Faith Precedes Understanding – Believing Jesus
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 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. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 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 24:13-32
This devotional series began with a question—“What does it mean to have real, biblical, saving faith?” The series title alludes to a basic premise that contradicts worldly rhetoric: In God’s economy, belief comes first and understanding follows. In the last devotion, we learned that the first step is hearing: You must hear the Word of God in your heart. The second step is believing: You must believe Jesus in your heart!
Notice the conversation that took place between Cleopas and his friend. They described Jesus as just “a prophet who was a great speaker, powerful in word, and who performed great deeds.” Their hope that Jesus was the Messiah who had come to deliver Israel was dashed when he was handed over to death. But, without really knowing why, these two friends were drawn to Jesus, so much so that they insisted He join them for dinner in their home that evening. At dinner, Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” and, suddenly, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” The result? Their hearts burned within them because, for the first time, they had true heart belief in Jesus, the Savior. As Jesus revealed Himself through the Scriptures, Cleopas and his friend experienced the first step toward true belief – they heardthe Word of God in their hearts. A few moments later, they moved on to the second step when they believed in their hearts.
These two disciples are just like many people today who attend church – going through the motions without meaning. Their religious leaders, like some of ours today, never explained to them who Jesus really is and how they can know Him and have true faith that is alive and real.
Through Finding Purpose, I get to go and teach the Bible to men who are willing to hear what Jesus has to say about Himself throughout the Scriptures. I have discovered that when men are willing to study God’s Word, they come to know Jesus and, like the two disciples, their hearts begin to burn within them. They want more—they hunger for the Word. It is a life-changing experience!
In conclusion, the steps a person must take in order to have true faith accompanied by genuine spiritual understanding are to 1) hear the word of God and take it to heart, and 2) believe in Jesus with all your heart. Next week we examine the third step. Stay tuned! Amen!