Monday, July 10, 2017

Proverbs 15:2 --- Making Much of Christ

Proverbs 15:2
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
    but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

During the last week of our Lord's life, John records that some Greeks came to see Jesus.  "Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.  So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus'" (John 12:20-21).  It seems to me the words of these Greeks are important to keep in mind for all those who seek to speak on behalf of the King.  What people need to hear and see are not our opinions.  What people need to hear and see is not human wisdom.  No, what people need to hear and see is the glory of Jesus Christ, especially in his saving work, which was accomplished on the cross.

The desire of the Greeks to see Jesus is relayed to Jesus, and notice our Lord's response.  "Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  And Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit'" (John 12:22-24).  A bit later Jesus says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32).

Our verse today is about commending knowledge, so that people will be attracted to it, and leave their folly.  This word "commends" means to make knowledge seem good, beautiful and glorious, so that people are drawn to it.  This a large part of what Proverbs is trying to do.  It wants people to embrace wisdom, so that they leave their foolishness.  To put it in the language of the preface (chapters 1-9), Solomon's goal is to exalt Woman Wisdom, who stands for the Lord and his worship, so that all will embrace her, leaving Woman Folly behind, who stands for idolatry and sin. 

It is a short jump from Woman Wisdom, to our Lord and our marriage to him.  Jesus is, as Colossians 1:24-2:3 teaches, the mystery, which was hidden in the Old Testament, but is now revealed to us who live after his coming.  In this mystery, Christ, "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).  Therefore, just as Solomon desired to commend, exalt, adorn, beautify, and make pleasant "knowledge" with words, so now Christ Jesus' servants try to exalt him and lift him up with words, so that people will turn from their idols and turn to Christ.

As you can see, I believe this proverb is directed, first and foremost, to Christian ministers and workers.  Ministers need to learn how to use words for the purpose of exalting Christ and lifting him up.  The first thing ministers of the new covenant must learn is that their goal is to exalt Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

Good preaching and teaching points us to Christ, and especially to his cross.  John the Baptist is a great example for us.  In John 1:29, we read of John: "The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'"  The very next day, John's message was the same as he exalted Jesus and pointed to Christ's saving work: "The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God!'" (John 1:35-36).  But on this day, John's preaching drew men to Jesus, for we read, "The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus" (John 1:37).

Probably the main reason John the Baptist could exalt Christ in his preaching was that he himself saw Christ's glory.  In Matthew 3:11, notice the exalted view he has of his Lord:  "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."  When ministers try to exalt Christ, it's not like they are trying to lift him to a place that is not already his!  No, our Lord has been exalted to the highest place and he rules over heaven and earth.  That is the reality of life in heaven and life on earth.  But we do not see it because our eyes are beclouded with unbelief and sin, and it is only faith that can see unseen realities. 

John the Baptist saw Christ's glory, and so later he could say of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).  Not all of us will be great preachers or evangelists, who lift up Christ our King with beautiful and gracious words.  But it definitely won't happen if we do not see our Lord's glory.  It definitely won't happen if we do not see his infinite worth as our Redeemer who saved us, by dying in our place.  It definitely won't happen if we do not see him as high and lifted up by his death, resurrection and ascension to the Father's right hand. 

Good and beautiful words come from "wise" hearts who make much of Jesus, and little of themselves, and this evaluation of both Christ and ourselves is not a fiction, but the reality that faith sees.  Lord Jesus, you must increase, but I must decrease, for your glory and my blessing.  Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share This