If we sit back in our chair and honestly contemplate the scope of the church, we find ourselves somewhat bewildered. It is clear that God’s agenda in and through the church is to showcase His manifold wisdom: “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10). At the same time, there are many people with tremendous influence and ability who are not believers. Do you ever wonder why God has chosen to pass by some with so much “promise” only to give new life to others?
This did not flummox Jesus. In fact, it was an occasion for Him to heap praise upon His Father for such a demonstration of wisdom:
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Matt. 11:25–26)
In this section of Matthew, Jesus lets us peek into His prayer closet to overhear this beautiful intratrinitarian dialogue. And as we do, we hear Jesus thanking His Father for the wisdom of what He has decreed in His hiding and revealing. He has hidden things from the wise and revealed them to the children.
The “things” that are either hidden or revealed are the content of Jesus’ teaching. Let’s remember that He has just unleashed a blistering critique upon the religious leaders. These were the wise, learned, and respected people of the day. The fulcrum for rendering the judgment was what they did with His teaching. They rejected Him and therefore showed their foolishness. On the other hand, Jesus is surrounded by His disciples. These same disciples would likely be labeled religious misfits by the esteemed cultural elites. In sharp contrast, they are the babes, those who humbly receive His teaching like a child.
Jesus is praising God for His wisdom as it is displayed in this very scene. God does not need the wisdom or power of men to make Himself look good. He will show His wisdom in the apparent foolishness of the message and the demonstration of His grace (1 Cor. 1:18–31). Of course, this does not mean that it is impossible for intelligent people to be converted. Throughout church history, God has chosen to showcase His grace in saving all kinds of people. However, when God saves someone, it is never their wisdom or accomplishments that save them but rather their simple, child-like faith in the truth of the gospel.
Rev. Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Neb.