Opened Minds (Luke 24:44-53)
Rev. David French

As we come to another Ascension Day, we’re reminded of at least three things that we’re taught in the Scriptures. First, Jesus as our prophet continues His work of proclaiming His Gospel through us who are His body. Second, Jesus as our priest, who is now seated at the right hand of God, has promised to be our mediator with God. And third, Jesus as our king continues to rule and protect His church. 

While Christ may have ascended from us with His physical body, He has now joined that very same body and blood to bread and wine where His true and real presence is still found. That means Jesus ascended not to leave us, but to make Himself available to more of us in a sacramental union that could only be brought about by the power and promise of God. 

There’s no doubt that this is difficult to understand, but it would be impossible to believe, were it not for the lesson that we’re taught in our reading this evening. As we continue in this Easter season, we are again reminded that as important as understanding is, it is faith in Christ alone and His sacrifice for our sins that saves us from the threat of the grave. 

One of the things that we find as we look at this lesson is that there is a big difference between an open mind and a mind that has been opened by Christ. It’s that difference that I would like consider with you this evening. An open mind, as it’s most often defined today, can mean a lot of different things. For the most part it’s used with the idea of being open to all kinds of ideas. Ideas that challenge what used to be thought of as simply the truth. And while I certainly recognize that times have changed, I don’t believe the truth has. For that alone, much of society and even a portion of Christianity would put me in the hateful, closed-minded category. 

Just to give you some quick ideas of what I mean, I believe that only women can conceive a child. Abortion is murder, not a right. I do not believe that a homosexual lifestyle is without consequences - it is sin, no worse than my own sin; but like my sin, when there is no repentance or desire to change, it brings condemnation. I don’t believe that we can do whatever we want with our bodies because they are not our bodies, but as Peter records, we have been purchased by the blood of Christ. Having an open mind, as most people use that term, is really just another example of where being wise in our own eyes will lead us. It leads to what we see and live in today. 

Being open-minded, it seems, can be a very dangerous thing. The danger is that when we replace God’s truth with a lie, for any reason - and we can certainly come up with some good and, in our minds, valid reasons – we’re denying with our actions the things we say we believe with our lips. 

We’re turning away from God and the path of faith that He has chosen for all people, a path that leads to the cross of His Son and the forgiveness for our sins. We often find that when we trust our wisdom, we often walk the path of least resistance which, while it may be well-marked and easier to walk like the wide road in Matthew’s gospel, leads to our destruction.

On the other hand, we can clearly see from our lesson the result of having not an open mind, but of having our minds opened by Christ. First, we see that we will understand the Scriptures, and what we’ll understand is found in the very next verse, “that Jesus Christ came into our world to suffer and die and that He would rise from the dead on the third day.” Why He did this is simply a matter of love; love for you as His child, not because you’re so good, but because He is. 

It's through the resurrection that you and I can know that God the Father has accepted the sacrifice offered by His Son, and the price for all sin has been paid in full. What comfort this Good News offers to us as we’re assured that all who are in Christ are the forgiven children of God. It’s that truth that we continue to proclaim, not only with our words, but with our entire lives. We proclaim it not because we have to, but because God the Holy Spirit continues His work through the same word to open our minds. 

You and I could certainly sit here this evening and just take in the goodness of our Savior who has gone to prepare a place for us in heaven and who could blame us. But if that’s all we do, we’re missing the point that God’s love is not for us alone, but His love is offered to everyone. We must always keep in mind that unbelievers are no different than we are, except for one thing: God in His mercy has worked faith in our hearts through the Gospel that someone, at some time, shared with us. 

So, enjoy and even bask in the light of God’s Son, because it is a beautiful thing! But don’t stop there. Take the light that you’ve seen and live in it. Share it with those still living in darkness. You, our text says, are witnesses of these things. Share what you have and what you know, that in Christ there is life, and that life is the result of the forgiveness that He earned and is freely offered to you until the day we are all in heaven with Him.

In His name, Amen.