Monday, September 10, 2012

Contradictions - Matthew 11:15-30

25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have reavealed them to infants.
26 "Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.
27 "All tings have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Before starting with verses 25-26, let's remember the context.  Jesus just listed off some "Woe to you"s about unrepentance.  With that in mind, as well as another passage from 1 Corinthians we'll look at in just a moment, the "these things" that Jesus refers to, then, is the mystery of salvation.  In other words, Jesus is saying something along the lines of, "Father, the 'religious' who had the greatest opportunity to recognize Me have rejected Me, so You gave them over to their hardness of heart.  But at the same time, you opened the door for the 'unreligious,' those who know nothing of your Law, to understand My message so fully!  For that, I praise You!"  Another key point to remember here is that, throughout both the Old and New Testaments, one of God's key plans for this earth is to bring the Jews, His original chosen people back to Him (and, in fact, that's prettymuch the whole point of all the crazy stuff that will happen in the End Times). So, the "infants" (that is, the infants spiritually - those who had no knowledge of God's Law, the Gentiles) are given great spiritual revelation in part to shame the Jews into returning to God. Now, let's look at 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, the definitive passage on this topic (in my opinion), to shed some more light on this.
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
20 Where is the wise man?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to those who believe.
22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;
23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
29 so that no man may boast before God.
30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."
Obviously, we could go a lot deeper into this passage if we wanted to, but for now, I'd like to just point out on other element besides the one we already covered (If you want to talk about it more, though, start the conversation in the comments section!): Looking at it from the outside, the Gospel seems ridiculous.  I mean, come on - what kind of God would be willing to be tortured and die for stupid, sinful humans?  His love for us is wholly illogical, if you think about it!  And because of that, we will be mocked, and we get to see God taking down the pride of those who are so devoted to arriving at truth, yet refuse to accept them when it's right before them, because that truth would require them to humble themselves, and admit that they can't fix their lives on their own.
Alright, moving on to verse 27... It may seem a bit cryptic or vague at first, but all it's saying is that Jesus is the only way to God.  People can't do it through their own righteousness, through enlightenment, through being generally spiritual, or through any other faith system.  You're likely familiar with John 14:6, which states this explicitly, without room for any other interpretation: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes ot the Father but through Me." That. Is. It.
Finally, let's look at the oft-quoted verses 29-30.  Throughout our study of Matthew, we've come across the topic of persecution a lot, so it's refreshing to run across one of the more comforting verses in the Bible.  But did you notice something about this verse?  You still have to wear a yoke!  Jesus said that His yoke is light, not that you don't have any yoke - any burden - at all.  In other words, let us not forget our burden, but we can also rest in the assurance that this burden is totally worth it.  I quote Romans 8:18 a lot on this blog: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us [in heaven]."  And one last thing about this verse - "learn from Me."  As we work through Matthew, let's not treat it like just another biography of a really inspiring dude - instead, let us examine how Jesus lived, and purposefully set out to live the same way.
Today's post was a bit shorter that usual because the next chunk of Scripture, Matthew 12:1-21, deals with a BIG topic that will take a lot of attention - the matter of Christians practicing the Sabbath.  We'll spend lots of time on that on Thursday. :-)
I don't have any official discussion starters for today, but did anything from today's passage jump out at you?  Or is there anything you'd like to ask?
Image: "Spring Training" by Brian Boucheron.  Used by permission.

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