Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jesus Christ: Teacher of Wisdom

At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever (intelligent, learned, or proud), and for revealing them to the childlike (the humbled disciples). Yes, Father, it pleased You to do it this way! My Father has entrusted everything to Me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you (learn from Jesus), because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:25-30 (NLT)

In His prayer, Jesus mentioned two kinds of people: the “wise” and the “little children (see also Mark 10:13-16; Matthew 18:3; Luke 18:15-17). The “wise” are those arrogant in their own knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 3:7), while the “childlike” are those who accepts the truth of God's Word as a gift and have a total dependence and full trust with God (see Proverbs 3:5-6). People full of pride and wisdom in their own eyes often reject the truth of God’s Word. Jesus was opposed to those who were intellectually and spiritually proud (being wise in one's own eyes) (Luke 10:21-22). These people are often prideful, selfishness or self-centered with a “know-it-all” attitude (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16).  Our world worships power, influence, and wealth but not Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ rewards and blesses our obedience to God, love of others, selflessness, wholehearted devotion to God, and truth. Moreover, He welcomes and accepts all those who have humbly, obediently, and genuinely accepted Him as Lord and Savior by simple faith and seeks Him.

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible (unsearchable) it is for us to understand His decisions (judgments) and His ways (paths)! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts (mind)? Who knows enough to give Him advice? And who has given Him so much that He needs to pay it back? For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)

As God in human flesh, Jesus is all wise and knows all the answers of life (Matthew 12:41-42; Luke 11:31-32; see also Philippians 2:1-11). Jesus possesses the fullness of God and reveals the fullness of God’s wisdom (Colossians 2:3, 9). God has absolute power and absolute wisdom (Romans 11:33-36).  He manages the universe and our lives with perfect wisdom, justice, and love. God is all wise and all knowing; therefore, we can wholeheartedly trust God with our lives. We can obtain God’s wisdom by “the fear of the Lord.”  The “fear of the Lord” means wholeheartedly respecting, loving, and obeying God and fleeing evil and wickedness (see Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7-9; Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 9:6, 10; Proverbs 14:1 ). As we stay intimately close to God, knowing Him, and learning His ways, we find wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:6). “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to turn from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28, HCSB).  If we have trouble fearing God and departing from evil, we can ask God for His wisdom. God graciously and generously gives His wisdom by sending His Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Wisdom – to those who genuinely and wholeheartedly ask Him (James 1:5). God’s Holy Spirit equips and empowers God’s people with discernment, human skills, and wisdom.

God wants everyone to depart from evil and follow His righteous path (Deuteronomy 4:6; Acts 5:32). God’s Holy Spirit gives us the power of God to flee evil and obey God within our hearts. To disobey God’s Word is to forfeit one’s wisdom (Jeremiah 8:8-9). The teachings of Jesus (mainly proverbs and parables) culminates with His command to love God and love one another (see Matthew 22:34-40; John 13:34-35; John 15:12, 17; 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; Colossians 2:3). The laws of love revealed in our everyday attitudes, activities, and relationships towards God and others are central to the Old Testament and New Testament and the crown of God’s wisdom teaching (see Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:5; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Mark 12:29-31; Romans 13:8 and Galatians 5:14).

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. Proverbs 3:3-7 (NIV)

According to Apostle Paul, Jesus Christ is our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:3). Jesus Christ not only fulfilled the Old Testament law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17) but He also fulfilled the wisdom books of the Old Testament (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs) (see 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; Colossians 2:3). Even more, Jesus Christ is “greater than Solomon,” the writer of Proverbs (Matthew 12:42). As Christians, we are now to faithfully and intimately follow Jesus Christ as our Teacher in His path of wisdom (see Matthew 11:28-30). In Jesus Christ’s words, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT). Jesus Christ wants us to come to Him, become His disciple, and learn from Him. In the wisdom books of the Old Testament, wisdom was given to people through the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (see Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). But becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is wisdom because to possess wisdom is to possess Jesus Christ. Thus, to walk the path of wisdom means to walk the path of Jesus Christ and embrace His teaching. God gives generously to everyone Jesus Christ’s wisdom who seeks and trust Him as Lord and Savior (Proverbs 2:1-10; cf. James 1:5).

God the Father reveals Himself to the God Son (Jesus Christ), and Jesus Christ reveals Himself and the Father to all who are humbly willing to come to Him in wholehearted faith (the disciples). The disciples of Jesus Christ are often called little children or childlike. But more generally, disciples are humble followers of Jesus Christ who learn from Jesus Christ as their Teacher.  Sadly, the religious leaders of Jesus Christ’s day placed “heavy burdens” on people’s shoulders by insisting on a legalistic interpretation of the God’s Law (see Matthew 23:4).  The yoke of Jesus (His teaching) are light in comparison with the burdensome teaching of the religious leaders of His day (see Matthew 23:4).

Why are Jesus Christ’s teachings light? Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to empower and teach His disciples the truths and wisdom of God (John 14:17, 25-26; John 16:12-14; see also Jeremiah 31:31-34). The Holy Spirit writes or indwells the wisdom and truth of God within the hearts of Jesus’ disciples (see 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Ephesians 1:17). As we stay close and intimate with Jesus, He empowers and strengthens His disciples to obey God’s righteous standards found in the Law (John 15:1-8). Jesus Christ is the true Word of God (John 1:1-5, 14). Again, God’s righteous standards are summed up as wholehearted faith in God that expresses itself in love for God and love for others (Galatians 5:6; see also Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Romans 13:8-10).

Apostle Paul:  I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ Himself. In Him (Christ) lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him (Jesus Christ). Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Do not let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the Head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:1-10 (NLT)

According to the Apostle Paul, we find in Jesus Christ all the treasures of wisdom (Colossians 2:3). Even more, Jesus Christ’s wisdom protects us from false philosophies, beliefs, and teachings. We defeat false teaching and beliefs by staying intimately close and united with Jesus Christ through personal Bible study, diligent church attendance, worship, obeying the Holy Spirit, and prayer. In the Old Testament, God’s wisdom on display was creation (see Proverbs 3:18-20; Proverbs 8:22-31). Creation revealed the wisdom of God. But now in Jesus Christ, creation and redemption have joined and now the great example of the wisdom of God is not creation but how God has accomplished redemption for His people through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross to save us (1 Corinthians 1:18).

In summary, who am I in Jesus Christ?  The Apostle Paul tells us that through our wholehearted trust and obedience in Jesus Christ we are made not only made holy, righteous, and redeemed, but also made wise (see 1 Corinthians 1:2; 30; see also 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1Thessalonians 4:3-7).Thus, if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior by faith, we have wisdom, holiness – God’s Holy Spirit, and a new life (see Acts 1:8; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Colossians 3:1-4, 16; Galatians 3:27-29; Galatians 5:22-23; Titus 3:5-7). Our intimate, spiritual, and living union with Jesus Christ brings true and lasting wisdom – that is divine wisdom. Divine wisdom far exceeds any human wisdom, philosophies and knowledge.  In close faith and intimacy to Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God is revealed in our daily lives. Divine wisdom is not just the gaining of academic skills and other talents but the gaining of spiritual discernment based on the wisdom of God as demonstrated in the Cross. Human wisdom, philosophies and beliefs do not have the power of God to change lives. This power comes only from the pure, simple message of the atoning work of Cross (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18). The atoning death of Jesus Christ on the Cross opened the way for God to extend His grace to sinful humanity, and pour out upon humans such benefits as wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, etc. without measure.

Apostle Paul:  Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NLT)

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