The Divine Spirit and the Human Understanding
Luke 24:45
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

It may be that we do not sufficiently recognize the very intimate connection between our human intelligence and the action of the Spirit of God. We may be seriously in danger of coming short in gratitude for all that God has wrought for us in this respect, and in prayer for his continued and especial help in the future.

I. THE DIVINE ENDOWMENT WITH WHICH HE STARTS US ON OUR COURSE. We receive from his creative hand a kind and a measure of intellectual power which may be said to valor with each individual of the human race. To one he giveth five talents, to another two, to another one. And it is not only difference in measure, but also in kind. The human spirit has many faculties, and one man has a large share of one and another a goodly share of another, "as it pleaseth him." Most happily for us, there is every possible variety of human understanding resulting from the different capacities and dispositions with which our Creator endows us,

II. THE BENEFICENT LAW OF EXPANSION HE HAS ORDAINED FOR US. The law under which we live, and under which our understanding grows, is this - "to him that hath is given." We observe, we hear and read, we reflect, we reason, we construct and produce; and as we do this, we grow - our intelligence is opened and enlarged. Thus by the operation of one of his wise and kind laws God is "opening our understanding" every day, but more particularly in the earlier days of curiosity and of study. Youth has but to do its rightful and proper work, and God will do his gracious, enlarging work; and thus he will "build up" a mind, well stored with knowledge and wisdom, capable of great and noble service.


1. God has given to members of our race illumination or expansion of mind which we pronounce miraculous, i.e. not in accordance with known laws. Such was the inspiration he gave to Moses when he inspired him to write his books; or that he gave to Samuel, to Elijah, to Isaiah, to Zechariah, when he moved these prophets to remonstrate with or to exhort their contemporaries, or to write words that should live for all time on the sacred page; or that he gave to these two disciples when he opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures as they had never understood them before; or that he gave to the Apostles Peter and Paul and John when he prompted them to speak as they spoke and to write as they wrote. Here was an altogether unusual and supernatural enlightenment and enlargement of mind granted for the special purpose of making known his mind and will to the race of man.

2. God still imparts special illumination to us according to our need and in response to our prayer. The "age of miracles" may be past, but assuredly the age of Divine illumination is not passed. God remains, and will remain, in constant communication with his human children; he has, and ever will have, access to their understanding; he can touch and quicken us, can enlarge and equip our minds for special service in his Name and cause, can make clear to our minds those things which have been obscure, whether in his Word or in his providence, so that we can "understand the Scriptures," and also interpret his dealing with ourselves and his fashioning of our lives. Three things become us.

(1) A sense of our own insufficiency - insufficiency both for comprehending what we are called upon both to consider and (as far as may be) to understand, and for doing the work of explanation and enforcement which is required of us.

(2) Faith in God - in his observation of us; in his interest in our humble endeavours to take our part and do our work; in his power over us to "open our understanding" as well as to "open our heart" (Acts 16:44; see Ephesians 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:7).

(3) -Prayer for Divine illumination. Lacking wisdom, let us ask of God, "who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not (James 1:5; see Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 1:16, 17). Whenever we read the Scriptures that we may learn the "mind of Christ," whenever we stand up to speak in his Name, when ever we set ourselves to any effort that requires spiritual wisdom, we do well to pray in the spirit, if not in the language, of our great poet -

"Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me; for thou know'st:... What in me is dark,
Illumine! What is low, raise and support!" ? C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

WEB: Then he opened their minds, that they might understand the Scriptures.

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