Jesus the Revealer and Revelation of God (A Study in the Gospel of Matthew with Ben Witherington)

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25 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. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “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 NRSV)

Key Observation: The key to understanding Jesus is recognizing his unique relationship with his Father.

This text speaks to us about Jesus being both a revealer and the revelation of God. The presupposition behind these verses is that, unless God reveals himself, fallen human beings will not understand him. So he chooses to reveal himself exclusively through his Son. In fact, Jesus says that no one knows the Father but him (an astounding claim), and that only the Father thus far truly knows the Son. Further, Jesus stresses that all things have been committed to him by the Father. In this case, “all things” has to do with the revelation of the coming final kingdom of God, of God’s coming final saving activity, and of the bringing (not merely announcing) of that saving activity. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are central to this mission.

An assumption in this text is that the hearts of God’s people have grown hard. They have not been listening to God’s messengers. Thus, God has to send his own Son to reveal and implement God’s saving truth. The people dwell in darkness, and only a direct revelation from God, in this case in the person of his Son, can help them. But why would God hide these things from the wise and reveal them to children or those lacking experience?

Perhaps we are meant to think that the worldly wise have ceased to be open to anything new. We see this sort of cynical wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes, where there is the mantra—“there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9). But perhaps this is also what happens when a person gets too familiar with the ways of the fallen world. We forget that God can do new things in the lives of people. Children at least are mostly without guile, without cynicism. There is an openness in children; they are ready to receive a new revelation from God. Their lack of experience in this world is a plus in that case.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What does it tell you about Jesus that he claims exclusive access to the Father?
  2. What can we learn from children to help us have eyes and ears capable of receiving truth from God?

Did you enjoy this entry? Discover our OneBook: Daily-Weekly Bible studies, of which this entry is a part. In this Bible study on the Gospel of Matthew with Dr. Ben Witherington III, we discover Jesus as Matthew presents him—the incarnate wisdom of God that brings the kingdom of heaven to earth. Following the text through the stories, parables, and noting the special miracles, God’s people are presented with the mission and ministry of Jesus the Messiah who fulfills the Jewish Law. At times he raises the standard, other times he authoritatively reinterprets its meaning, and finally, he fulfills its requirements through his life, death, and resurrection. All of this is to widen and deepen the reach of God’s heavenly kingdom, which we discover extends to all people at the end of the Gospel. Get the Bible Study, plus the DVD or streaming portion, in our store here.

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Dr. Witherington joined the Asbury Seminary faculty in 1995. A prolific author, Dr. Witherington has written more than 40 books and six commentaries. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. In his leisure time, Dr. Witherington appreciates both music and sports. It is hard to say which sound he prefers: the sophisticated sonance of jazz sensation Pat Metheny or the incessant tomahawk chant of the Atlanta Braves faithful. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, he is a dedicated Tar Heels basketball and football fan. He and his wife, Ann, have two children.

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