One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” [Jesus] asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:18–21, NIV 1984).
He [Jesus] said to them, “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 the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25–27, NIV 1984).
My Musings – “He might tell us that of Paul’s Church we may well see the stones, but we cannot see the church. And then we may well tell him again that he cannot see the [forest] for the trees” — Sir Thomas More, 1533. You may not be familiar with the first part of this quote, but you’ve likely heard the second part of the quote at some time or another. It means, by focusing on detail you lose perspective and miss what is important. We often do that with the Bible. We become so focused on the individual books, passages, and even terms in those books that we lose sight of the big picture. The over-arching theme from the dawn of creation (Genesis) to the consummation of the ages (Revelation) of the Gospel of Christ.
When I was young, we often spent cold winter Sunday afternoons working on jigsaw puzzles. Those were simpler and less rushed days. Fewer channels, no smartphones and no video games. I remember one particular thousand-piece puzzle of a wheat field that was particularly challenging. It became a family effort, which always helped, but the biggest help was keeping the puzzle box cover handy to refer to. You know, the “big picture” that helped us solve how the individual pieces fit together. But even then, we would frequently try to force pieces that were not designed to fit together.
We did not do jigsaw puzzles as often with my son when he was young. Time had become less simple and rushed. And of course, “video killed the [jigsaw] star.” Also, this was not something we could do as a family since, my wife Eileen lost her sight around age twenty-five. She might be able to capture the big picture in her mind but could not help with the details.
But I remember getting a thousand-piece puzzle of a Norman Rockwell painting one Christmas that my son Joel and I spread out on our infrequently used dining room table. We only worked on it a little bit at a time, so it took weeks. But the next big family dinner would be months away, so we had plenty of time.
Finally, the day came that we knew was the day we would finish it. Only to find, to our dismay, that one piece was missing. I am sure you’ve shared this experience at one time or another and know how frustrating it can be. We searched the floor, and in the crevices where the cushions of the dining room chairs met the back of the chairs. We widened our search. Perhaps our small yorkie had found it and carried it off to another room or her dog bed. Hopefully she had not chewed it up, because no puzzle is complete until that last piece is in place. As important as the big picture is, the individual pieces make up the whole. Then, after allowing what in our opinion was too much anxious time to pass, we heard this slight chuckle from Eileen. She had hidden one piece that she could put in place herself. As it turned out, the most important piece because it completed the puzzle.
My Advice – The individual pieces are necessary to tell the whole story, but don’t let them distract you from seeing the big picture. And it is, without a doubt, definitely B-I-G! “They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the [puzzle of the] Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:32, NIV 1984). May your hearts burn as well. Don’t let your piece of the puzzle go missing.