Revealing the Father, through the Son, To Babes
The end of Matthew 11
“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. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’”
How many people have that last part memorized? How many memorized it in the King James? But did you know the context? Here, we conclude this chapter of the life of Jesus, where he has sent out his 12 chosen disciples, gone out to the cities, spoken to John’s disciples, compared his generation to people who don’t dance to the flute and reproached the people of the cities for not repenting. Now, though in the same context, Jesus slightly switches styles. His tone changes and part of this is revealed as he speaks to the Father, notice; “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.” We also begin to see an ever-increasing divide between the walk of Jesus, the true Israel, and the walk of the nation Israel. Up until this point, Israel’s walk, foreshadowed the walk of the messiah, only everything that they failed to accomplish, Jesus fulfilled. This pattern continues, however the paths diverge because Jesus is doing it right, they did it wrong. This will be made manifest in chapter 12 when his disciples plucked heads of grain on the Sabbath and ate them. But we’ll get to that, Lord willing. The point is the path. Jesus is the true Israel and Matthew displays this fact fabulously. We simply weren’t taught it, therefore we’ve never noticed it. Unless you are learning for yourself, you only know what you have been taught. I guarantee that at least one of the two of you have memorized the last two verses of Matthew chapter 11, but did not recall the context, or possibly never even knew the context. The only reason I write is to promote sound Bible studies.
The best way I found to do that is to use the CAGED method, Context, Aspiration, Genre, Examples, Divide. If we don’t consider these things, we keep the Scriptures caged. Therefore, let’s proceed with today’s text remembering to take our vitamins C, A, G, E, D; context being the most important. All other principles follow the context. And today’s context has been unfolding since Jesus sent out his 12 disciples.
“At that time.” Jesus had finished rebuking the people of various cities for their unrepentant hearts, at that time indicates that everyone was still in the same place, at the same time–more on this later. “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.” Now, for those that memorized the last part of today’s text in the King James, did you happen to memorize the first part as well? I didn’t think so. The reason I ask is not to shame you, though it does point out our lack of context considering, but I ask because the King James is actually a better translation of the verse. It reads, “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.”
Thee, thou, and hast are not the reasons why the King James is a better translation, but the word, answered. It’s closer to the original Greek and it reinforces the context. For example; if this were a separate scene, to what or whom is Jesus answering or responding? In the original Greek, it’s almost impossible to take these verses out of context. The fact is, Jesus is responding to himself, responding to their unresponsiveness. Remember, the children played the flute in the marketplace and no one danced. It is essential to see the scene Matthew presents in not only chapter 11, but his entire composition. Think about it this way, if certain verses, which were only added later and only for ease of reference, are worth memorizing, how much more worthy is the whole? Context is king and we’ve got us a whole lot of context to consider!
All of the context in Matthew chapter 11 is intrinsically important and woven together–it is a single scene. It may have taken course over several days and many people may have come and gone, some never to return. The context allows for this, but how long it took and how many people weren’t there for its entirety is immaterial. Matthew painstakingly paints the picture of one continuous event, his grammar and choice of vocabulary codify into a systematic story. One example is the Greek word translated into, “at that time.” A more literal translation would be something like, “at that perfect time.” Yes, at the perfect time Jesus responded and said, “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.” And he did this in front of the people who remained after John’s disciples had departed. You remember the ones–they were unresponsive and unrepentant. Yet there is another group of people there.
The “little children,” “infants,” and “babes,” are some of the ways in which the Greek has been translated. Are we to take this literally or is Jesus using figurative language from that time? If one traces back the origin of the Greek word, one will find that it literally means, “not speaking.” And now we are getting somewhere. A very quick dose of vitamin E; Paul uses the same word, νήπιος in his letter to the Corinthians, “when I was a νήπιος I spoke like a νήπιος, thought like a νήπιος, reasoned like a νήπιος.” Literal or figurative, remembering Paul is using simile? Also remember that νήπιος literally means, not speaking. So literally when Paul was not speaking, he spoke as one not speaking. Don’t feel badly, I confuse myself sometimes. The point is we take things too literally. According to the context, the Father and Jesus chose to reveal him(selves) to the simple–Bible scholars beware! Again, look at the context.
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to (not speaking) little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’”
There seems to be some contradiction here, for instance, Jesus chooses to whom to reveal the Father and yet calls anyone who labors to come to him, but you’ll receive no unfruitful, Calvinist debate from me. I take Jesus at his word, which he has been revealing for a thousand years. Notice the highlighted portion in the context, it’s a quote from Jeremiah chapter six. For time’s sake I will forgo the writing of it but I encourage you to read it, it is quite on point.
The reality with which they, and we, must contend is that Jesus is “the exact representation of the Father.” Which brings us back to the little children. Scholars, theologians, Bible experts and the like–did they come before the Lord as little children? Do they speak as one “not speaking?” The Bible is not rocket surgery, I assure you, it’s written by the simple man for the simple man. It’s written so that those who labor and are heavy laden will find rest. And the rest is not rest from work, or workings it’s rest from works of self-righteousness-but that’s a whole other missive. This is quite simple, the smart are stupid and the stupid are smart–I believe Paul speaks of this in Romans.
I was told today that my missives are too deep and that was gut wrenching. That is the absolute last thing that I want to be told. I want to hear that I have shown the simplicity of the Bible. It’s incredible to me, that on the exact day that I am writing on how God revealed himself to the little, not-speaking, simple-minded children, I am considered, too deep. So for that, I apologize. I will try to do better. If I come across as some sort of Biblical scholar, I assure you that is the farthest thing from my pathetic attempts at teaching the truth. To be honest, I don’t consider myself a teacher, but rather, one screaming from the mountain top to consider the context. It’s the opposite, in fact–me, the absolute nobody who’s writing, is proof that the Lord chooses the simple-minded and gives them gifts. Ask me to write or speak on anything but the word of God and you will find out just how simple-minded I am.