After healing a lame man in Acts 3, Peter and john are brought before the Jewish leaders to explain their actions. After hearing from Peter “that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth … this man stands here before you whole,” the leaders marveled at them.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
When looking at Peter and John, the only exceptional thing the Jewish leaders noticed about them was that they had been with Jesus. Even the people working against Christ’s teachings could recognize that being in His presence had changed these fishermen who would otherwise be considered unremarkable.
Wisdom of the Poor Man
Not surprisingly, a similar thing happened to Jesus. He was not what people expected the Messiah to be, and some people rejected Him because He seemed so ordinary.
And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. (Mark 6:2-3)
These people missed out on knowing the son of God because they rejected the wisdom of the poor man (Ecc. 9:16). All too often, we fall into the trap of rejecting someone because of an unfavorable first impression based on a stereotype rather than actually knowing them. Rejecting someone because of their lack of education and credentials isn’t solely confined to intellectuals, but I’m afraid it’s a trap that educated people might be more likely to fall into than others. I’m very much in favor of education, but I do agree with this quote by Dr. J. Budziszewski: “there are some forms of stupidity that one must be highly intelligent and educated to commit.”
Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (John 7:14-15)
Instead of asking how they could know Jesus better, or listening when He explained that “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me,” the people accused Him of having a demon (John 7:16-20). Seeing this kind of rejection towards Jesus, it should not surprise us if people reject us as well. Christ warned His followers,
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:18-20)
That’s Not Fair
Not only will we be considered ignorant and foolish by the world for our belief in God, but in addition to that we are not usually remarkable by worldly standards before our calling either.
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 27-31)
There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes that I’ve often seen used to talk about how life doesn’t always seem logical or fair that comes to mind in this context.
I returned and saw under the sun that — the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecc. 9:11)
Usually when we talk about the unfairness of life, we only think of what is working against us. But “unfairness” happens in our favor as well. We just read in 1 Corinthians that we’re the weak, base, and poor of the world — where would we be if God only let the swift run the race (Heb. 12:1), only worked with the strong to win battles (Eph. 6:12-12), only fed those who were already wise (Mark. 6:34-42), only gave understanding to rich men (Mark. 10:23-25), and only showed favor to those who are skilled (Ex. 4:10-12)?