Faith Precedes Understanding – Seeing 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?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” – Luke 24:13-35
The theme of this devotional series is to develop a greater understanding of biblical, saving faith. We’ve been unpacking three crucial steps every person must take in order to be assured he or she has genuine faith accompanied by real spiritual understanding. The first step is to hear the word of God within your heart. Second, you must believe in Jesus within your heart. The third step is actually a response, or effect, that takes place after you have heard and believed in your heart. Once you truly believe, you will begin to see with the eyes of your heart.
St. John of the Cross once said, “Faith tells us of things we have never seen, and cannot come to know by our natural senses.” That’s what the two disciples experienced in verse 31 above: “Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” Genuine biblical faith is born in the heart. Paul writes in Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” When you confess something with your mouth, you are simply declaring what you believe to be true with your mind. But the Bible says belief must go beyond the head to the heart.
Active commitment, or trust, is born in the heart. According to the Bible, “heart” includes your mind, will, and emotions – the place deep within your soul where all values and beliefs are formed, the place where faith is born. It is in your heart that you make real commitments, and that is why God says you must believe in your heart. It is the combination of these two ingredients, knowledge and active commitment in a person’s heart, that results in saving faith. You believe with your mind and then commit with your heart. With your heart, you say to God, “I’m all in!” Obviously, you cannot fool God – He sees your heart. So let me ask you: What does He see when He looks into your heart? Does He see genuine faith and true commitment?
One of the privileges I enjoy in ministry is observing as faith is born in a man’s heart. About four years ago, I began to lead a group of eight to ten men in Bible study at my office on Friday mornings. I have seen God’s Word burn within their hearts, and I believe the Lord has opened the eyes of several of them over the past year. There is nothing more rewarding than to watch as the Lord opens a person’s spiritual eyes. How is faith born in a man? It is entirely the work of God, but God always uses His Word to pry our eyes open. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Amen.