The Sunday Sermon: July 6, 2014
The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9-A) – July 6, 2014
The Rev. Thomas Pettigrew, Rector
Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Warrensburg, NY
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Tucked in the middle of our gospel this morning is the line “Wisdom is justified by her deeds.” As I prepared what to say this morning, this phrase stuck in my head. Actually, it made me scratch my head because, it seems like a random, isolated saying. It took me a while to figure out what our Lord is trying to say to us, but with the help of a few commentaries, I hope to share what ive discovered with you this morning.
There’s a good reason, I found out, why I struggled. What we’re dealing with this morning is the difference between God’s wisdom and the wisdom of the world.
In order to help us better understand what’s going on, let me try to put the reading we heard this morning in a little context.
John the Baptist’s disciples came to Jesus, and on John’s behalf they asked him “Ware you the one who is to come or should we look for another.” In other words, are you the promised Christ of God, or have we got you wrong? Jesus replies to them by telling them to look at the deeds which he has been doing: The blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
John’s disciples depart, presumably to return to John with Jesus’ reply. And Jesus turns to the crowds. And talking to them about John, he questions their motives saying, “What did you come out to see? Did you come for a good show, to be entertained, or did you really and truly come to hear and see the power, goodness, and greatness of God?”
You see, Jesus realizes that a lot of these people, particularly those in the upper echelons of the leadership, that is the well-trained scribes and Pharisees, had come out with insincere motives. He realizes that they all have seen the great deeds which God was doing, but rather than opening their eyes and hearts to the power and wisdom of God revealed before them, they find excuses, they use their own logic to find reasons not to believe, even discredit, the works which God was doing through both Jesus and John.
So goes on to say – “We played for you and you did not dance; we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.” For john came neither eating nor drinking and you say he has a demon; the Son of man came eating and drinking and you say a glutton and a drunkard.
And that’s when Jesus throws in that line “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
Throughout the scriptures we see a theme of the difference between The Wisdom of God and the Wisdom of the World.
The Apostle Paul, perhaps, gives us the best insight into the difference in his first letter to the Corinthians.
In talking about the wisdom of God he connects it to the power of God and he tells us that the power of God is found, not in worldly concepts of power but actually in the Power of the Cross.
And he says “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” He goes on to say that the Jews want signs of Gods power like those they saw in the Exodus from Egypt. The Greeks, the great philosophers of the World wanted wisdom according to their eloquent standards. But for those of us who are saved, Christ is for us both the power of God and the wisdom of God.
But God’s wisdom and God’s power are not like the world’s. the Power of God and wisdom of God are found in Jesus on the Cross.
For the Jews, the cross was not the great demonstration of Power that they wanted. For the Greeks, giving life through the death was folly.
But you see, that’s the wisdom and power of God. It’s not what the world expects. It’s not what the world believes to be power.
Paul tells us that’ God choses what is lowly and despised, what is weak, and what is foolish to the world, in order to put to the world to shame.
Through the Wisdom of the Cross, the Wisdom and power of God through Christ, Good deemed to win the victory, not on the world’s terms, but on his terms.
And those terms can, perhaps, be summed up in the word of Love. It was God’s self giving, sacrificial love, which surrendered to the anger and hate of crucifixion, which defeated death, and gave us peace.
But that love, yes, even that cross, demands from you and from me a response. A response that is wise, not with the wisdom of the world, but with a wisdom inspired by the Holy Spirit. And that wisdom is ours through Faith and Humility: only through our willingness to ignore the wisdom of the world and turn to the unexpected power and wisdom of God, the wisdom that over turns the power of this world and transforms us into the children of God and heirs to the kingdom of God.
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.