The Old and New Testaments (B)

This blog continues the series dealing with the Bible and scriptural issues.  It began with the 1st blog:  Reading the Bible Means Opening a Treasury.  The immediately preceding blog is  The Old and New Testaments (A).

The resurrection appearance of Christ in Luke 24:13-35, has 2 disciples discouraged and leaving Jerusalem following the crucifixion of Christ.  Though they heard a rumor of Jesus being seen alive after His death, they know not what to think as their hopes were dashed by His crucifixion.  The disciples did not anticipate the resurrection of Jesus, they obviously didn’t believe in it before it happened, and were not looking for it.  Even when they encounter the risen Jesus on the road walking with them and talking to them, they don’t recognize Him.  It will be only after Jesus explains to them from the Scriptures about the necessity of the Messiah suffering and dying that they will come to recognize Him.    By enountering the Word of God through the Scriptures they comprehend by faith that Jesus is God the Word become flesh!

 [Luke 24:25] Jesus said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” [27] And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus appears to be discouraged by His disciples’ own lack of understanding.  Jesus explains about Himself to the disciples from Scriptures.  (Note:  Jesus does not explain all of the Scriptures to the disciples, but only those parts which concerned Himself – the prophecies and prefiguring).  It is the Old Testament Scriptures which bear witness to Christ, and it is Christ who fulfills and gives meaning to the words and prophecies of the Old Testament.

 [Luke 24:30] When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. [31] And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. [32] They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”

It is in the breaking of the bread and in Christ “opening” the Scriptures to the disciples that they recognize Him.  Personally seeing the risen Christ did not help them recognize Him or have faith in His rising from the dead.   It is the Scriptures and the Eucharist in which they find their hearts open to Him, and experience Him as truly risen.  It is the experience of the Eucharist and the proclaiming of the Scriptures which is still available to each of us who believe today.  The disciples had no advantage over us in coming to faith for they came to faith in the same way we can – through Scripture and the Eucharist.  The personal encounter with Christ was not enough in itself to bring them to faith!

“You have heard the account of the two disciples who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus and yet did not recognize him.  When he met them, they had lost all hope of the redemption that is in Christ, they were convinced that the Master was dead like any other man, they did not realize that Jesus inasmuch as he is Son of God was still alive.  According to them he had left this life without being able to return, like one of the many prophets.  Then the Lord revealed to them the meaning of the Scriptures.  Beginning with Moses and quoting one prophet after another he showed that everything that he had suffered had been foretold. … Yet the Lord did not consider it was sufficient to allow them to touch him.  He wanted to appeal to the Scriptures to confirm their hearts in the faith.  He saw us in anticipation, who had not yet been born, who do not have a chance to touch Christ but do have the opportunity to read about him.  … On what base shall we build our faith, unless it be those Scriptures with which the Lord wanted to confirm the faith of those who touched him?  He revealed to them the meaning of the Scriptures and showed how it was necessary that the Christ should suffer and should fulfil all that had been written about him in the books of the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms.  The Lord went through the whole Old Testament.  He seemed to span it all in his embrace.  The Scriptures are in fact, in any passage you care to choose, singing of Christ, provided we have ears that are capable of pricking out the tune.  The Lord opened the minds of the Apostles so that they understood the Scriptures.  That he will open our minds too is our prayer.”   (St. Augustine in DRINKING FROM THE HIDDEN FOUNTAIN, pp 311-312)

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