The 11th and 12th chapters of Matthew’s gospel which we’re reading this week describes a growing opposition to Jesus after he begins his ministry in Galilee. It’s a dark section of the gospel.
The Pharisees now take “counsel against him to put him to death” and begin to oppose him. (Matthew 12.14) They’re not satisfied with his teachings and miracles and demand a sign. They’re joined by the Herodians, followers of Herod Antipas who ruled in Galilee. The political establishment joins the opposition.
Jesus is also opposed by “this generation” of Israelites, the towns “where most of his mighty deeds had been done,” Corazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum. (Matthew 11,16-19) The towns that enthusiastically first welcomed him seem to dismiss him.
At the end of this section of Matthew another group, who may surprise us, appear to oppose him – his family from Nazareth. (Matthew 12,47-50)
All together, this opposition must have affected Jesus, as he faced the fickleness of humanity. But it also must have affected his disciples as well, who joined him expecting to see God’s kingdom come.
I think they’re among those whom Jesus prays for in today’s gospel.
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
From what we know of them, the first disciples of Jesus were not wise and learned, they were more like children excited by what they saw Jesus do and say. They had no deep theories or plans to draw upon; they had no experience to go by when they faced failure and rejection. They only heard the simple wisdom Jesus offered as he spoke to them in parables.
And that was enough.
Are we like them, and is our time now like theirs? In a time like ours this gospel reminds us God reveals his wisdom to the childlike. His Son still reveals himself to us. We praise God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. The childlike will be taken care of.