Scripture: Luke 24:45, NIV
People have varying opinions about what is happening in our society. A lot is happening: The perpetuation of “The Big Lie.” Protests. Press Conferences. Gun violence: police shoot unarmed Black men and boys; public attacks and shootings of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI); a man had a bad day, so he went to a grocery store and shot and killed innocent people; and disgruntled employees shot and killed their managers and co-workers and themselves.
As I read Facebook, Twitter, newspapers, and emails, as I listened to news reports on the television, radio and social media, as I talked to family members, friends, and strangers, each person’s comments is filtered through the lens of his/her experience.
Some are outraged! Others are exhausted! Many are fearful! And all agree that enough is enough! You agree that enough is enough! Enough gun violence! Enough injustices! Enough people dying from the Novel COVID-19 virus! Enough systemic racism! Enough economic inequities! Enough domestic killings, hatred, poverty, and foreign wars! ENOUGH!
Since we are fed up with negativities, give us more positivities. Give more love! Give more tolerance! Give more compassion! Give more faith and hope! Give more understanding! GOD, please, OPEN OUR MINDS to see others as your see them!
It’s still the evening of the first day of the week — Sunday evening — the day of Jesus’ resurrection. There was a lot going on in Jerusalem: Jesus was crucified and dead. His body was missing from the sealed tomb. Mary Magdalene said she saw Jesus alive. The Jewish religious leaders were looking for Jesus’ disciples to kill them, too. So, the followers of Jesus hid in a room behind a locked door.
Two men on the road to Emmaus encountered Jesus. When Jesus was at the dinner table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. Jesus vanished. The two men got up and ran back to Jerusalem to tell the others. While they were talking about all that happened, Jesus stood among them and said to them,“Peace be with you.” They were all both startled and frightened. Peace? How can we have peace in the midst of all that is going on? Peace?
As Jesus stood among them, he asked them three questions: (1) “Why are you troubled?” (2) “Why do doubts rise in your minds?” and (3) “Do you have anything here to eat?”
Jesus knew their emotional and mental state of mind. So, he asked them, “Why are you troubled?” Didn’t they remember what Jesus told them as recorded by John in 14:1: “Let not your heart be troubled.”
I once heard Bishop T. Larry Kirkland say this about John 14:1-6 – Jesus gave the disciples the antidote for a troubled heart. To paraphrase him, depend on your faith, depend on your friend, and depend on your future.
Depend on your faith: Believe God. Trust God. Believe in God. Believe Jesus. Trust Jesus. Believe in Jesus. Believe and hope that things will get better. I feel sorry for someone who does not believe in God. They live as one without hope. Put your hope and trust in God!
Depend on your friend. Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Jesus won’t lie to you. He told the disciples, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Indeed, we have a friend in Jesus. Greater love has no one that this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend (John 15:13). Jesus is a friend you can depend on.
Depend on your future. Jesus told his disciples “I go to prepare a place for you.” Our future is as clear as our faith. Our presence ought to be inspired by our past. The disciples had no reason to be troubled, because Jesus was with them.
“Why do doubts rise in your minds?” Jesus knew they were filled with doubt because he knew they were afraid. He especially knew that Thomas had doubts. So, he dealt with their doubts. He gave them tangible proof of his identity. Listen! Look! Touch! Believe!
Fear and doubt cannot co-exist with faith. If you have faith, you are able to overcome fear and doubt. Some people are afraid to fly — not because of COVID-19. Some people were afraid to fly before COVID-19. When flying, the law of gravity doesn’t cease to exist. By all means, that plane should not be able to fly in the air. What happens is the law of aerodynamics takes over.
The same with our lives. Fear and doubt do not cease to exist. What happens is you decide that God’s love and your faith in God takes over. You believe that without faith, it is impossible to please God.
The Jewish religious leaders were afraid of Jesus’ potential influence with the people. So, they killed him. The government was afraid of Dr. King’s potential influence with the people. So, they killed him. Many people are afraid of the Black man’s potential influence with other people of color. So, they kill his seed.
Stop doubting and second guessing yourself. See your potential. Others are afraid of your potential. There’s not enough room in your mind for fear and doubt and faith. You must decide which one will reside there. Having problems deciding? Pray and ask the Lord, “Increase my faith!”
“Do you have anything here to eat?” In the context of the scripture text, the disciples gave Jesus a piece of broiled fish to eat. Jesus ate it to prove to them that He was very much alive and in a human body. If He were a ghost, they would have seen the food floating in His transparent body. The question, “Do you have anything here to eat” (using my sanctified imagination) could spiritually be rephrased to “Do you have any spiritual food to eat?” Just as physical food nourishes the mind and body, spiritual food nourishes the mind and soul.
The disciples forgot about the devotional on the word of God — Psalm 119. The Psalm emphasizes God’s Word as the word of life. The Psalm draws attention to God’s directives for life, which calls for obedience. The Psalm prioritizes God’s promises, which calls for faith.
A person whose mind is filled with the junk food of doubt, fear, worry, and depression is starved and will suﬀer severely. The person with the malnourished mind feeds on the wrong types of food — the junk food of lies, deception and divisiveness. When your mind is malnourished, it produces racism, sexism, and all types of schisms, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, hatred and prejudices.
Don’t be the person who says one thing in the crowd and another in the other crowd. You lie and the truth ain’t in you. Be careful. Don’t let devil use you. What are you eating? “Do you have anything to eat?” Get a nice plate of God’ s word and feast on it. It’s nourishing for the body, mind, and soul.
After Jesus dealt with their obstructions — things that kept them from hearing and receiving what Jesus came to reveal to them, Jesus opened their minds. The three questions were the three keys that unlocked their minds.
In college, I took a Physics class. This class had two parts, theory and lab. For some reason, I could not understand the theoretical part of the class, but the practical part – the lab – was a breeze. When I received by grade for this class, I failed the theory, but I received an “A” in lab. How could this be? I was an “A” student!
I discovered my mind’s eye was closed. I could not understand the concept of three-dimensional space. In my mind, I could not understand the x, y, and z planes. So, I made a physical model. I told some paperclips and soldered them together. When I looked at this physical model, when I touched the physical model, my mind’s eye opened and I understood. I repeated that class and received a “B” in theory and an “A” in lab.
Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures [The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms]. They understood how the Scriptures foretold of the Messiah in all three sections. Jesus explained the Scriptures to them just like he explained it to the two men on the Emmaus Road.
Some people’s minds are blocked! They are encumbered by emotional trauma, bound by bad beliefs, fettered by fears, chained by generational curses, and paralyzed by passed–down prejudices.
Some people will remain blocked and clogged. But, if you want to change, there is power in the presence of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in a relationship with Jesus. There is power in the Word of God.
If you want to move forward in life, allow Jesus to open your mind. If you want to move forward in life, allow Jesus to open your heart. If you want to be used by God, let the love of God flow into your heart so that he can change your mind and your thoughts and your heart. Just like God opened the sealed grave that contained Jesus’ body, God will open your closed mind!
Lord, open our minds! Lord, open our hearts! In the name of Jesus, Amen!
The Rev. Dr. Mary S. Minor is the senior pastor of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church in Los Angeles.