“No one ever spoke the way this man does.” (John 7:46)
This was the response of the temple guards to the Pharisees after being sent to arrest Jesus while he was teaching in the temple. Apparently the guards were so struck by what Jesus had to say they decided not to arrest him.
All of the gospel writers report various incidents in which the crowds were “amazed” at the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching. The conventional wisdom of Jesus’ day was strict adherence to the Ten Commandments and the hundreds of sub-requirements that appeared to govern every area of personal conduct.
Jesus turned the conventional wisdom on its head. He simplified the commandments and the many detailed regulations of conduct by declaring that love of God and neighbor was the most important requirement. He expanded the definition of love by equating being angry with a brother with the prohibition against murder. He said that any man who looked at a woman lustfully had already committed adultery in his heart.
Instead of a system prescribing punishment for violation of the Jewish law, Jesus offered promises of happiness for those who are humble in spirit, mourn for their sins, hunger for righteousness, show mercy, serve as peacemakers, and are pure in heart and persecuted for righteousness.
What makes a person wise?
Both Isaiah and St. Paul put wisdom as the first of several gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Isaiah 11:2; 1 Co. 12:8)
As a young lawyer for a large international oil company in the late 60’s, our company and several others were sued by a plaintiff in southeast Missouri for price manipulation in the sale of gasoline. I retained an experienced antitrust trial lawyer out of St. Louis to represent our company in the local court where the case was filed.
Because there were so many defendants, we had to have meetings of defense counsel to develop our strategy in handling the case. These meetings would be attended by more than twenty lawyers, all competing to advance what they considered to be the best defense strategy in the case. Some of the lawyers could become a bit arrogant and aggressive in our discussions. In contrast, I noticed that our lawyer would always wait until the other lawyers had their say, and then humbly offer suggestions that would totally alter the prior discussions and end up being the strategy that the group adopted.
As a young lawyer just a couple of years out of law school, I learned a lot about wisdom from our trial counsel who went on to be appointed to the U. S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the only person ever to serve as Director of both the FBI and CIA.
Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.”