Disclaimer: I was slightly confused by the line and wanted to make sure I was right and asked my dad about it. My mind is churning with things, and I tried to spit some of it out as I’m processing. Hopefully it will make sense.
Wisdom is justified by her deeds – Matt. 11:19
I’ve never noticed this part of chapter 11 before, but it stuck out to me this time around in Matthew, reminding me of basically the entire book of Proverbs, but this in particular:
“Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks” – Pro. 1:20-21
The concept of wisdom has always intrigued me, and how evident it is in the Bible that worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom are different, but that Godly wisdom is something we should seek. She is “calling out” for us to listen, yet so often her calls go unheeded. And Job 28 talks about how “the fear of the Lord” is wisdom, and that it is not found any other way on the earth or the heavens. So now Jesus is referring to wisdom’s deeds. Interest piqued.
The deeds that Jesus mentions wisdom is justified here, is the same word that Matthew uses in 11:2 when John is asking about the deeds Jesus is doing: εργον (ergon), which means in this context “the deeds that reflect a moral character.” In this case, it is the character of God. Point being, the reference of the deeds Jesus did – the blind see, lame walk, lepers are cleaned, deaf hear, dead rise, and poor have hope – are actions that reflect the wisdom of God.
Interestingly, it is also in reference to John’s deeds that Jesus speaks in verse 19. Both of them were different, one ate and drank, the other didn’t, but their deeds still pointed to the evident fact that God was working through them to display his kingdom. Different styles of leadership, same end result. (hint for future committee) God will work in whatever way he sees fit, it will look different as it manifests in different people. It is a sobering concept, but also a joyful one as it reminds me that God can indeed use me as well in spreading his glory.
What kills me is that right after that we get a list of people who saw the deeds and didn’t believe. I mean, if I saw all that stuff, I’m not sure what I’d do, but I think I’d be rather tempted to believe the person doing them. Especially the dead rising one. But even seeing the deeds of John would have made me pause to think.
This concept of actions reflecting the heart from which they are poured out comes back again in chapter 12 when Jesus talks about how a tree is known by its fruit. If our deeds are an outflow of what is in our hearts, all the more reason to make sure we fill our hearts and our minds with good things instead of evil!
I realize there are so many things in these chapters I didn’t touch on, but I didn’t want to ramble for 20 more paragraphs….