At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”
So, we might ask, does this mean that the ‘wise and prudent’ are not going to heaven? Well…no and yes.
What does Jesus tell us about rich men and the pathway to heaven? In the Synoptic Gospels he says…
…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Why is that? Well, it’s an issue of mammon…Jesus has something to say about that as well…
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
A rich man, by definition, has mammon…a lot of it. Of course, it’s not a question of how much mammon you have, but how much mammon has of you. The wealth of the rich man is not, in and of itself, either evil or a sin. But if his treasure is laid up on earth, where he has to guard it, as opposed to treasure in heaven, where Jesus watches over it for him, then the rich man is tending to his mammon and not to Jesus…he won’t be entering heaven. He is serving his mammon, as opposed to his mammon serving the Kingdom of God.
The mammon issue, however, isn’t just about what we usually think of as ‘wealth.’ Mammon takes many forms. It can be the opinion we hold of ourselves…or that others hold of us. It can be “ the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’” It can be tight worldview and precise theology which, come to think of it, sounds a lot like “wise and prudent.”
So, just like the rich man, it can be more difficult for the ‘wise and prudent’ to enter into heaven, to ‘understand these things.’ He is ‘rich’ in wisdom and prudence; hence he has his own ‘needle-eye’ to deal with. The question for him is the same as for the rich man: ‘who’s serving who?’ Is the wise and prudent serving his wisdom and prudence (which really means he is serving himself and it’s all about him), or is that wisdom and prudence serving Christ? Does it buttress his trust-of-babes in Christ, or impede it?
Father, by Holy Spirit, give us wisdom and prudence, the craft of serpents, but make it always serve a simple trust-of-babes in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen