Updated: Mar 29, 2022
At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to little children; yes Father, for such was your gracious will."
Why Many People Fail to Believe in Jesus
This Scripture comes right after Jesus finishes condemning three towns in Galilee where He performs miracles in front of the crowds and preaches to them. Even though people clearly see God's power on display with their own eyes, they still fail to repent of their sins and believe that Jesus is the Messiah (Matthew 11:20–24).
Why do these people fail to believe that Jesus is God, despite seeing miracles performed right in front of them? A clue is given to us in Scripture: When in the middle of speaking to the crowd, Jesus turns to God the Father and thanks Him for having hidden these things from the wise and intelligent. Jesus thanks the Father for keeping the truth from those who are considered to be wise, according to the world's standards, or at least according to their own eyes. God keeps the truth from those who are blinded by their own pride. Instead, God reveals His hidden divine truth only to "little children." Little children are people of all ages with humble hearts, eager to receive the light of the gospel in Christ Jesus.
What does it mean when the verse says, "these things"? "These things" are things that should be quite obvious. If Jesus displays a power that can only be from God — a power to raise the dead, to cure impossible illnesses, and to drive out demons with a simple word—then He must be the Messiah. How could someone possibly see these things with their own eyes and still not believe that He is truly God??
Blinded by Pride
Jesus identifies two reasons why people can't see the light of the gospel in Christ. First, those who are considered to be wise and intelligent in the eyes of the world, tend to overestimate their intelligence and think highly of themselves. A high IQ carries along with it the temptation to deny or excuse away anything that the individual doesn't like or prefer. Since Jesus is not what many of the self-professing wise men expect from the Messiah, they simply decide Jesus cannot be the Messiah, according to their own standards.
Second, this verse implies that God hides what should be obvious from those who are arrogant and proud. This is not very different than the way a very wealthy person might fool himself into believing he needs nothing and no one else—not even God. He may believe he is secure enough in all of his earthly treasures, wealth, and in his own self-sufficiency. This all stems from the root of all sin: pride.
In a certain sense, God helps the proud to not understand what they choose not to understand, according to their own preferences. This is similar to how Pharaoh, during the Exodus, was allowed to resist God's will (Exodus 7:22; 8:15, 32). God made an example of Pharaoh by further hardening his heart, eventually giving him over. (Exodus 9:12; 10:20; 14:8).
Humble Hearts Receive Christ
On the other side of the coin, God reveals what is obviously true to "little children." This is not only true of actual children, but Jesus talks about adults becoming like little children in order to be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. (See Matthew 18:1–5). They are the ones who realize their need for a savior and humble themselves before God. Jesus also talks about coming to God with childlike faith. Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it (Mark 10:14-15).
* I dedicate this post to my sister in Christ, Nori. This is her favorite Scripture that she shared with me. I also drew this butterfly from a butterfly she found in her garden. (See below for the photo of her special butterfly). If there is anyone who loves butterflies the most, it is certainly Nori! I call her Madame Butterfly, and we talk about butterflies and Jesus Christ :) Things that bring true joy!
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, Matthew 18:1-5
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:6-8
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:13-16
What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived - the things God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9