This blog post is the fourth (and final) of four blog posts that together consider the four verses in a September 21, 2015, article entitled “Four Prayers for Bible Reading,” by Pastor David Mathis, in which he discusses four verses to pray before one begins to open God’s Word. A link to that article is as follows (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/four-prayers-for-bible-reading ). This fourth blog post looks at the fourth verse, i.e., Luke 24:45 (ESV), which reads:
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
Pastor Mathis correctly states that the primary focus in Bible reading must be on Jesus:
This is another way of praying that God would open our eyes to wonder, just with more specificity. The works of God stand as marvelous mountain ranges in the Bible, but the highest peak, and the most majestic vista, is the person and work of his Son. .. The great goal of Bible reading and study is this: knowing and enjoying Jesus.
I believe the context surrounding verse 45 helps us to know better and enjoy the Person and work Jesus in the context of a pre-Bible engagement prayer. The relevant context comprises two consecutive accounts, which are Luke 24:13–35 (the road to Emmaus) and Luke 24:36–49 (the risen Jesus’ appearance to the disciples). In both accounts, Jesus drew near and impacted the minds of folks, who possessed some knowledge about the Person and work of Christ, but who did not fully understand what the Scriptures prophesied about the death and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah. Jesus opened their minds, so they understood that Jesus was the Messiah, according to Scriptural prophesies.
These Lukan accounts use three different Greek words that relate to the opening of one’s mind to the Scriptures about Jesus. In verses 32 and 45, the ESV translates the Greek verb dianoigō as “he opened,” and it means to explain something so someone can perceive that which had previously been either hidden or obscure.
In verse 27, the ESV translates the Greek verb diermēntuō as “he interpreted,” and it means to explain at a more extensive level the meaning of something which is particularly obscure or difficult to comprehend. In verse 45, the ESV translates the Greek verb syniēmi as “to understand,” and it means to employ one’s ability to understand to gain an intelligent grasp of or insight about a cognitively challenging subject.
These two Lukan accounts show that Jesus came alongside of people who had some knowledge about the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and then thoroughly explained the Scriptures to them so they perceived the intellectually challenging concept of the prophesied Jewish Messiah.
What was Luke’s intent in writing this passage under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Factoring in Luke 1:1-4, it seems to me that Luke wanted Theophilus to genuinely know that it takes God to fully open the mind of someone to truly comprehend the truth of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the overarching context that Jesus is the prophesied Jewish Messiah. One commentator writes along this line:
Scripture cannot be understood by the simple human mind. God has to open the mind to understand Scripture. Reading Scripture is not like any other reading assignment you might undertake. Reading Scripture must begin with a dedication of your mind and heart to God and with a willingness to listen to God as he speaks to you through Scripture. We understand Scripture only as God’s Holy Spirit opens our minds and becomes our teacher.
Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, pp. 420–421). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
How does that apply to us today concerning our pre-Bible engagement prayer life?
First, a believer’s pre-Bible engagement prayer life should include a request that God open their minds to comprehend better the infinite sacrifice Christ made on the cross for their salvation. By doing so, a believer will be better able to see Jesus in the text under study. Also, the believer’s confidence in the certainty of spending eternity with God in heaven will increase. The fact that Christ fulfills the Old Testament prophesies proves with 100% certainty the authority of Scripture, that Jesus is Who He says He is, and salvation is available through Him like what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1–5 (ESV):
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Second, a believer’s pre-Bible engagement prayer life can help them to better glean out of a passage opportunities to participate in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please note that the way to join in the declaration of the gospel can manifest itself in many forms per what Paul wrote in Romans 10:13–15 (ESV)
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
For a practical application, let me suggest the following prayer to pray before Bible reading, study, meditation, or listening:
Dear Heavenly Father, I stand in awe of You and the infinite love You display towards me in giving Your Son as a sacrifice for the atonement of my sins. I want to better know and enjoy Your Son Jesus through engagement with the Bible. Please help me to comprehend the infinite sacrifice better Jesus made on the cross and see it in the text I am studying or reading. I rejoice in the fact of Jesus’ physical bodily resurrection and the absolute certainty it gives tothe authority of Scripture and the certainty of my salvation with an eternal home in Heaven. Help me to see through the text how I can better participate in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. O, Father, may the Holy Spirit empower me to tell people about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.
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I am mindful of and respect the rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. I thus try my best to not violate any copyright rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. The below copyright permission statement is the result of my best efforts to understand that limited usage or “fair use” is available and/or to secure direct permission for specific works. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The short quotation from the Butler commentary on Luke is considered to be fair use. Used by permission.