October 10, 2011

Luke 10.21

At that moment, Jesus exulted in the Spirit and said, "I thank Thee, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, for hiding these things from the learned and wise, and revealing them to the simple. Yes, Father, such was Thy choice."


At 10:13 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

Well, I was hoping somebody else would do this one, but...

This bit looks to be annoyingly flavored with that old trinitarian metaphor, and the 'piety' that goes with it.

While Satan may have fallen from Heaven, 'he' still seems an influence on human minds: the notion that Jesus is pleased about anybody not getting it; that's a very satanic style of thinking.

If you think of yourself as learned and wise (as well as simple!) then this verse just doesn't seem as much fun! I don't think we're supposed to conclude that becoming more learned and wise is a bad thing, that God will get you for it! Merely that "these things" aren't all that hard to figure out.

So what are "these things"? That the 'Kingdom of God' is arriving on Earth, that it doesn't take Jesus' personal presence to make it spread. Seventy human beings go off in 35 directions, and wherever they're welcomed they can heal the sick (& "raise the dead" as I remember Matthew's version of this.)

"Satan is falling from Heaven!" "The Accuser" has still got a long way to fall-- but the fact that human beings can successfully call on God to heal each other is a sign of the Kingdom arriving-- and a sign that people are ceasing to view their sufferings as the deserved consequence of divine malice...

Suffering must have a reason and a purpose; God must have ordained it-- and can put it to good use-- but the people being healed can see that it was not (as they may have formerly been persuaded) God's ultimate intention for them! The fact that "simple" people can realize this, despite all the arguments of the learned and wise, is what calls for rejoicing.

At 7:15 p.m., Blogger Random Arrow said...

I like the NASB – Luke 10:21 ¶ At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.”

I’m not sure about proper exegesis here. I have a hunch that Jesus may return to a previous theme of secrecy. The previous theme of a hidden element in the Kingdom, that is, hidden or secret in the sense that Jesus doesn’t want to attract the praise of those in power or privilege who might use flattery or perhaps force (as those in John wanted to seize him and make him king by force) to make Jesus king. He’s already forewarned his disciples that the elders and leaders will reject him as Messiah. There may be more to the hidden nature of the Kingdom. In the sense at minimum that the Spirit is invisible. Maybe more than that.

I get a sense that God is actively hiding something about the Kingdom. I may be wrong. Just a guess. The hidden nature of the Kingdom involves its inward and intimate aspects. For starters. The powers that be are trapped in outward appearances. And blind. How much God actively initiates blindness (hiddenness, Gk. cryptos) is a puzzle to me. The text reads in the active voice. This element of hiding has an active feel to me. But I can’t comprehend it. I do feel the Kingdom is offered universally. Perhaps God hides certain features or realities of the Kingdom case by case or moment by moment. So that revelation inwardly still happens on average over time. Beats me how that works. So many theories. I’m not thinking of a gnostic theme. But it’s interesting and puzzling why it pleases God to hide aspects or elements of the Kingdom. In an active sense.

Perhaps it’s simple. Maybe Jesus is rejoicing because there are a handful who get it. Who are catching on.

Infancy may not be some sort of spiritual or intentional or motivational prerequisite for seeing the Kingdom among the disciples (like you said – this isn’t anti-wisdom or anti-learning), but instead, infancy in the Kingdom may simply be the true status of those who are just catching on. I know I feel this way often. Like an infant. Knowing so little. Surprised at how God works.

It’s comforting and fun to see Jesus rejoicing. I can’t explain why. An amazing text.

I’m thinking too that the business of Satan falling includes (at minimum) the fact that the accusations inwardly and the doubts inside the disciples are melting away because the disciples start to see the Spirit at work. It’s not just pie in the sky. There’s substance. Heaven (whatever that is) is touching down.

It’s got to be a head rush and a temptation to ego and pride to bathe in the feeling of having power to tread over evil. I’m tempted to this when I see miracles in cases. I want to take credit. Perhaps Jesus’s previous warnings to keep things secret involved a call to simple humility. I’d be tempted to flaunt these successes in Roman faces and say, “Jesus says we’ll be coming to kick your butts too!” So maybe secrecy and hiddenness really does involve something more simple – humility and pragmatic tact too.


At 11:56 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

I tend to think of this "hidden" quality as something analogous to why the Frodo gambit works in the _Lord of the Rings_. There, of course, there happen to be reasons for hiding a plan that couldn't work without concealment-- but what I find significant is the reason that this concealment works: Sauron simply can't imagine anybody destroying the Ring, anyone not wanting it for himself.

Since Tolkien was thinking of his story as a reflection of his Catholic version of the Jesus story... I wonder if there is a connection in this.

Okay, what? People who have power and privilege-- and who keep it any length of time-- are people who value that, who cling to it. They can't conceive of "a kingdom of nobodies," nor of wanting to belong to such, nor of serving it except as a means of gaining personal "power-over" something or someone.

The fact that Jesus is playing it straight, that he isn't letting personal survival be a priority, let along personal power-- that he is up to serving God's ends above all-- All that seems anything but "wise." "Simple" (in the sense here) might mean something like "not distracted by having anything to lose."

Martin Luther King was like that... an intelligent man, certainly-- but what made him irreplaceable was utterly simple: He wasn't kidding himself, not about what needed (and still needs) to change, not about the absolute necessity of nonviolence to bring that about, not about the fact that his role in events was a death sentence. So that after they killed him there was nobody capable of filling his shoes. "Nobody" understood him, although everyone knew what he meant.

Phew! Back to those 1st Century understudies, sent out to the villages to heal the sick. Everyone in Israel had (at least some form of) that dream of "the Kingdom," of God taking charge of Israel and establishing a reign of pure benevolent abundance... but there were these seventy guys who loved that dream so much that they could (at least begin to, for now, this far...) drop everything else to make it happen. And they, too, could heal the sick and cast out bad spirits...


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