An open and shut case is a court case, legal matter, or problem that is easy to decide or solve because the facts are clearly known or plainly obvious to all.
But, the scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, are not an open and shut case. The truth within them is not clearly known and plainly obvious to all. There are problems and questions in the Old Testament that are not easy to solve or answer.
So, instead of being an open and shut case, the scriptures are a shut and open case. In a fascinating way, the gospel of Luke reveals just this to us. But, Luke’s gospel also reveals the one who can solve and answer the difficult problems and questions of the Bible for us – Jesus.
An angel of the Lord came to Zechariah and told him that he would have a son that would be great before the Lord and turn the hearts of the children of Israel to God. But, Zechariah doubted the word of the angel. So, the angel told Zechariah, “And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place.” (Luke 1.20) In other words, Zechariah’s mouth was shut. But, when everything that the angel told Zechariah would happen happened, “immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed.” (Luke 1.64)
What had been shut was now open.
She was a virgin. Her womb was shut. But, after Mary gave birth to Jesus, their time for purification came. So, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord. Luke 2.23 says they did this because “as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.'”
Take the heavens.
They were closed. But, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened.” (Luke 3.21) The heavens could not have been opened at Jesus’ baptism if they were not closed before it.
Take the door.
Jesus tells a parable about a man who goes to a friend at midnight asking for three loaves. The friend tells the man not to bother him because the door is shut. But, Jesus is that door. “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11.9-10)
Luke repeatedly tells us of things that were previously shut that have now been opened. This is an important theme throughout Luke’s gospel as each shutting and opening foreshadows the final opening of what was shut in Luke’s gospel.
So, take the scriptures.
They were shut to everyone. No one understood their true meaning.
Even the disciples did not understand the scriptures. Because of this, Jesus said the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were slow of heart to believe all the prophets, meaning the scriptures, had spoke. So, Jesus taught them from Moses and all the prophets about himself, how it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and enter into his glory.
Jesus simply teaching these two disciples where he was in all the scriptures did not reveal the true meaning of the scriptures to these two. The answers to they had were still hard to come by. The case was still shut and not open.
But, Jesus broke bread and gave it to them.
In other words, these two disciples experientially shared in the suffering of Jesus. They symbolically received the broken body of Jesus and ate it.
“And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 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 24.31-32)
After doing this for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus did it for the other disciples as well.
“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'” (Luke 24.44-47)
Over and over, Luke shows what was shut is now open.
By the end of Luke’s gospel, the shut and open case of the scriptures has been solved.
The difficult problem of understanding the truth of scripture was solved as the disciples shared in the suffering of the Christ.
Jesus solved the shut and open case of the scriptures for us.
Jesus opens that which has been shut.
Jesus, and only the suffering of Jesus, can open our minds to understand the truth of scripture.