He Opened to us the Scripture
Dennis S. Parrack, Bognor Regis, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
There is something different about these occasions when we know the Lord has opened to us the scriptures.
The word given here in the KJV as ‘opened’ is not the one normally used to describe the action of just opening something. It has the wider meaning of ‘opening up fully’. But why, it may be asked, since the Lord Jesus was already said to have ‘expounded unto them the scriptures’ v. 27, was it necessary to introduce a different word here? It is suggested that the ‘opening up’ of the Scriptures as it occurred for those two disciples needs to be viewed in the light of how they themselves saw it. ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way and while he opened to us the scriptures?’, v. 32. In other words, rather than just referring to the actual happening, they were describing things as they had experienced them, the effect that the opening up had had, not just on their minds, but on their hearts too. It was even more meaningful in retrospect.
Looking back and remembering what happened and what we learned in the past can very often explain and clarify current situations. Think of those women who on the first Easter day were ‘very early in the morning’ at the sepulchre. At first ‘they were much perplexed’, but when the angels reminded them of what the Lord Jesus had told them of His pending death and resurrection, ‘they remembered his words’, their perplexity was resolved and they went and ‘told these things unto the apostles’, Luke 24. 1, 10. Remember too, Peter’s defence of his criticized activities in Acts 11. 1-2, 17, including his words, ‘Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said’. Those remembered words and who had spoken them were his justification for acting as he did.
Eight examples of the principle of ‘opened up’
There are only eight occasions when the same word meaning to ‘open fully’ is used in the New Testament and six relate directly to activities of the Lord Jesus. To ‘one that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech’, He said, ‘Ephphatha, that is, be opened. ‘And straightway his ears were opened’, Mark 7. 35. The blessing of having our spiritual hearing restored is, as with all other spiritual blessings dependent on our willingness to receive it.
That is the message included in all seven of the letters to the Asian churches. ‘He that hath ears’ meaning, he who is willing to hear, ‘let him hear’, see Rev. 2. 29. What then should be the result of having our ears opened? The Lord Himself spells it out so beautifully, ‘Whosover heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them’, the only real evidence of opened ears – ‘I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock’, Matt. 7. 24. The end result of willing and submissive obedience to what is opened up is the consciousness of assured and total security.
In the case of the deaf man referred to above, the opening of his ears led to wider blessing. ‘The string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain’. The physical defect of being dumb is often related to deafness; a person cannot hear clearly what is being said and in consequence cannot articulate to others things that he has been told. So, as James says, ‘Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak’, Jas. 1. 19. Make sure that you have heard clearly before attempting to pass on to others something which you yourself may have either misheard or misunderstood.
Another incident when the word is used is in the case of Lydia, of whom Luke says concerning the preaching of Paul at Philippi that ‘she heard us’. We read further of her, ‘whose heart the Lord opened’, i.e. fully opened, ‘that she attended unto the things spoken of Paul’, Acts 16. 14. In most societies the heart is seen as the seat of the emotions, both bad and good; see e.g. Jer. 17. 9, and Matt. 5. 8, with Rom. 10. 10. David, in extremity of spirit brought about by a series of linked sins, pleads, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God’, Ps. 51. 10, and that is what a heart opened by the Lord Jesus becomes; it is a clean heart willing now to be given to Him.
Those two travelling to Emmaus, despondent and with the very decided inference that it didn’t look much like their original hopes were to be fulfilled now, had talked with the Lord Jesus, heard Him expound the Scriptures, and yet right up to the last moment had not seen the truth of what He was saying. Now though, Scripture declares, ‘their eyes were opened’, still the same word, ‘and they knew him’. Quite how much, if anything, the apostles had told the other disciples of the events of the last supper we don’t know, but the two reported, ‘he was known of them in breaking of bread’, v. 35. That, for us today, is most likely when we are perhaps most conscious of His promised presence, and ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name’, as we remember Him in the breaking of bread.
As we see from the experience of the blind man at Bethsaida, it is not always, or often, that an individual is able to see everything clearly immediately upon conversion. At first the man had to admit that though now he could see, it was only partially. ‘I see men as trees walking’. That was certainly an improvement, where there had been only darkness there was now a measure of light. But that was not the fullness of blessing that the Lord Jesus wanted him to have, so, ‘he put his hands upon his eyes and made him look up and he was restored and saw every man clearly’, Mark 8. 22-25. A parallel example in spiritual terms is seen in Apollos. He was ‘an eloquent man, mighty in the scriptures, instructed in the ways of the Lord, fervent in the spirit, and he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord’. Now could you ask for anyone more keen, active and competent than that? But he did all of those things ‘knowing only the baptism of John’. Fortunately Priscilla and Aquila were on hand and, ‘they took him unto them and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly’. And did their exposition bear fruit? Most certainly, for now that he could see clearly the full orb of God’s salvation through the Lord Jesus, and when he reached Achaia, he ‘helped them much which had believed by grace . . . shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ’, Acts 18. 24-28.
Be willing and prepared then to have your heart ‘fully opened’, to give the Lord Jesus His rightful place. Be ready to have your ears opened to hear and your heart willingly submissive to what you hear through His word. Be ready to have your eyes opened too to see with increasing clarity just what He has accomplished for you and, even more than that, what a wonderful and glorious Person He is going to be to you on an ongoing basis. This is the greatest way to live your life for God. There is no substitute for it.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Dennis Parrack is a valued and regular contributor to Precious Seed and to other U.K. assembly magazines. After spending most of his working life in Cambridge he did two masters’ degrees, one researching Müller‘s Homes of Bristol.