February 15, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 10:21 (NRSV)
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”
Here’s a curious thought: God reveals his truth, not to “the wise and the intelligent” but to “infants.” Yes, that’s what Jesus said in Luke 10. How can I be an “infant” who knows God truly? The answer has to do with my assuming a posture of humility and dependence on God. I will never know God because I’m so brilliant, but rather because God is so gracious.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
In the passage from Luke that comes right before our text today, seventy of Jesus’s disciples “returned with joy” from their mission trip (10:17). They were excited about the fact that demons had submitted to them. Jesus affirmed the importance of their efforts (Luke 10:19), but encouraged them to rejoice mainly because of their eternal relationship with God (10:20).
“At that same hour,” Luke tells us, “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (10:21). The context suggests that his joy was related to what had recently happened with the seventy disciples. The language of this verse emphasizes the great joy Jesus felt. The Message renders well the sense of the Greek, “Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus revealed the curious reason for his joy in a short prayer: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Luke 10:21). In context, “these things” are what the seventy disciples learned and what Jesus added with his coaching. “These things” have to do with the spiritual authority of Jesus’s followers and their everlasting relationship with God.
The curious part of Jesus’s prayer, from my point of view, has to do with the Father hiding “these things” from the “wise and intelligent” and revealing them to “infants.” (Yes, “infants” translates the standard Greek word for babies.) It’s clear that Jesus is using “infants” metaphorically, for those who are not known for their wisdom and intelligence. God’s revelation comes to people like the disciples of Jesus; ordinary, even simple people, not those with academic degrees or religious credentials (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-31).
As I think about this, I wonder, “Am I left out? Does God reveal his truth to me? Or do I have way too much education?” The fact is that I’m pretty far from an infant when it comes to learning. I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to develop my wisdom and intelligence. But does this actually count against me when it comes to knowing God and his ways?
I think it can, actually. I’ve known quite a few people who are brilliant when it comes to knowledge, even knowledge of the Scripture, but greatly lacking when it comes to knowing God truly and intimately. Their learning does get in the way of their knowing. Yet, I have known others who are people of great learning who also know God deeply. I think for example, of Dallas Willard, who was a brilliant academic philosopher whose personal knowledge of God was profound. I know this from Dallas’s writing and from several personal encounters with him.
So how can a learned person know God? What’s required is true humility, genuine dependence on God, and freedom from intellectual arrogance. One can be a highly-regarded professor, like Dallas, and still know God if one approaches God in the posture of a child. Later in Luke, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (18:17).
For me, becoming like a child when it comes to Scripture is a matter of submitting myself fully to God and God’s truth. Especially when I’m working on a tricky passage, I continually ask God to teach me. And when I’m done, I pray something like this, “Lord, I’ve tried my best to understand this passage. But I realize that I might be quite wrong in my conclusions. So I submit my thinking to you, indeed, my whole self to you. If I’m wrong, correct me. Teach me your truth. I give myself to you now.”
Do you see yourself more as an “infant” or a person of “wisdom and intelligence”?
How open are you to be taught, even corrected by God’s revealed truth?
Do you depend on God for wisdom? Or do you tend to depend on yourself?
Take some minutes to approach God in the posture of a child. What do you imagine? What do you experience?
Gracious God, you know how much I want to be a person of wisdom and intelligence. Surely it’s not wrong to seek your wisdom and knowledge. But it is wrong to place myself in the ultimate seat of judgment, or to think I can figure you out all by myself. I confess, Lord, that sometimes I use my knowledge to resist your truth, rather than to seek it.
Help me, I pray, to come before you as a child. May I be humble. May I recognize how much I need your grace. May I be willing to admit when I am wrong. May I depend on you utterly.
Thank you, Lord, for making yourself known to me. Amen.
P.S. Lent approaches! And we have resources for you.
In two days we enter the Christian season of Lent, a 40-day time of reflection and preparation for Holy Week and Easter. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day to remember our mortality and need for a Savior. The De Pree Center has a number of resources to help you grow in your relationship with the Lord through observing Lent, including Ash Wednesday. You can find these resources, including our new devotional guide based on the Stations of the Cross, at this link.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.