WISDOM & UNDERSTANDING
Reading: Luke 24v13-34
Text: Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Very simple summary: God must be the driving force behind our Instinct and our Intellect.
Illustration: How many people know that water can be highly explosive?
TV Fire Service Demo of Chip Pan Fire. Man; Fire resistant suit and helmet – like a space suit!
Instinct – put it out quickly.
Instinct – Water puts out fires.
Instinct – pour water on the burning oil.
Result: the water becomes an explosive charge!
Recount the demo result and explain how water explodes.
Intellect – automatic reaction can be dangerous.
Intellect – stop and consider the options.
Intellect – remember what we have been taught.
Intellect – Act on sound judgement.
Those with knowledge and right resources – use the fire blanket to smother.
Those without the resources or knowledge – shut the door get out and call the fire service.
The message today: Awe and reverence of the Lord is the true foundation of wisdom. Revelation and first hand experience of God in His entirety (three persons) brings true understanding and discernment in all matters of practical and spiritual life.
We must allow God to be the driving force for our Instinct and our Intellect.
Back to Reading: Luke 24v13 to help us expound the concepts involved from a real life situation.
v13. Now behold two of them were travelling that same day to a village called Emmaus.
Behold or Lo: Greek: idou id-oo; means ‘take notice, pay attention carefully’.
That same day: Jesus had risen – they didn’t believe it – they acted on basic instincts centred only on what they saw and understood from immediate circumstances.
Travelling to Emmaus: Emmaus in the original Hebrew means Warm Springs.
What better way to escape the stress and feelings of disappointment and hopelessness than to go off to the sports centre or health club and have a nice relaxing sauna, jaccuzi, or steam bath? It unwinds you and you can forget about all your problems, for a short while.
But reality always returns and has to be dealt with eventually.
v14-15: And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned,
What were these things?
- The trial, crucifixion and then the loss of the body of Jesus.
- That they expected Jesus to take over as King of Israel and push the Roman occupying forces out of the land and restore the Kingdom to Israel.
- That these expectations were in ruins and the Kingship and Divinity of the Lord Jesus were thrown into doubt or even discarded completely.
They talked together; they communed together. You can imagine the talk? Pretty negative stuff!
Imagine it – they believed they were all part of a political and even a semi-military coup.
Apparently this had been a total failure – would they be next to be crucified – they were literally ‘on the run’ and heading for exile.
In v14 the Greek word translated talk is the same word translated commune in v15.
This was no ordinary conversation, but a deep sharing of disappointment, frustrations, heavy feelings, fears, uncertain expectations, dashed hopes, and a very uncertain future.
They reasoned. They questioned and examined everything to do with past events and their frustrated hopes. Not just a detatched discussion but an intense deep examination of it all.
Their whole lives had been involved with Jesus and the promise of His Kingdom; their whole future was now in jeapody because of the apparent failure.
In all this they followed their own instincts and relied on their own understanding. They needed a fresh viewpoint; they needed God’s perspective on events.
v15-16 THE SPIRITUAL ENCOUNTER
What these two disciples perceived as a total failure and a terrible disaster, was in eternal reality all part of God’s eternal purposes.
How often have you been in a similar situation? Everything gone wrong, plans frustrated? Maybe health is failing, or an accident, or whatever. You don’t understand anymore. You pray and pray sincerely but still there seems no response from God?
Read Psalm 44v18-26: The concerns of Israel as a nation but also the personal cry of the Psalmist and the cry of many who can’t see God in their predicaments.
Psalm 121v4: He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Listen to this (v15): while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
In every situation, problem, disappointment, frustration, adverse circumstance, illness, mistake, emotional upset, whatever our concerns and failures might be – Jesus, by His Holy Spirit draws near to you.
When the heavens are like brass and it seems your prayers don’t get past the ceiling, Jesus has still drawn near.
Trouble is: like these two disciples, you may not perceive it or realise He is already there.
Drew near: Greek Aorist tense, no equivalent in English, the verb is usually interpreted as being unrelated to time, past present or future.
You see, Jesus is already there in your problems, then you suddenly perceive His presence as did these disciples, and He is going on forward with you into the future minutes, days and weeks. Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
Dr M Vincent in his word studies of the New Testament says: Went with – The use of the imperfect (tense) here is very beautiful. Jesus drew near while they were absorbed in their talk, and was already walking with them when they observed him.
Even so; their eyes were restrained or holden (av). Eyes metaphorical for faculty of the mind. Closed minds, tunnel vision, Jesus was dear and his body vanished – the risen Lord was just like a mere stranger along the road.
Know: recognise or thoroughly acknowledge. How often is it we don’t properly recognise the Lord’s overruling sovereignty in some event or setback? How often is it we don’t acknowledge the Lord’s presence in our infirmities and difficulties?
v17 CHRIST’S CHALLENGE
What kind of conversation could this be?
Manner of communication: the AV translates the word logos!
