Devotion - April 21

‘At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”‘ Matthew 11:25-27

I have been reflecting on the things that God chooses to reveal to us in Jesus – and the things that God chooses not to let us in on. In his book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer reflects on the ‘comforting pretense’ shattered by things we didn’t see coming:

‘This comforting pretense becomes part of us: we feel sure that God has enabled us to understand all His ways with us and our circle thus far, and we take it for granted that we shall be able to see at once the reason for anything that may happen to us in the future. And then something very painful and quite inexplicable comes along, and our cheerful illusion of being in God’s secret councils is shattered. Our pride is wounded; we feel that God has slighted us; and unless at this point we repent, and humble ourselves very thoroughly for our former presumption, our whole subsequent spiritual life may be blighted.’

The circumstances of our lives and how they relate to our knowledge of God is so complicated. Because sometimes, on a sunny day when the mountains reflect the glory of God and every relationship reminds us of God’s love, ‘knowing’ God’s glory and love is obvious. Yet we can’t actually claim knowledge of God’s goodness by keeping a running total of circumstantial benevolence. As Packer so bluntly states, ‘Rarely does this world look as if a beneficent Providence were running it.’ It is Jesus who reveals the goodness of God the Father – and Jesus who leads us in this knowledge.

You know what I have always found fascinating? That Jesus – the Son to whom all things have been committed by the Father, the only one who knows the Father – Jesus talks about the things that he does not know. Sit with that one for a hot second. The things that Jesus – the second member of the Trinity (the ultimate privy council) – does … not … know.

Remember when he spoke about the end of all history at his return? That only the Father knows the day and the hour (Mt. 24:36)? Jesus submits to this authority on the part of the Father – admitting that he will not determine who will be seated in the places of honor when Jesus returns to reign. The Father is the one who knows that, too (Mt. 20:23). I’m caught off guard at every admission of a limitation to Jesus’ knowledge of what God the Father is going to do, or even a deciding vote in these future affairs.

Jesus teaches us that there is knowing details and outcomes, and then there is knowing God. This latter knowledge, of God’s goodness and justice and grace and faithfulness and attentive care, is the knowledge that matters. And Jesus reveals that knowledge of God requires humble submission to God’s authority not to reveal all things. Knowing God, in Jesus, means trusting God, in Jesus, amid all that we do not know and have no authority to command.

Meanwhile, Packer writes, ‘we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.’

[Today's OT readings: Psalms 101-105, Proverbs 21]

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