Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 29 2013 - Luke 24:13-53 – He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures

Today we complete Luke's Gospel with the wonderful story of the couple walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. I say a 'couple' because I think it likely that they were man and wife rather than, as has often been assumed (why?), that they were two men. As they walked they were discussing the things that had happened in Jerusalem and trying to make sense of them. Jesus joined them on the way, but they did not recognise him. He asked them what they were talking about and they explained to him how their Lord had been crucified saying, "But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21). Their hopes had been shattered, and yet, now three days after Jesus had died, the body had disappeared from the tomb. They just could not make sense of it all.

The third traveller then responds to them, "He said to them, 'How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." (24:25-27). Later, as they sat down together to eat, Jesus "took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them" (24:30). Immediately they recognised him, but just as immediately he disappeared from their sight. As they hurried back to Jerusalem they said, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

When they got back to Jerusalem they found the other disciples and began to explain what had happened. Then Jesus again appeared, this time to them all. "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, 'This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things'" (24:45-48). Jesus then tells them that they are to wait in Jerusalem until they are equipped with the Spirit who will enable them to tell the world about him.

Jesus is the focus of all that God has to say to us. Apart from him, we cannot understand the Scriptures rightly. Reading them without seeing Christ is, to use Paul's phrase, like trying to read with a veil over your face. But when you turn to see Jesus, the veil is taken away (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). Now you can see clearly the wonderful saving plan of God with Jesus at the centre. He is the one who brings to fulfilment all that was written beforehand. He is the heart of the story. He is the one who calls us to follow him and to take our place in the grand drama of redemption. This great story is also to find its focus and to display its clarity in us; the Spirit of the risen Saviour not only gives us freedom, he enables us to live out our part in the story as we are recreated in the image of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

The Spirit also equips us to tell the story – the whole story of Scripture with Jesus Christ as its focus. We have a message for the nations, calling them to come and join the drama; be part of the story; come follow Jesus the Christ.

Lord Jesus, help me by your Spirit to understand your word, live your word and proclaim your word. May the word become flesh in and through me and speak afresh to those around me.

Apr 29 2019 - 1 Samuel 17:1-37 – David prepares to face Goliath

The Israelites were at war with the Philistines and their battle lines were assembled facing each other across a valley. The Philistines had a giant of a man who continually challenged the Israelite army. Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall (3 metres) and carried 125 pounds of bronze armour and a spear with a 15 pound iron point on it; he must have made a fearsome sight. Daily he confronted the Israelite army and challenged a single Israelite to step forward and fight him. Such a contest would determine the outcome of the war.

Not surprisingly, no Israelite came forward to fight him, even though King Saul had promised riches and his daughter as a bride to anyone who could defeat Goliath. Most notably, Saul himself seemed far from keen to lead his people in battle. Like the kings of the nations around him, he raised taxes from his people so that he could pay others to fight his battles for him.

David had been sent to take food to his brothers who formed part of Saul's army. When he saw Goliath come forward with his daily challenge he volunteered to go out against him. Looking at David, Saul was initially dismissive; how could a young lad like him take on this giant of a man? But David replied, "Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:34-37).

David viewed the situation from a very different perspective from the rest of Israel – it's a replay of the story of the spies who were sent to look at the land of Canaan which God had promised to give to his people. The vast number of the Israelites saw only a giant of a man with a reputation for crushing all who opposed him. David saw an "uncircumcised Philistine", one who did not bear the mark of God's covenant promise. In David's eyes he is a man who has defied God and therefore one whom the Lord will defeat at David's hand. With the Lord's help David had delivered sheep from the jaw of a lion and the paw of a bear; now the Lord will use him to deliver the flock of God's people from this giant. David will be a shepherd to God's people, Israel.

The threats against God's people and the obstacles that seem to be placed against the work of the kingdom may appear to be of huge proportions but none can withstand the power of God. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has defeated all the powers that stand opposed to God and has made us more than conquerors. That should not lead to triumphalism, for Christ has conquered not through a dazzling display of power but by means of the cross; so it is through sacrifice and suffering that the kingdom is extended.

There are many 'giants' in our day who defy the living God and mock his people. Many mock the Scriptures, deny the person and work of Christ and pour pitying scorn on followers of the crucified Galilean. But we need not fear these giants, for Christ our champion has done battle on our behalf against our most fearsome foe. He has crushed Satan's head and is now at work by his Spirit plundering Satan's kingdom. We need the help of God's Spirit to see things as they truly are and to be bold but gracious in our opposition to those who defy the living God.

Mighty God, thank you that the Lord Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lamb who was slain, has conquered all the powers of darkness. Thank you that we share in his victory. Help us by your Spirit to be bold in the battle you call us to fight against all that opposes you and your saving purposes. Help us first to bring every thought of our own hearts into subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Misselbrook