Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
I’m grateful that Jesus, shortly before ascending to the right hand of the Father, opened the minds of the disciples to understand the scriptures.
I’m still waiting for that miracle to fall into my lap.
Unlike those first disciples, I regularly encounter scriptural passages that leave me feeling more confused than edified on the other side.
I might put up a good front in Sunday School, or in Bible Studies, or even in Worship, but scripture, to me, often feels like a rather bizarre enigma.
There’s a reason Karl Barth referred to scripture as the “strange new world of the Bible,” for it is strange and new.
Which is all to say, I am deeply suspicious of anyone who claims the Bible is “clear” on anything.
And yet, the more time I’ve spent with the Word, the more I preached and prepared to preach, the more grateful I’ve become for the bizarre nature of the Holy Scriptures. Nothing in life is very clear, and to know that the Bible we come to week after week is as confounding as our lives can be is a great and comforting thing. It means that it can speak something new and good and true into the midst of our messed up and broken lives.
I’ve been spending a lot of time reading while we’ve been sequestered away from one another, and I came across this quote from Robert Farrar Capon earlier in the week that hits home the topsy-turvy nature of the Word:
“One of the peculiarities of biblical miracles is the way in which they stand the cause-and-effect sequence on its head. We normally expect that, when someone heals us, the order of events will be first the treatment, then the restoration of wholeness and finally, when we are quite sure we’re out of trouble, the celebration of the happy issue out of our afflictions. But the scriptural order is very often the reverse: the first step is a command to celebrate – to act as if we already had something we obviously don’t; the second step is the discovery that suddenly we’ve got it; and the third step – the actual treatment that achieves the remedy – never actually appears in the process at all.” (Robert Farrar Capon, Party Spirit)
For many of us, preachers included, we tend to bring our own expectations to the scriptures assuming we have an idea about “what it all means.” When, more often than not, the Bible doesn’t give a flip about what we think we know.
Suffering? Try rejoicing and see what happens.
Unsure of the future? Throw a party; God is with you.
Anxiety bringing you down? Celebrate that God has already done for you that which you could never do for yourself.
That’s pretty weird stuff. But so is life. And so is God.