In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth…
The babe is the representative of the receptive spirit. Its characteristic is trust, openness to impression, and freedom from prejudice. The disciples were babes who lay open to the Divine message, and did not interpose theories and traditions. They were poor and knew it, and were willing to become rich. To them God revealed. But the revealing to a certain disposition is of necessity the hiding from its opposite.
I. TO REVEAL TO BABES HARMONIZES WITH GOD'S CHARACTER AS A FATHER AND ILLUSTRATES IT. "Babe" is the counterpart to "Father" — "wise and understanding" has no such relation. The wise and understanding might have a special relation to an almighty Taskmaster, an infinite Schoolmaster and Prizegiver; but certainly not to an infinite Father. A father's heart is not attracted to the brilliance or power in his family, but to the want. The gospel is salvation by the free gift of God. Any true conception of the evil of sin, and its effects on the soul, renders other ideas of salvation incredible. We call God Father, and ask His forgiveness. Salvation by grace is bound up with the Divine arrangement, which reveals to babes. The distinction of the babe is just here — he is adapted to salvation by grace.
II. IT GLORIFIES GOD AS LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH TO REVEAL TO BABES. That God is Lord of heaven and earth makes His lowliness not less, but more needful and credible. The more you extend the empire of God, the more necessary it is for the heart to feel that God is lowly, and to have abundant proof of it. The higher and mightier you conceive God to be, the less it will appear credible to you that He should show preference to force of any kind.
III. BY REVEALING TO BABES THE FATHER AND LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH MANIFESTS THE SUPREMACY OF THE MORAL ELEMENT. What a calamity it would have been if the highest blessing had been in any way specially associated with intellectual qualities. This would have been to confirm and glorify the false estimate already so prevalent and so disastrous. But when God passes by the soaring imagination, the lofty intellect, the keen understanding, and puts His main blessing into the lowly heart and open spirit, when He comes down to the very lowest form of the moral and spiritual, the mere sense of want, the mere hunger for better things, and gives infinite eternal wealth to that — what a rebuke He conveys to pride of intellect; what honour He confers upon plain heart and conscience. Now is the false judgment of the world reversed. Now substance is put in place of show. Now spirit is exalted over form. Now right is put on the royal seat.
IV. IT GLORIFIES GOD AS FATHER AND LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH TO REVEAL TO BABES; FOR IT SHOWS HIS DESIRE TO REVEAL AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, AND TO AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. Had God then revealed to the wise and understanding, He would have hidden from the world as a whole. By revealing to babes He gives hope to universal humanity. The babe slumbers in every soul however artificial or proud, and may be wakened up by some simple touch of pathos, or glimpse of memory, as well as by disaster. God who reveals to babes shows that it is man himself that He wants, not man's accomplishments, not man's energies, and distinctions and elevations, but man.
V. THE APPOINTMENT OF A PERSONAL SAVIOUR GLORIFIES GOD AS FATHER AND LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, AND IS PECULIARLY ADAPTED TO BABES. Jesus is the typical original Babe, the perfect, infinite example of the receptive spirit; therefore He reveals the Father, and is the refuge of men and the rest for the weary. On account of the very vastness of the lordship of heaven and earth a person is needed to bring God near, to show that it is a lordship, and not a mere system; and that there is a heart at the centre. The gospel is salvation by a person. Trust in Christ saves us. This suits the babes, and, therefore, at bottom, all men.
(J. Leckie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
WEB: In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight."