READ: Psalm 96, Amos 8, Luke 24, Galatians 2
Abiding helps us understand. Post-resurrection two disciples are walking the Emmaus road, discussing the strange events surrounding the death and alleged resurrection of Jesus. “While they conversed and reasoned . . . Jesus Himself drew near and went with them” (Luke 24:15). The verse is obviously literal but it also has spiritual significance. Jesus does not abandon us in the reflective process; Jesus walks with us as we wrestle with the difficulties of life in the faith. The scriptures burn into our hearts as Jesus opens them to us (v. 32), but it is the presence of Jesus that illumines our heads. Jesus was made known to these intellectual travelers “in the breaking of bread” (v. 35). The disciples asked Jesus to abide with them (v. 29) and the result was understanding. It is the presence of Jesus that illumines us.
Doubt makes us foolish. Belief makes us wise. The un-Spirited academic is at a disadvantage when his skepticism leads him to a doubt orientation. Today’s hero is the one who doubts everything. Biblical heroes are those who trust God for what they don’t understand. Biblical mysteries are not things we can’t possibly understand; they are eternal and beautiful realities given to us by revelation. Biblically, doubt and skepticism are not virtues; they are handicaps. The more we doubt the more, we become blind. The more we trust, the better we see. As Anselm put it: “I believe this also, that ‘unless I believe, I shall not understand.’” It is the burning presence of Jesus in the heart that clears the fog of wrong thinking in our heads and makes us wise.
A Jesus-centered epistemology (how we know what we know and distinguish justified belief from opinion) posits that wisdom and understanding are byproducts of intimacy, not intelligence. Wisdom through the ages is derived from the nearness of Jesus. When Jesus abides in us and we in Him, we have the resources to understand all things–whether or not we draw from those resources is up to us. As we journey down our confusing roads, we have the opportunity to walk with Jesus. Jesus’ presence is what empowers us to make sense of the world. Abiding in Jesus causes our hearts to burn, our eyes to be opened, and our understanding to be empowered. On the Emmaus road Jesus is asked this unintentionally humorous question: “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have not known these things?” Jesus must have smiled to Himself, for then as now He’s actually the only one who DOES know–and it is by walking with Him that we come to understand.