Summary: July 7, 2002 -- SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST -- Proper 9 Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 Color: Green Title: “Being “Wise and Learned” vs. “Humility.”
July 7, 2002 -- SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST -- Proper 9
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Title: “Being “Wise and Learned” vs. “Humility.”
Jesus teaches that he is the way to the Father and that the way to him is the humble way.
Chapters eleven to thirteen, are largely concerned with those who reject Jesus. Verses, 11: 25-30, provide three sayings, wisdom sayings, of Jesus, about those who accept Jesus as the bringer of God’s revelation or Wisdom. The first saying, verses twenty-five to twenty-six, is a confession of praise and thanks to God for giving revelation in the first place, opening it to all and not restricting it to a self-styled elite few.
Side bar: This is also found in Luke 10: 21-22 and, thus, comes from “Q.”.
The second saying, verse twenty-seven, is a confession of the special relationship of Father and Son and how only the Son can reveal the Father to others, thus sharing that relationship. This saying is also found in Luke, coming from “Q,” though it bears great similarity to the language and thought of John. The third saying, verses twenty-eight to thirty invites those outside the circle of Jesus to come to his “school,” and learn the unique brand of wisdom he alone offers. This saying is found only in Matthew, coming from his special source dubbed “M.”
The pattern is clear: 1) vv. 25-26 are a thanksgiving for revelation (wisdom);
2) v. 27 gives the content of that revelation in a nutshell; and
3) vv. 28-30 invite those humble enough to be open to it to receive that revelation.
The first saying, the prayer of thanks and praise, and is structured like a typically Jewish prayer of praise and thanks in the Psalms. First, God is addressed, then thanked or praised, and then the reason for doing so is given.
Side bar; Though, “typically Jewish,” there is hardly any other way to thank anyone than saying, “So-and-so, thanks for whatever.” Jesus is clearly behaving like a wisdom teacher here, even as he asserts that the content of that teaching is himself. Wisdom became “personified,” that is, perceived and taught as though it were a person, long before Jesus came on the scene Proverbs 8.
In verses sixteen to nineteen, Jesus places His concept of Wisdom in contexts, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
In verse twenty-five, at that time: The word for “time,” here is not the Greek chronos, tick-tock time, but kairos, opportunity time. Jesus chose to interpret all the opposition against him and his message as an opportunity to praise and thank God nonetheless, in spite of the opposition, and to contrast what he was offering with what the Pharisees and scribes were offering.
Father: Occurring sixty four times in Matthew exceeded only by John with one hundred thirty seven instances, this typical way of addressing God, the Lord of heaven and earth, as Father, reveals God not as some remote tyrant, but as a loving parent.
I thank you: In the context of a prayer the verb exomologeo can be translated as “give thanks,” “praise,” or “confess.” Thanks and praise are virtually indistinguishable. While Jesus recognizes the Father’s greatness because he is creator, he especially appreciates the way God has made his revelation known.
You have hidden these things from the wise and learned: The sense here is not that God actively hid himself, but that something in humans prevents his presence from getting through or being seen. Jesus describes that “something,” as being “wise and learned.” This is clearly a reference to the scribes and Pharisees who fancied themselves as experts in religion, professional religious. However, it would also include anyone like the inhabitants of the unrepentant cities in 11: 20-24, who has disabled him or herself by pride.
To infants: Like children, Greek nepioi, “infants,” who lack any social standing or expertise, in religious matters, and unlike the “wise and learned,” disciples who hear and perceive what Jesus is saying and see what he is doing are the really “wise.”
In verse twenty-six, such has been your gracious will: It is not that some dim witted people happened to stumble upon the truth and that smart folk missed the point, but that God planned things this way. He never intended intellectual acumen to be a prerequisite for “knowing,” him.
In verse twenty-seven, All things have been handed over to me by my Father: The relationship implied in verse twenty-five, is spelled out. There are no secrets between Father and Son. The Father has withheld nothing from the Son but shares with him all power and dominion.
No one knows the Son except the Father: “Know,” carries the Semitic meaning of personal knowledge as opposed to merely intellectual apprehension or understanding. This is spelled out much more in John than in the Synoptics, although Matthew hints at it again in chapter sixteen, verse seventeen, when Jesus notes that Peter’s confession of him as Messiah could have only been revealed to him by his Father.