He opened their minds
Then Jesus told the disciples, "This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled." He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this."
Ihave a Bible question for you. Where in the Bible are these words to be found: Here comes the dreamer, Let us kill him, and then we will see what becomes of his dreams? You may remember it from school or from the musical and film, called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. In the Book of Genesis, we find the story of Joseph. He is the favourite son of Jacob, and his eleven brothers are jealous of him on that account. He has a dream in which he sees his brothers bowing down before him, and he is foolish enough to tell them the dream. They plot to kill him. When they see him coming they say, ‘Here comes the dreamer; let us kill him, and then we will see what becomes of his dreams.’
What becomes of his dreams?
There is a plaque on the wall of the small hotel in Memphis, where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. On it these words are written, Here comes the dreamer. Let us kill him, and then we will see what becomes of his dreams. In his most famous speech Martin Luther King repeated several times, ‘’I have a dream.’ His dream was for his country: that all discrimination would end and all its citizens would be equally cherished. Joseph’s brothers thought they could prevent his dreams being fulfilled, and the assassin in Memphis thought he would put an end to Luther King’s dream, but neither succeeded. It is striking that words written a few thousand years ago in the Bible could sum up the life and death of a particular person in our times.
You see how it is written.
On Easter Sunday evening Jesus stood among his disciples. They were astonished to see him alive. When he had convinced them that it really was himself, he helped them to make sense of the two extraordinary events of the previous days: his awful death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter morning. To do this he ‘opened their minds to understand the scriptures.’ He showed them passages in the scriptures - what we now call the Old Testament - that described and made sense of the very things that had just happened to him. Words from the ancient scriptures made sense of things that happened in the present time.
The disciples put that understanding of the scriptures to work from then on, even before Pentecost while the one hundred and twenty were waiting and praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Aware that Jesus had chosen twelve apostles and that Judas had betrayed him and was now dead, they remembered two psalms that described their present situation. Psalm 69 described the treachery of a man who betrayed his leader, and it went on to say,
Let his house become desolate
and let no one live in it.
They saw that this had happened to Judas. Psalm 109 said,
In return for my friendship, they denounce me,
though all I had done was pray for them,
they pay me back evil for kindness
and hatred for friendship.
Let his life be cut short,
let someone else take his office.
It was clear to them that someone else must take the place of Judas; they nominated two candidates and chose Matthias.
In the present time.
The disciples knew that what was written in the scriptures applied to Jesus in a unique way, but they saw that they applied to themselves as well. The same is true of us today. When the Lord opens our minds to understand the scriptures, we recognise that what is described in the Bible happens in our lives and world in the present time. When we meditate on a particular passage in the Bible we allow it to show us where it is happening today in our personal lives, in our families and communities. I will finish with an example to show you what I mean.
I was with a group of people who were reading the story of the man who leased his land to tenants and afterwards sent his servants to collect the produce. The surprise in the story is the hostility of the tenants who beat up and killed the servants. The story seemed to have nothing to do with anyone in our group until it dawned on us that we all hold on to the produce of our lives, the things we worked hard to produce, and we get angry with anyone who comes to take them from us. One lady said that a relative with small children came to stay with her for several weeks. Gradually they took over the house and the only place she could call her own was her bedroom. She watched in horror as the children marked and dented ornaments and furniture which she had gathered over a lifetime. She was living this Gospel story; it was costing her a lot to give up the produce of her life.
Prayer Psalm 119
Your will is wonderful indeed;
therefore I obey it.
The unfolding of your word gives light
and teaches the simple.
Let your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.