Sunday, July 30, 2017

Offending wisdom

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 13:47-58

TO CHEW ON: "When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, 'Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?'" Matthew 13:54

The kingdom of heaven parables poured out of Jesus. In today's reading, we read the last of a series recorded in Matthew 13. In it, Jesus compared the kingdom to a mixed catch of fish (Matthew 13:47-50).

We take from it the message that the church's responsibility is to spread the gospel wherever it can, even to those who appear unlikely to accept it, for it attracts people of all kinds. And like the parable of the wheat and tares, here the 'fish'  who survive a sorting by the angels at the end of the age will be preserved while the wicked will be cast into a place that sounds a lot like hell - Matthew 13:50.

"Where did this Man get this wisdom?" the people in Jesus' home town inquired. Even though they may not have been referring to His kingdom of heaven speech specifically (He had in the meantime traveled to the place where he grew up - Nazareth), His teaching was invariably wise, thought-provoking, stimulating, and controversial.

Unfortunately even though townspeople called Jesus' teaching wise, they were offended by it (Matthew 13:57). It's the same reaction Jesus' teaching receives today (e.g. the ongoing controversy within Christianity about the existence and meaning of hell).

Two applications come to mind:

1. I wish I had a tiny iota of Jesus' wisdom, don't you? We are reminded of Peter and John and the reaction to their teaching: "Now when they (rulers, elders, scribes etc.) saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus" - Acts 4:13 (emphasis added). Is the secret to wisdom spending time with Jesus?

2. We need to be mindful of our own reaction to Jesus' teaching. Our generation has a tendency to select what it will believe and live by. A popular emphasis today is Jesus' message about caring for the poor, while we gloss over His message of judgment. Are we personally guilty of letting society's preferences dictate which of Jesus' words we take seriously and which we don't because they offend?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for the record of Your wisdom in the Bible. Help me to assimilate it into my life. I want my mind, life and speech to be changed by time spent with You. Amen.

MORE: What is wisdom?

Charles Spurgeon writes:
"Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom."
J. I. Packer writes:
"Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. Wisdom is, in fact, the practical side of moral goodness. As such, it is found in its fulness only in God. He alone is naturally and entirely and invariable wise."
John Piper writes:
"Wisdom is the practical knowledge of how to attain that happiness. Therefore, wisdom is hearing and doing the Word of God."
For further reflection, see John Piper's 1981 sermon titled "Get Wisdom."

(From the website

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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