A Sermon for Series A Proper 9 2017 “We’re too smart for our own good”


Old Testament Lesson  Zechariah 9:9-12

Second Lesson  Romans 7:14-25a

Gospel Lesson  Matthew 11:25-30 

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.  The text for our meditation this day is the Gospel lesson just read.  [Matt. 11:25-30]

When someone thinks they know it all, we sometimes say, “He’s too smart for his own good.”  That’s what Jesus is saying in the gospel lesson today.  “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children.”

Not that our Lord and Savior would have us blindly follow him, but when we let our reason lord it over scripture; telling ourselves that certain parts of scripture couldn’t possibly be true, or that these things we call miracles are just the author’s imagination working overtime to convince us of the majesty and greatness of our God; then we do more than use our reason to understand.

We place ourselves in the position of the wise, no longer living in child-like trust, trusting in the wisdom of God, but banking on our own human wisdom.  We stop being children of God and start being mediators for God.  We take on the role of judge and jury.  We decide what’s true and false; … as if, in all eternity, God would ever utter a false word.

We become too smart for our own good, and in our wisdom, the things the Holy Spirit has revealed to us become hidden.  Oh, they’re still there, in plain sight.  We just can’t see them anymore; because our sinful nature has robbed us of our sight; our spiritual sight, given to us by the childlike faith that the Spirit gave us as we first believed in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Our Savior’s there; he’s hiding in plain sight; but because we’re too smart for our own good, we can’t see him.  We don’t go to him for help.  Instead we’re stuck using our own wisdom to solve life’s problems. … How’s that working for you?

You may not even see that you’re out there looking for help, looking for a way to overcome the challenges of life, looking for a way to turn things around; a way to forgive the one who hurt you, a way to become more willing to help those who continually refuse your help but really need it, a way to stop longing for the things that aren’t yours and to be satisfied with the blessings you’ve been given.

We struggle with these kinds of things too often.  We’re out there looking for the answer; and we look right past him, not even considering that he holds the solution to our problems, not considering that he is the solution to our problems.  We look right past the one who can do it all, the only one who’s already done it all, and we continue to search and seek for the solution to our problems on our own.  We’re too smart for our own good.

Our human reason is easily controlled by our sinful nature, and sin is powerful, it works behind the scenes, quietly putting all sorts of clutter in the way; lots of things, things that keep our lives too busy to see that everything we have and everything we need comes from his love for us; clutter that heaps up until the things that clutter our lives become more important than the one who provides them to us.

Our sinful nature just loves it when we use our own wisdom to solve the problems of life; because when we use our own ‘sin corrupted’ wisdom, the solutions we come up with are corrupted by sin too.  And when the solution is corrupted, it only fixes things temporarily.

But temporary or not, in our wisdom we press on, coming up with new and better solutions when the old ones fail.  We keep seeking, searching, but our sin makes us look in all the wrong places.  Our reason tells us that we can find solutions by looking at good examples, and so we look to people we admire and we model ourselves after them, but sooner or later they fail us … because they’re sinners too.

We look to other religions, reasoning that God’s put at least some part of the truth in all religions.  We look at books on self improvement, self enlightenment; we try all sorts of things, but none of them last; none of them bring lasting peace, lasting joy.

We need to look to God for the answers.  We need to use our wisdom for what God intended.  We need to read his holy Word in faith, trusting in it, not critically analyzing its validity, but seeking to understand how it applies to our lives.  We need a childlike faith that trusts in God and prays to him for the answers.

The only way to overcome the challenges of this life is through faith, faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Of course our reason tells us it’s not logical to let God be in charge.  We can do this ourselves. Our reason tells us to look somewhere else, everywhere else; but as far as the eye can see, the world is filled with corruption.  Sin has corrupted all of creation.  We can’t find a solution to our problems there, not in created men, not in created things.

Salvation, the ultimate solution to all our problems, comes through Christ alone; not from anything made or left unmade by man, not by anything we do or don’t do, but by the grace of God alone.  That’s why it was necessary, that’s why it was good, right, and salutary that God’s only Son came down from heaven and became a man; bringing God’s grace and mercy.  That’s why he had to suffer and die on a cross; in our place, with our sins upon him, because that was the only way to overcome the challenges of this world, the sin in this world, the prince of this world; the only way to deliver God’s grace.  And in his death and resurrection, Christ Jesus did just that.

In his death and resurrection, all our sins were forgiven, the power of Satan was destroyed and with him sin and death were conquered forever.  We didn’t figure this out using our wisdom; no, it was all revealed to us through faith, childlike faith; faith that was given to us by the Holy Spirit.  There’s no amount of clutter, no amount of lies and deceits that can cover his glory, no amount of misdirection coming from human invention that can turn us away from him any more.

God has given us the faith we need to believe in him, and believing in him we know him; believing in him we see him clearly despite all the challenges that threaten to distract us.  In childlike faith, we see the Son, because by that faith God recreates us and sin no longer blinds us, sin no longer clouds our lives.

God has opened our eyes to a new life, a life that’s ours right now.  Through his Word and Sacraments, God’s gifts are ours today.  From his throne at the right hand of his Father, Christ showers us with blessings that are new every morning of our lives.  With his own body and blood he strengthens us to keep us in his kingdom, from this day forward and all the way to eternal life with him.

Life is filled with major struggles that distract us and wear us down; and our wisdom tells us that it’s up to us to solve these problems, on our own.  But when we use our wisdom alone, life becomes one big blur, and we lose sight of our Lord; we forget he’s even there.  By giving us childlike faith, he reestablishes contact with us; and through faith, not human wisdom, the clutter gets cleared away.

Faith is the key that opens our eyes to reveal our Savior to us; to see that he’s come to us, righteous and having salvation; to see that he’s come to us filled with power that destroys sin and death; to see that he’s come to us, giving us childlike faith, so that, just like a little child, we trust in him for the answers, because, of ourselves, we’re too smart for our own good.  Amen.

In Christ’s service,

Pastor Huelle