How do we know when something is true? We hear someone make a statement. We read a section in a book. How do we test the truth of what we are hearing or reading?
A couple of Jesus’ disciples were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus discussing the events in connection with Jesus’ trial, execution and reports that he was alive. Jesus joined them in their walk, though they did not recognize him, and engaged them in conversation, asking what they were talking about. When they told him, he said, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all of the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures about himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)
As they approached Emmaus, they asked Jesus to stay with them, and as they began dinner they finally recognized him as he broke the bread and offered thanks. Immediately, he vanished from their sight. They said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
It takes Jesus and the Holy Spirit to open our minds to understand all that the Scriptures hold for us. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, I met Jesus one October evening many years ago on a country road, and he brought renewal to my life and gave me an intense desire to read Scripture. Over the next several months I read the Bible from cover to cover as I commuted on the trains in and out of New York City each day. Sometimes the words would seem to leap off the page with understanding and insight. My heart would burn within me as the truth of God’s Word and action became evident to me. His Word has since “become a lamp to my feet.” (Psalm 119:105)
It is Jesus and the Holy Spirit who help us discern the truth of what is being said in Scripture and what we hear and read from other sources as well. Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” We know truth when our hearts burn within us – a litmus test given us by the Holy Spirit.