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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 5/19/2016

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

MATTHEW 11:25-30

25At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

No one would have thought awhile back that God would show up in 20th century European philosophy, let alone in French philosophy. Well, God has, in a branch called French phenomenology. The appearance of God was of such note, that many commentators -- both for and against God's appearance -- called this the "theological turn" in French phenomenology. The key thinker now of this "theological turn" is a Catholic philosopher, Jean-Luc Marion.


Marion's key idea is the givenness of certain phenomenon, before this phenomenon is even registered by our consciousness. And some phenomena have such overwhelming givenness that he calls them "saturated phenomena."


Why is French phenomenology or this French philosopher doing in this devotional?


Recently I purchased Marion's newest book, Givenness and Revelation, that explores the two notions in close relationship. []


Here's the relevance: The central starting point for Christianity is the givenness of revelation. We don't start with evidence, we don't start with a skeptical rationality that requires God to prove Himself. Before any human can consciously register who God is or what Life is, revelation of God is given. This is the "saturated phenomenon" that is Christ Jesus -- an overwhelming reality that outstrips human capacity to fully describe or to fully comprehend. 


Textually, the "these things" in verse 25 might refer to either the significance of Jesus' miracles in vv. 20-24 or Jesus' entire mission, which have been revealed to "infants" (i.e., ordinary folks). But when we get to verse 27 "all things," the "all things" refer to the full revelation of God. Who God the Father is is revealed only by the Son. Who God the Son is is only known and revealed by the Father (through God the Spirit). Therefore in knowing the Son we enter into knowing the Trinity. In knowing the Father we enter into knowing the Son and the Spirit. 


A moment's reflection helps us recognize that the reality of the Triune God preceded any human knowledge because God was there before any created being. We must start all human reflection about us and the world with the givenness that is the Triune God. That's the big "revealed" in the above passage. 


What an incredible, unimaginable gift for us: that we are the "infants" graced with such supernatural revelation of the Triune God who loves us. This gift -- this knowledge and this relationship -- saves us into an everlasting and abundant life beyond our own ability to fully describe or comprehend. 


Let's pray: Father God, we thank you that you have revealed who you truly are through your Son, Christ Jesus. We confess that in seeing the Son, we see the Father, through the agency of the Holy Spirit. This greatest of gifts and the greatest of mysteries -- the reality and the nature of you as the Triune God -- is ground of our being, it's the horizon that sets all horizons, the source of all loves. May we enter with joy and receive love and hope as we commune with you, the Trinitarian God. In Jesus' name, amen.