Their Eyes Were Opened
A Biblical Study for the Easter Season
Based on the Gospel of Luke
The sixth week of Easter 2016 (May 1). For this page in PDF format click on the title.
Easter 6 by the Rev. Dr. John Lewis
I. LISTEN to the audio interview or read the transcript below. The interview is based on the following verse from today’s scriptural passage: “Then he opened their mind to understand the scriptures.”
Question for reflection: Can you tell a story about how you stay alive to the scriptures (an ongoing practice of scriptural reading and interpretation that is lively for you)?
Listen to a reflection by Marthe Curry, director of the Department of World Mission for the the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.
or Read Marthe’s reflection here A Daily Habit by Marthe Curry
II. READ and STUDY the Scriptural Passage:
Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their mind to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Commentary on the Passage:
Throughout the course of these resurrection appearances, Luke emphasizes that the presence of the risen Christ takes place when two or more disciples are together and talking about Jesus (see also Matthew 18:20). They “recognize” the risen Christ in the course of discussing and interpreting their experiences with one another. This occurred as the women at the tomb recalled certain words Jesus spoke during his lifetime, as the disciples recognized him in his practice at their common meal together at Emmaus, and as he was opening the scriptures to them on the road to Emmaus.
In today’s passage, we see a combination of these same experiences taking place. Jesus reminds the disciples of his earlier words that the scriptures about him must be fulfilled, and then he interprets the scriptures about himself and opens their mind to comprehend them.
Notice in v. 45 that Jesus opens their “mind” (singular) to understand the scriptures. The translations in most if not all modern Bibles suggest that Jesus opens their “minds” (plural), as if he were separately opening the mind of each individual disciple who is present to understand the scriptures. Instead, Luke suggests that it is in the course of their community conversation that Jesus opens the one mind of the gathered community to understand the scriptures about him in particular ways.
What might this say to us today? Possibly, when we gather as a Christian community, or even when we convene a smaller group Bible study, we should be asking ourselves what the passage means to “us” collectively in light of our common life together, rather than asking what a passage means to “me” or to “you.”
III. RESPOND to the following questions:
• Find the connections between the interview and the biblical story.
• Are there any connections between the interview and your story?
• Can you describe a recent time when, during the course of a Bible study, your group arrived at a consensus about the meaning of a specific passage or the meaning of a particular life experience presented by one of the group members? Did that interpretation reflect where you or other individual members of the group expected to end up when your conversation first began? In what ways did the discussion of the group shape the final consensus on interpretation?