FOR MANY CHRISTIANS, a moment arrives when the Bible comes shockingly to life. No longer is it a dead tome collecting dust on a neglected ledge—it has transformed into a living thing with a mind and will of its own! Before that time, understanding the Bible was difficult and maybe even frustrating. After that time, precious doctrines seem to weave an intricate spiritual lattice like the silvery threads of a spider’s web. And this plain-looking book is transformed from a collection of ancient writings into a newly found stack of long-lost letters from God Himself. The substance of the soul is then changed like the heart of an orphan who discovers for the first time the diaries and writings of her father.
Some people, for one reason or another, have a hard time feeling this affection for Scripture. For them, the Bible is just another ancient text to be dissected like a biology specimen, but with no sense of passion stirred within their hearts. Like the multiplication table or a spelling list to memorize, Scripture holds no delight. Those intricate theological connections and patterns are never impressed upon the soul; the heart is unmoved.
The “Opening” of Scripture
The twelve disciples seemed to have this pedestrian or distant view of Scripture. Although they probably studied the Bible as children, knew Jewish ceremonial laws and regulations, and could recount in detail the stories of their favorite Biblical heros, Scripture did not appear to “come alive” to them. Their eyes were closed to the glory and truths of God’s Word.
Then, one day, the precious moment arrived.
While Peter and some of the disciples were walking from the empty tomb perplexed, depressed, and likely skeptical of Christ’s resurrection, Jesus came beside them and asked, “What are you talking about?”
The disciples, not recognizing Jesus, incredulously replied, “Are you the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what happened?”
The beautiful irony, of course, was that Jesus was the only person in Jerusalem who knew exactly what had happened!
After the disciples gave a quick recounting of Christ’s death and reported resurrection, Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. And for the first time, for each disciple, a cog in the great machinery of the soul was put in its assigned place like the last piece of a complicated clock. With a confident and satisfying click, the gears of insight and passion were set into a ballet of motion. The dead timepiece was now whirling and spinning in the carefully choreographed, well-oiled Dance of Life. Something was happening!
The disciples described this sensation this way: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Like Christ’s resurrection from the dead, Scripture—which was once dead in the lives of the disciples—was suddenly living, breathing, and burning within the convictions of these simple fishermen and tax collectors. They delighted in its glory. They were mesmerized at the hand of God moving like a mighty wind through the tides of human history. They were awestruck by the exquisitely detailed prophecies of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
The threads were connecting, the dusty Book now had a living voice, and God’s love letters were finally and joyfully found.
They were never the same again!
Father God, our prayer is that you open the wonders of your Word to our lives. Let the Bible pierce our souls, convict our hearts, and cause us to revel at the glory of your work of redemption in history and in our current lives.
When I Survey (original melody)
NOTE: This is the original melody written by Lowell Mason for Isaac Watts. The Irish melody is also wonderful.