Friday, June 20, 2014

Human Wisdom Versus God’s Power

Matthew 11:20-30

“Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-22)

Bethsaida was the home of Philip, Andrew and Peter.  Chorazin was only about three miles away, just north of the Sea of Galillee.  Tyre and Sidon were ancient Phoenician cities in present day Lebanon.  Baal worship had been their main religion for many years, yet Jesus said that if the same miracles had been done in Tyre and Sidon as had been done in Chorazin and Bethsaida, the people would have repented long before. 

“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” (Matthew 11:23-24)

Capernaum had received perhaps more of Christ’s miracles than any other city, they flocked to bring him sick or crippled and demon possessed people but did not accept his message.  Jesus said that if the same things had been done in Sodom, the people there would have repented and the city never have been destroyed. 

Sadly, those who know least about God are often more ready to listen than those who know most.  Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah and Egypt heeded Ezekiel’s warning to surrender to Babylon in 565 BC, when The Jews refused.  As a result, the prophesied destruction of Nineveh and Egypt did not occur, but the Jews were killed.   People today are no different, presuming on God’s love and ignoring his righteousness.

“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.  Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Matthew 11:25-26)

Jesus thanked God that he had made things so simple even the simplest could understand them, although those who were more sophisticated and better educated considered them too simple to be of value.    Those who consider themselves smarter or better than others seem to believe that if their inferiors can believe something it must be wrong.  God wanted everyone to be able to understand.  It is not his fault that some think they are too sophisticated to believe it. 

“All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)

Understanding of who God is or who Jesus is can come only from God.  God has revealed those things to Jesus, who reveals them to others as he sees fit.  In John 6:65, Jesus said, “…Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”  According to I Corinthians 2:14, humans are incapable of understanding these things without God’s intervention.  “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  As a result, John 6:44 says “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

No amount of human explanation or emotional or psychological appeals can produce understanding or salvation.  Paul was concerned that emphasis on these things would produce a false faith based on human wisdom.  In I Corinthians 2:4-5 he said, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”  It is troubling that today so much emphasis is placed on college degrees and motivational speaking.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Fulfilling the standards of the Jewish law in order to please God was a burden no sinful human could ever meet, even when they modified the interpretations to suit themselves.  Human flesh could never consistently overcome the power of sin.  Fortunately God accounted for that as Romans 8:3-4 t3lls us.  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” 

Christ has done all the hard work for us, and now he just asks us to believe him.   While we ought to live according to the standards God has set, our salvation does not depend on our success.  Much of the pressure has been removed.

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