“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” (Matthew 11:25). Jesus speaks of a knowledge of Father revealed only by Jesus to those chosen by him (v. 27) and of things being easier with him as a result (v. 30). To appreciate Christ’s point of view, let us recall the context of these remarks.
First, from prison John the Baptist asks Jesus if he is indeed the one sent by God to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 11:2-6, see also Matthew 3:11). Jesus replies that he is bringing healing and wholeness to the blind, lame, leprous, deaf, dead, and poor.
So unexpected is the way of Jesus that even his herald John is uncertain whether Jesus is God’s man. We may assume that the actions of Jesus in our own midst remain so unexpected in nature that we too may discern and affirm them solely as Jesus allows us to. We too otherwise remain confounded by Christ’s resolute compassion.
Second, even people sympathetic with John failed to appreciate his true significance as herald of the Kingdom of Heaven coming with the presence of Jesus (Matthew 11:7-15).
Third, the majority of people holding a conventional worldview failed to appreciate the true significance of either John or Jesus. To them, John seemed too severe; Jesus, too indulgent (vs. 16-19). Jesus goes so far as to denounce the conventional population of three cities for their blindness in failing to recognize the presence of God’s kingdom in their midst despite even his compassionate miracles (vs. 20-24).
To all this conventional blindness to the presence of God’s kingdom, Jesus responds with a prayer of gratitude. In doing so he continues to act in unexpected ways. He praises Father for hiding his wisdom from the wise of this world.
The wise of this world are those who best embody the conventional worldview which is based on the false gods of Olympus: powerful politicians (Jupiter), high-ranking soldiers (Mars), successful CEOs (Vulcan), sexy movie “stars” (Venus), wealthy philanthropists (Pluto), and the ostentatiously wealthy (Bacchus). To them, the wisdom of Jesus—vulnerability, love, character, discomfort—is foolishness. To appreciate Christ’s wisdom, and to discern his presence in our lives, we need him to break the spell of conventionality under which we labor.
When he does disenchant us, as only he can do, it is as if we awaken from a stupor. We find ourselves with a much greater awareness of our true situation with one another and before God. We are liberated from our falsehoods—the lies, half-truths, illusions, and self-deceptions—that kept us bound to the gods of Olympus and in cruel competition with one another for their favors.
Once our heads clear, we find Christ’s yoke—our freedom—much easier to bear. Mischievous witness to Christ, which in the stupor of our folly seemed so burdensome, instead becomes our joyful participation in Christ’s kingdom here and now (v. 30).
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