Do you get heartburn? When does it usually happen? Are you excited to get it? If not, it may be because we're talking about two different kinds of heartburn. Naturally one kind of heartburn is unpleasant, and usually follows something we eat. I'm not talking about that kind of heartburn.
I'm talking about the kind of heartburn that follows Bible reading. Do you get that kind of heartburn? You do if you're reading it right. Yet, I suspect few professing Christians experience heartburn. I suspect few know their bibles well enough to even know what I'm talking about. For those of you in the know, you'll probably agree to having heartburn. To those who aren't in the know, you're probably wondering what in the world I'm talking about. I'll let you in on it.
On the third day after suffering death by crucifixion, Jesus rose from the grave. Some women came to the tomb only to discover Jesus wasn't there. Two angels spoke to them of his resurrection. No sense in looking for the living among the dead, after all. So the women rushed back to tell the disciples, who thought the women were speaking folly.
Now two disciples were walking to Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, discussing the events surrounding Jesus. As they were walking along, a stranger came up and began talking to them. He prodded them about their conversation until they shared with the stranger their dashed hopes. "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21). As they continued to bare their hearts to the stranger, he could no longer stand the dejection, the negativity, the hopelessness, the foolishness, the desperation. 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:25-27).
The stranger turned out to be the resurrected Christ. What did the resurrected Christ talk about to his doubting, hopeless disciples? Himself. He didn't talk about them. He didn't talk about those dirty, no good Pharisees. He didn't talk about the cruel Romans. He didn't talk about his faith-lacking disciples. He claimed the entire Old Testament as a prequel to himself. What was the result of this first Christian Bible study? Heartburn.
"'They said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?'" (Luke 24:32). So, I'll repeat my first question. Do you get heartburn? Have you ever been dejected, depressed, wondering how to make sense of life? Have you leafed through the Scriptures for an answer to your issue, only to wonder why this verse didn't help, and that verse didn't help? Have you stopped there, resolved to a life of half-heartedness? Then you've not had heartburn.
Heartburn is when you come to Scripture, pounding up against it, begging it to unlock the key to your hope. As you meditate on the Word of God, you find your heart burning within as Christ is revealed in its pages. Christ, your Righteousness. Christ, your Shepherd. Christ, your Provider. Christ, your King. Christ, your Banner. Christ, your Inheritance. As you see the glory of the risen Christ revealed over a period of thousands of years in Scripture, you can't help but be excited.
Romans 15:4 tells us everything written in former days was for our hope. Jesus tells us that everything written in former days was to explain himself to us. If we lay these two texts over one another, we see that Scripture testifies about Jesus. And Scripture gives us hope. In other words, Scripture gives us hope by testifying about Jesus. The revelation of the centrality of Jesus Christ is the most hope-giving, heart-burning reality in the universe - for those who can stay at the table long enough and stomach it.