And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)
I am always totally awed when I consider the magnitude and completeness of the grace that encompasses the salvation of God. It is a remarkable gift, perfect in every way. We come to Him as sinners, and the process of transformation is a living testimony that, truly, nothing is impossible with God. What makes this so remarkable – even beyond the awesome truth that the God of the universe Himself came to live on earth as our example and to die on the cross as our perfect substitute – is the fact that He then proceeds to give us everything we need to work out that salvation.
First, we are given faith – to each of us, the measure we require for every single thing we will encounter in our spiritual walk. We don’t have to conjure it out of nothing, or try to shape it out of doubt and fear and unbelief. It’s given to us as a free gift, if we only reach out and receive it. As we walk in it, so it grows, a little more each day. And there is extraordinary grace, a provision for extraordinary moments when extraordinary faith is called for.
Second, we are given fellowship. We have the opportunity to walk with Father God as one of His children. We can fellowship with our Kinsman-Redeemer as a beloved brother, sister, disciple and friend. Binding these to us is the amazing Holy Spirit, our guide, teacher, and comforter. We have fellowship with the triune God, the ability to walk, talk and share with Him every tiny detail of our lives, every emotion, every fear, every plan or dream, even simple pleasures. As part of His body, we have fellowship with other believers in a family bound together by love and grace.
Third, He gives us daily grace to live our lives as He has called us to do. There is nothing in us that is worthy of bearing His name. Yet His grace operates in and through us, transforming us and strengthening us, helping us to live our lives as living sacrifices. It is grace that brings us through each day, grace that gives us peace to rest, grace that stirs the joy within and which lends us courage when we lack it. While utterly intangible, grace remains a powerful gift in our Christian walk. Without it, we would struggle and succumb to every trial and temptation.
Then we have His Word as the foundation of every other gift – an eternal, unchanging Word that provides truth for every conceivable circumstance or situation. Whether it be prayer or praise, guidance or wisdom, we will find what we need in His Word. It is truth immutable, rooted in the very nature of God, and self-empowering. Everything His Word needs to come to fruition is contained within itself. It is perfect, complete, and all-encompassing. It is life, healing, hope and power, the total solution for every human need, just as is Christ, who is the Word incarnate.
Finally, as today’s verse reminds us, we have a rare and remarkable gift. The very author of the Word does something that is almost beyond comprehension – He opens our understanding. He doesn’t just give us the Bible and expect us to get on with it. He doesn’t assume that we will be able to work it all out for ourselves. Aside from the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us all things, He opens our understanding. He empowers believers to not simply read the word, which is ‘head knowledge.’ Understanding is ‘heart knowledge.’ It’s what happens when the Word is quickened within our hearts, when it sparks within our spirits, when it becomes the very power of life within us.
Simple knowledge is worthless. Anyone could, if they applied themselves, learn the Bible ‘by heart’ – a tedious process, and time-consuming, but not impossible. Even Satan himself knows the Scriptures. What defines the believer, however, is not knowledge. It’s wisdom that sets us apart. When God, in His grace, opens our understanding, knowledge is quickened within us and becomes wisdom. It becomes a practical thing that empowers our lives, our prayers, our faith and our worship. It becomes the very life within us, something that is governed not by ourselves but by the power of God Himself.
None of us need to struggle to understand the Word. All we need to do is ask, and He will open our understanding. It is not humanly possible to understand the Scripture. Jesus Himself said so. It is a gift from God that is available to every believer who asks with humility and thanksgiving. When we yield to Him, to His will, His plan and His purpose, He will begin to open our understanding, to bring the Word to life, and to anchor it deep within us. It’s a rare and wonderful gift, the very essence of grace, that transcends our humanness so that we can truly walk in wisdom and understanding.
Lord God, what a perfect, magnanimous gift You give us in salvation, perfect, complete and all-sufficient for our every need. Thank You for Your abundant grace that carries us daily, that teaches us and guides us. Help us to surrender to Your work, and open our understanding so that we may learn of You and Your Word become the very life of Christ within us.