Hearing is one thing. Understanding is a deeper thing.
As the wonderful reunion continued and the Peace of Christ ruled in that house, Jesus kept teaching. Now there was a different dimension to the teaching of Jesus. There was also a deeper reach within their minds of the things Jesus was saying. They were carried by some inner force beyond simply hearing to understanding. So many times before Jesus’ death and resurrection, they listened carefully to the Words of Jesus but they seemed to slip away from their minds. They had no theological fingers to grasp and hold what Jesus was telling them. On this night, all of those hindrances were gone, swept away by the Blood of a New Covenant. What was different?—The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. The Paraclete, the Divine Helper, whispered in their hearts as Jesus spoke, just as He does today when we read the Word of God.
Jesus opened the Scriptures to them, showing them how all the horrible events they had witnessed were foretold. Like a gigantic puzzle, the various pieces supplied by the prophets assembled themselves into the overarching plan of God. There was great peace in this revelation. Events were not random. The Plan of God was not some emergency scheme for a deity caught unawares by unforeseen events. Everything was foreseen! All was in the plan of God, revealed in the Word. The ancient book was suddenly new! Beyond the thrill of these revelations was the realization that Jesus had chosen them; each of them—men and women alike in an unprecedented equality of purpose—had a part in the unfolding of God’s plan. I can imagine eyes shifting from individual to individual wondering how it could be so and yet knowing that it was so. I can also see eyes shifting inward to examine each heart—how could it be so? And yet it was so; they were beginning to understand.
To All Nations
Jesus shared with them the true dimensions of their mission. So much of their energy had been spent in and around Jerusalem and throughout Israel. The Plan of God was bigger than Israel, much, much bigger. It was true that they must begin in Jerusalem but this was to be only the beginning. The pagan nations surrounding them, though all held together as an empire through Roman might, also had a part in the Kingdom of God. Somehow their enemies must become objects of their love, a love like that of Jesus, for all people. Gentiles must no longer be seen as enemies but as rightful members of the Kingdom of God.
Repentance and Remission of Sins
What Jesus had just done was the key. By a “new and living way” He opened up the way of salvation for all people, Jew and Gentile alike. The Kingdom of God would now be more than a single nation, but a new nation for all who believe. Now there was a solution for sin, a New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus. All can be forgiven. All can receive the Abiding Presence of the Spirit to empower victorious, Christ-like living.
The Promise of the Father
How could this new Kingdom be theirs? Only one way: by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus called this, “The Promise of the Father” and it was to be their first order of business. He told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Promise came to them.
Hearing is one thing. Understanding is a deeper thing. They heard Him and they understood.
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
Hebrews 10:19-25 NKJV
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Ephesians 2:11-18 NKJV
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to as death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Lord Jesus, thank You for leading us the way You do—with understanding, not as brute beasts. Thank You for the Paraclete, the Divine Helper, Who comes alongside us to give us understanding. Help me to find the dynamic center between following You by obedience and faith when I do not understand why and following You when You give me a heart to understand why. The important thing is to follow you, whether by faith or by understanding, to live out Your commands every day. Holy Spirit, enlighten my path today! Amen and Amen.
Holy Spirit, Truth Divine
Words: Samuel Longfellow; Music: Orlando Gibbons
1. Holy Spirit, truth divine, dawn upon this soul of mine;
Voice of God and inward light, wake my spirit, clear my sight.
2. Holy Spirit, love divine, glow within this heart of mine.
Kindle every high desire, purify me with your fire.
3. Holy Spirit, power divine, fill and nerve this will of mine.
Boldly may I always live, bravely serve, and gladly give.
4. Holy Spirit, law divine, reign within this soul of mine.
Be my law, and I shall be firmly bound, forever free.
5. Holy Spirit, peace divine, still this restless heart of mine.
Speak to calm this tossing sea, grant me your tranquility.
6. Holy Spirit, joy divine, gladden now this heart of mine.
In the desert ways I sing – spring, O Living Water, spring!
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.