of the Scriptures that spoke of Him as the Messiah. (Luke 24:13-27 paraphrased*)
[*This paraphrase is taken from my book, The Mystery of the Gospel]
Heard but not understood
This dialogue between Jesus and two of His followers is revealing.
Jesus told His followers what was going to happen to Him before it took place, on more than one occasion (Matt 16:21). These two disciples retell what Jesus told them, though they didn't realize they were talking to Him.
They heard. They believed in Jesus. Yet, they only believed at a certain level. They didn't comprehend what they were told and heard.
Is this not you and me?
As Christian believers, we may hear the truth and believe it, until something happens counter to our understanding of it. This was the case of these two followers.
So, why does this happen? Why do we miss the obvious more times than we'd like to admit?
The simple answer is because we are human, not divine. We are more familiar with this world than the Kingdom of God.
This sets us up for disappointment when it comes to spiritual truth. Why? Because we often have misconceptions based on false expectations of our own.
Some simple things seen in this story
- The disciples retold the gospel message, but didn't fully understand it (Luke 24:19-24)
- Jesus rebukes them for not believing and understanding what they were told (Luke 24:25)
- Jesus explains what happened to Him as He told them before (Luke 24:26-27)
- It was through personal revelation that the disciples understood the truth (Luke 24:30-32)
How can we stop missing the obvious?
I don't know of any short cuts to stop missing the obvious with biblical truth. But, here are a couple things I've learned from this story that might help—
- Read and reread the scripture you're studying in different versions—observe it again from different views
- Learn to put biblical truth in your own words (IYOW) [reading other versions will help]— by doing this you will process (purposely think about) what you are reading
- Go back to what you know already (see Luke 24:30-32 & John 6:5-12; 35-40)
- Pray! Ask God to reveal things to you by His Spirit
[If you'd like to read more about this, consider buying my book, or downloading it as an e-book]
Here's another take on this story and the topic of this post— click on this link– http://goo.gl/g4L2fo and scroll down to the link titled– "The Doubters on the Road to Emmaus") — It's a chapter from the book Unfollowers, written by a writer whose blog I follow— http://edcyzewski.com/my-books/