Frank Retief was pastor at St James Church Cape Town for 31 years, having planted the church in 1968 with his wife Beulah. He became the Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in South Africa until he retired in 2010. Frank remains active in ministry through preaching, teaching, pastoral work & writing, and has authored a number of books.
Truth – Hidden & Revealed
Luke 1- v 21. “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, 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 was your good pleasure.”
Here we are presented with an amazing truth – one we are apt to forget. Understanding of Jesus and his Salvation is not “attained” by us, but rather is given to us by the Father. He reveals his deep secrets to “little children”. This was a title Jesus used to refer to those ordinary people who are not well schooled or sophisticated.
Notice the reference to the Trinity in v 21 – Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Father! Let us never forget that our God is truly Father, Son, Spirit. We may be bewildered by this but it is true.
What’s more, we have an illustration here of the great truth that by nature we know nothing of God and His ways. We are born spiritually ignorant, we live like that and we would die in this same ignorance if God did not intervene. And in grace and mercy he does indeed intervene. But notice to whom He reveals his truths.
The “wise and the learned” mentioned here by Jesus does not refer to the ordinary wisdom and true learning available to people, but to those proud and arrogant people who are so full of their own self-righteousness that they make themselves unteachable. They learn nothing from anyone. They have shut themselves off from God because they consider themselves as already possessing a full knowledge of God and they do not want help.
This is a sad and dangerous condition. To be unteachable is to be caught up in one of the saddest mind-sets in the world. It means an inability to grow or learn.
On the other hand the “little children” referred to by Jesus does not refer primarily to small children but to those who are naive and unlearned, but recognize their helplessness and welcome somebody coming to instruct them and lead them.
God works in ways that are contrary to the world. The world honours those who are full of confidence and arrogance, but God honours those who are of humble and contrite spirits.
And why does He do this? Because, says Jesus, it was his good pleasure. His Divine Will works for the downfall of pride and for the good of those who accept His Word by faith in Him.