Our Knowledge of God
We must never forget that our knowledge of God is a gift, not a given. What I mean by this is that we all too often presume that what we know of God is either something we gained by self-exertion, dedication, and study, or it is something we deserve, perhaps something that is our by right or entitlement. We should never treat the knowledge of God as a given. It is something He gives, and He does not give it universally. This is nowhere better seen in our Lord's words in Matthew 11.
"At that time," begins v. 25 of Matthew 11. At what time? Evidently, immediately following our Lord's denunciation of the people in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for their calloused indifference to the presence and power of the Son of God in their midst (vv. 20-24). It would have been easy, even understandable, for Jesus to get discouraged 'at that time.' After all, the very towns in which he was most well-known and performed his greatest miracles had treated him with utter apathy. They simply didn't care. If ever there were a "time" for complaint, this was it. If ever there were a "time" for bitterness and resentment, this was it.
But instead, Jesus gives thanks! He praises the Father! He delights himself in the reassuring fact that God is sovereign, that all things are under divine control, and that nothing, not even the stubborn unbelief of men and women can frustrate His purposes. The world's disdainful response was undoubtedly a source of pain to Jesus, but the Father's sovereign purpose was a more than sufficient remedy. As Bruner has said,
"Somehow and somewhere, behind and above a discouraging world, stands a poised Father, completely in control and utterly unfrustrated. . . . To believe that human beings are the final arbiters of history is inevitably to become a whiner rather than a thanker" (430).
A. The Revelation vv. 25-26
1. the Son's praise v. 25a
2. the Father's purpose v. 25b
The "things" which the Father has "hidden" from some and "revealed" to others would probably include the significance of Jesus' miracles (vv. 20-24), the content of his teaching, who Jesus is, and especially the knowledge of the Father himself (v. 27). "God's mysterious sovereignty," notes Hagner, "lies behind both belief and unbelief, yet without obviating the culpability of those who fail to believe" (318).
It is an important theological lesson for us to note that our Lord's emphasis in vv. 25-27 on the sovereign initiative of God in both the giving and hiding of revelation does not eliminate or undermine the moral responsibility of people. Indeed, the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum will be held to a higher standard of accountability precisely because they had been given so much but had responded so little. And following this word concerning God's sovereignty in vv. 25-27 there comes an appeal for faith in vv. 28-30.
The "wise and intelligent" are those who, if they had lived up to their reputation for being so learned, should have been the first to acknowledge who Jesus was. The "wise and intelligent" are the self-reliant who are convinced they have no need of divine wisdom. But Jesus isn't excluding smart people from the kingdom. It isn't intellectual power he condemns but intellectual pride. Thus "one is to think of the worldly wise, men of secular sophistication who, though sagacious in their own eyes and crafty in their own devices, are yet far from true wisdom" (Davies/Allison, 275). "Infants" or "babes" are those who humbly acknowledge their need for divine mercy. Simply put, the knowledge of God isn't the product of natural law or human logic or chance occurrence. Spiritual understanding doesn't depend on human achievement or IQ or social status or political influence. Rather, it is the fruit of divine illumination.
3. the underlying principle v. 26
Far from bemoaning or finding fault with the Father's sovereign purpose, Jesus rejoiced. "Whatever pleases you, Father, pleases me!"
B. The Relationship v. 27
Three incredible claims are made here by Jesus.
1. Jesus claims to have absolute and universal authority (v. 27a).
2. Jesus claims to have a special and altogether unique relationship with God the Father (v. 27b). See John 5:18; 10:30-31. To "know" is more than mental acquaintance; it is intimate relationship and deep spiritual communion.
3. Jesus claims that he alone can reveal the Father to others (v. 27c). "Just as the Son praises the Father for revealing and concealing according to his good pleasure (v. 26), so the Father has authorized the Son to reveal or not according to his will" (Carson, 277). Evidently, one of the "things" the Father has given to the Son is the authority to decide to whom the Father shall be revealed!
When the Father finally makes sense to us, when we come to know him truly, to the degree that we grasp something of his nature and will and ways, it is because the Son has graciously stooped to reveal him to us. Our knowledge of God does not come naturally. Neither is it ultimately the product of meticulous research or study. It certainly isn't because we deserve it. It's a gift from his Son. He and he alone is the mediator of the knowledge of God to mankind.
See Mt. 16:17. If one is to know the Son the Father must reveal him. If one is to know the Father the Son must reveal him. It takes God to know God!
Our response? Humility! Gratitude! Praise!