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Matthew

11:25-30

 

At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (ESV)

 

A Child of God

Wednesday of Pentecost 3

2 July 2014

Jesus, exasperated with His disciples, chides them for keeping the little children from Him, saying, 'Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God' (Lk 18:16). He takes them up in His arms and puts His hands on them and blesses them. They are the ones whom He says possess His kingdom. In fact, those who try to possess His kingdom on the basis of their own capacity, life, or works, He will cast out. Those who have power and authority He will reject. Those who claim great things for themselves He will abase and humiliate. Those who recognize their abasement will cry out with the Apostle, 'Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!' (Rm 7:24). The law of God reduces us all to complete incapacity in the sight of the Almighty God. We become not merely spiritual toddlers, but babes in arms, capable of nothing. No infant changes his own diaper, feeds, clothes, or comforts himself. This his parents do for him. This is what it means to be a child; to be helpless. We care for our children because they are in need of such care. This is why Jesus takes the little children up in His arms and blesses them. I want to be one of those!

 

In our great adult wisdom, we think that we are not in need of God's care. We presume that we have graduated beyond such weakness and need. We dream that we can take the kingdom for our own; that we can snatch it out of the hands of God. But Jesus Himself puts down this presumption and hides His divine things under signs of weakness and child-likeness. In fact, Jesus turns our presumption that we could snatch the kingdom for God on its head when He says, "No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:28-30). While we are trying to snatch what He wants to give us freely, He hides His gifts in plain sight under the flesh of a Man born of a Virgin, who was crucified and placed in the tomb of a rich man in His death. He gives His grace in the mysteries of the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, under the bread and wine He distributes His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, with mere words delivered by mere human preachers. We're looking for more difficult things or more glorious things or more powerful things than these weak and childish things. We are dissatisfied with the condescension of God and like our enemy we think that God ought to provide a more spectacular show for the world. We want to be vindicated in a powerful, outward way: "See, the Supreme Court of the United States agrees with me!" Do we really think that God is seeking the approbation of our human courts?

 

Without the Holy Spirit we would never come to understand and believe what God has hidden under the contrary forms of weakness and humility. What is Christ's is the Father's and the Spirit's. All three Persons of the holy Trinity work together to bring us into our salvation. The movement of the Spirit among us is not merely a physical coming, but all that He does is for our salvation. He is not just coming to my place, but bringing me into the fellowship of God's Son, Jesus Christ, through the means of grace. People often feel that the ministry of the Spirit is to provide a glorious improvement on the humility and weakness of God's Son; "Ooh, now we're getting something really glorious and powerful out of God." But all the Spirit is doing is giving us what is the Father's and the Son's. His ministry has no other ends than those of the entire holy Trinity. Christ is God's child, His only-begotten Son. He and His Father are one; the Son not less than the Father according to His divinity, but the Son subordinates Himself to His Father as His Son. Why should we not abase ourselves to come entirely under God's care, if even the eternal Son of the Father has humbled Himself? We are but little children rightly and properly because He is God's Son. 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children' (Mt 11:25).

 

Ambrose of Milan

 

"The Spirit comes just as does the Father, for where the Father is there is also the Son, and where the Son is there is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is not to be supposed to come separately. But He comes not from place to place, but from the order of giving life to that of the grace of sanctification, to translate us from earth to heaven, from wretchedness to glory, from slavery to a kingdom.

 

"The Spirit comes, then, as the Father comes. For the Son said, I and the Father 'will come to him and make our home with him' (Jn 14:23). Does the Father come in a bodily way? Thus when the Spirit comes, there is the full presence of the Father and the Son.

 

"Who can separate the Spirit from the Father and the Son, since we cannot even name the Father and the Son without the Spirit? 'No one can say, "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit' (1Co 12:3).  If we cannot call Jesus Lord except in the Holy Spirit, we certainly cannot proclaim Him without the Spirit. But if the angels also proclaim Jesus to be Lord, whom no one can proclaim except in the Spirit, then in them also the office of the Holy Spirit operates.

 

"We have proved, then, that the presence and the grace of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one, which is so heavenly and divine that the Son gives thanks therefore to the Father, saying, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children' (Mt 11:25)."

 

Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit, 1.11
 
Prayer

O Holy Spirit, light divine, send the bright beams of the Word into the darkness of my heart. Crush my adult pretences to spiritual power. Help me to be Your true child; dependent on You. Amen.

 

For the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States as they complete their session, that they would be kept in God's gracious care

 

For Vicar John Stebbins as he begins his vicarage at Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, that the Lord would strengthen and uphold him in this time of learning

 

For President Daniel Gard of Concordia University Chicago, that the Lord would strengthen him and build him up in his holy faith
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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