Makes a vital point: with what words will you address your difficulties, your perplexities, your lack of understanding of any situation or person? Will they be your logos? Or will you look to THE Logos of God; the living Word of God in John 1v1, whose words come to us for every situation in the living words of the BIBLE?
Jesus caused them to give an account of their limited understanding at that time; he made them search their hearts and minds and reasoning. He caused them to recall all the events and their reactions to them. THEN he began to give them a wider perspective; a heavenly and eternal perspective on all that had taken place.
This came straight from the Scriptures and was interpreted to them, explained to them – that’s what exposition means – by the Lord Himself. As they sat and listened you can image the brilliance of the fresh light and realisation of discovering such momentous truth in the scripture. The revelation brought with it new vision, wider horizons and fresh direction. Suddenly the past defeats became the foundation of a great eternal victory.
When we’re spiritually challenged to stop our shortsighted reasonings and really consider our situation from the widest possible perspective; then the eternal perspective, of God’s wider purposes can be known. Maybe it’s only a faint glimpse outside our self-centred reasoning that there are greater powers and purposes involved. Maybe it’s just an impression that our wisdom is inadequate and our knowledge grossly incomplete.
Whatever, the extent of our understanding, or lack of it, the challenge thrown out by the Lord Jesus is this: will you try to reason from your own self centred understanding or will you seek The Logos, the Word of God, and find true wisdom and security for yourself?
v31 NEW VISION; FRESH UNDERSTANDING
Their eyes were opened and they knew him The Greek for open is dianoigo dee-an-oy’-go which means to draw aside what had been closed, to open the mind and the understanding.
Only with an open mind can we recognise the hand of God in difficult situations.
Only with open spiritual eyes can we ever hope to know anything about the wider purposes of God when everything around appears to be going wrong.
Suddenly these two disciples knew the Lord had indeed risen. All they had before was a very flimsy knowledge about The Resurrection as written by the prophets and hinted at by Jesus when he was alive. That wasn’t sufficient – they could only try to reason things out and of course their human understanding was inadequate. Now they knew by the experience and reality! They had actually seen and recognised the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
He vanished out of their sight He ceased to be seen by them. How often is it we get a bolt of enlightenment, a sudden revelation and almost instantly it fades or seems to slip from our minds before we can grasp hold of it?
All we’re left with is an impression of what transpired.
Here, before they could embrace the Risen Lord, he slipped out of their sight. But the revelation remained, the impression was still there. The Lord had indeed risen.
This revelation transformed their whole understanding and outlook. They became like new men, with a new vision, and a new fire within.
v32-34 A FRESH MOTIVATION
Did not our hearts burn within us? The heart means the centre of all physical, pshchological and spiritual life; our innermost being. When Christ speaks by His word into the depths of our soul, it lights a fire. The Greek for fire (kaio kah’-yo) means exactly that; to set on fire.
What a transformation for these two disciples when they had their wisdom energised by the Lord.
What a difference in outlook when their understanding was opened to heavenly dimensions.
It all came through the scripture being explained by the Spirit of the Risen Lord.
Such a transformation can be yours and mine today.
With greater insight comes greater responsibility. It requires action. These disciples didn’t just remain where they were, continuing to reason among themselves but along new lines of thought. They didn’t just have a discussion meeting to try to get into all the details.
They up and went and did something positive. They went and found their colleagues and spread the news and the blessing; that the Lord was indeed risen. They wanted to spread the wider vision and new perspective to all who had an interest in such things.
CONCLUSION & APPLICATION
Let’s come back to our original summary: God must be the driving force behind our instinct and intellect.
You may have difficulties and problems. We all have these for much of the time.
Whatever you encounter in the future; whatever we see happening around us, in our families, in the church, in our work and in the world around us.
Your instinct will react in the natural realm to give you feelings, fears, hunches, opinions, and much more that can affect your judgement, your words and actions.
Your intellect will allow you a limited understanding that’s incomplete and even seriously flawed. You can’t and dare not rely on your own flimsy wisdom and understanding.
Come back to our paraphrase of Proverbs 9V10:
Awe and reverence of the Lord is the true foundation of wisdom (our instinct). Revelation and first hand experience of God in His entirety (three persons) brings true understanding and discernment in all matters of practical and spiritual life.
Whatever we encounter in the coming days, weeks, months ad maybe years ahead; remember these two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
- There were lessons to be heeded
- the human perspective to be overcome
- the spiritual encounter to be experienced
- Christ’s challenge to be accepted
- new vision and fresh understanding to be gained
- and a fresh motivation to be acted upon.
Will you be like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, trying to escape from reality, trying to reason in the natural, and trying to find an easy way out?
Or will you be like the disciples who met the risen Lord; had their spiritual eyes opened, their understandings widened to embrace the wider purposes of God, their hearts set ablaze by a deeper encounter in the scriptures? Their whole future was quickly transformed. They began to understand that an apparent massive terrible defeat or failure was in eternal reality a tremendous fresh opportunity for God to work out His purposes.
Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.