by Denise McDowell
If you are familiar with the two disciples who after Jesus had been raised from the dead on the same day were headed to Emmaus you will remember that when He first appeared to them they did not know who He was. As they were talking about the events of His death and now the report that had come back from Mary, Martha, Peter, and John that Jesus was in fact alive, Jesus comes and joins them in the midst of this conversation. He then begins to explain to them from the Old Testament Scriptures the things concerning Him.
As they came to the village Jesus indicated that He would have gone on but they convince Him to stay with them that night. There was something going on in the hearts of these two that was undeniable and they wanted to know more. As He then sat with them to eat He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and then gave it to them. Immediately their eyes were opened and they knew it was Jesus. He disappears and they then make this powerful statement in verse 32. “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
There are two powerful things revealed here that will help us in our relationship with the Lord. I hear Christians say they want to get to know God intimately, but I find they are struggling in doing so. The word “burn” in this verse means to kindle, be set on fire, consumed with. This is what God wants in the heart of every believer. If we are on fire and consumed with God we are going to have that intimate relationship He desires with us. The first of these two keys is that they having Him present with them and talking with them brought a stirring in their hearts. It goes without saying that when we spend quality time in the presence of the Lord we will get closer to Him.
But the second point is often overlooked and is actually the easiest way to begin developing an intimate relationship with Jesus, and with the Father through the Holy Spirit. It says that this fire was kindled as He “opened the Scriptures to them”. The Bible is an amazing book, and is supernatural in its origin. There is no other book in the world like it. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we find out that all of Scripture is inspired by God, or actually what it says in the Greek is that they are God-breathed. When God created man He breathed into man the breath of life. After the fall when Jesus was raised from the dead Jesus breathed on His disciples that breath of life once again and they received the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures have God’s DNA in them. God and His Word are one.
John 1:1 says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 says: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
The reason this is so important is because God has provided for us in the 66 books of the Bible the ability to get to know Him, intimately, and personally. In John chapter one we know that Jesus is considered the Word of God. As verse 14 states the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The written Word reveals to us the Living Word.
This is important to understand because of two reasons. Many believers say they want to know God better, and all they have to do is open the Word of God to do so. I will explain more about the importance of how this is to be done in a minute. The second reason this is important is because today there are believers and unfortunately preachers who are saying the Bible isn’t that important; but God and His Word are one. To say the Word isn’t important is to say God isn’t important. Some would argue that they can get to know God intimately without the Word, but this is what leads to error in our beliefs about God because people lack understanding of the Word.
Those who make the argument that the 12 disciples didn’t have the Word and they got to know the Lord intimately don’t realize that first of all they did have the Old Testament Scriptures that revealed God to them. Secondly, they had the Living Word Himself with them personally for 3 years. I like a quote I heard from Smith Wigglesworth who had a very close relationship with the Lord. It goes as follows:
“I can’t understand God by feelings. I can’t understand the Lord Jesus Christ by feelings. I can only understand God the Father and Jesus Christ by what the Word says about them. God is everything the Word says He is. We need to get acquainted with Him through the Word.”
The great part about understanding this is I know many who are trying to get to know God through prayer alone and they are having a difficult time doing so. Think about how accurately the average believer hears God’s voice. How are you going to get to know God without being able to hear Him clearly? You get to know people by talking with them, learning what they like and what they don’t like. Learning about their character traits, what motivates them, what they enjoy doing, etc. So it is with God, but that is very difficult to do apart from His Word.
John 5:39 says: You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
Now back to my first point it is important how we approach the Word if we are to get to know God. The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day studied the Old Testament scriptures and they did not have a close relationship with God as Jesus states before this verse, but Jesus did not say to not go to God’s Word for the Scriptures are that which testify of Him. They thought the way into eternity was based on having to prove oneself worthy by studying God’s Word. But you can’t prove yourself worthy; it is only by receiving Christ that are you made worthy in God’s sight. What they did not do is come to the Scriptures with a focus not on self-righteousness, but instead getting to know the God who could make them righteous.
So today we have people who still do spend a lot of time in the Word of God and yet like the leaders of Jesus’ day they don’t know Him intimately. They are not coming to the written Word to get to know the Living Word, but instead are just filling their heads with a lot of knowledge and they are missing the relationship that is offered. Then there are those who say the Word isn’t that important because I can get to know Him on my own, I don’t have to read the Bible. That is not what God’s Word teaches and this is where people then get mislead into believing things about God that are not true. Such people begin to base their beliefs on their experiences and not on what Scripture says about God. This is only going to lead people into error.
John 8:31 says: So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples.
John 8:32 says: And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
Jesus Himself states that we are to abide (live in and by) His Word, His teachings if we are truly His disciples. How can you do that if you don’t know what Jesus taught? You cannot live in the Word only by listening to what a minister of the Word teaches. Remember, Jesus is the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. We also know the Word of God is Truth. If you spend time abiding in the Word with a focus on getting to know Him, you will know Him for He is Truth, and He (the Truth) will help set you free from the things of this life trying to take you captive. One of the number one things that cause this is lies and deception. If we don’t’ know the written Word, we won’t know the true Living Word, and we will fall for lies about Him that are not true.
Psalm 119:130 Your word is a doorway that lets in light, …
In John chapter one Jesus is also referred to as the light that came into the world. This Psalm is telling us that God’s Word is the door, that when opened, will let the light (Jesus) in. God’s Word is the door into fellowship with the Lord. Remember the hearts of the disciples were set on fire for Him as He “opened” the Scriptures to them. You have the opportunity to open the door allowing the Lord to fellowship with you. All you have to do is open the Word of God and read it as God speaking with you and to you. Allow Him to reveal who He is through His Word.
We should spend two-thirds of our time in the New Testament because this is our covenant with God. Then as you read the Old Testament you can interpret it in light of the New Testament. Don’t get caught up in thinking you have to read 15 chapters a day. As you open the Word it is more important that you hear what God is saying. It is quality time in the Word that counts, not reading the Bible just to say you read so many chapters today. As you open the Word and fellowship with the Lord your heart too will begin to be ablaze for more of Him!