When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:30-32
I have had the privilege of sitting at the feet of several remarkably-gifted teachers through the years, who have opened up the Scriptures to me. Two in particular had a way of contextualizing the truth of God’s word in such a way that new insights, understandings, and possibilities began to emerge. My world got larger through their input. In fact so much of what they did was to reorient my perspective on the same truths that I have held sacred for decades. They really said nothing new, per se, but they helped me to see new ways to connect the truth of God’s word with life and ministry.
One of these is Rev. Robert Newton, serving now as District President of the California/Nevada/Hawaii District of the LCMS. Robert was a year or two ahead of me at the seminary, served as a missionary in the Philippines and has always had a special place in my heart. He presented some great missional insights at a Texas District Convention several years ago which greatly helped shape my missional understanding and approach. I have seen him work in other contexts as well in ways that enlighten and deepen Christian truth.
Mike Breen provided me with similar re-contextualizing ideas and insights at both a PLI conference and through his 3dm learning community experience. I said of him to a staff member before we attended the learning community that “he draws from a deep well.” In other words he has a deep reservoir of understanding, knowledge, and experience which inform his teaching. Her reaction – as soon as he began teaching us that day was to say, “I see what you mean about drawing from a deep well!”
These are but two of the Scripture Openers who have enriched my understanding of God, mission, and life over the years. They did for me what Jesus did for the Emmaus road disciples. Jesus spoke with them about God, faith, hope, life, salvation – all centered in his own life, ministry, death, and resurrection. That did not close things in for them. They began to see the truths that have been waiting their fulfillment for centuries. He helped them to see new possibilities of purpose, identity, meaning, and hope that had been part of the longing of God’s people since the time of Abraham – and even before.
Some people think of tying all of our religious hopes to Jesus alone as limiting and exclusivistic, narrow, and closed-minded. But embracing Jesus’ teachings, truth, and theology as the singular and exclusive point of truth is like discovering the North Star: It allows you to navigate all over the globe. It gives you a solid basis from which to embrace every thought, idea, and perspective without losing your way.
When Jesus opens up the Scriptures they come alive. When that happens life springs anew, hope rises, and purpose abounds. That is the abundant life which Jesus came to bring us all, and it is a gift well worth exploring.