If someone were to ask you to name the five wisest people you know, who would you choose? Perhaps a favorite teacher who passed on to you a love for learning and discovery.
Perhaps your father or mother, who guided you through so many challenges as you grew up. Perhaps your parish priest, whose counsel and guidance helped you through a difficult time in your life.
When we think of people of wisdom, we tend to think of those who have an ability to make sense out of complex ideas, or who can find their way through a challenging situation. Their insights help to guide us when we feel lost, and they have an uncanny ability to rise above the everyday demands of life and see the world in a new perspective. We say someone is wise if he or she can plot a new course of action that no one had thought of before—a way of doing things that is innovative, and that solves problems we once thought were insurmountable.
If this is how wise people think, then who could possibly be more wise than God? So let's take a look at the wisdom of God. Let's get a glimpse of how he sees the world, as well as the intricacies of his plan for creation.
The Wisdom of God’s Creation. Have you ever thought about the way things hold together in creation? The earth can sustain life only under certain specific conditions. If the angle at which our planet revolves around the sun were to shift only five degrees, the resulting earthquakes and tidal waves would be catastrophic. The earth is about 93 million miles from the sun. If we were just one million miles closer to the sun or one million miles further from it, we would either be burnt to a cinder or become a frozen chip in space. And yet, the earth has stayed its course for millions of years.
On a smaller scale, our bodies function just as marvelously. The span of our years has been greatly extended. Yet if we were to stop breathing for just three minutes, the consequences would be disastrous. In God’s great wisdom, we are designed to breathe automatically and regularly, without even having to think about it. If our body temperature goes up by even one degree, it is an indication of sickness. Such a delicate balance—and we don’t maintain it ourselves!
God’s Magnificent Wisdom. It is in this order, harmony, and design of creation that we can see the wisdom of God most clearly. Everything has a specific role. Nothing is arbitrary. God has given every single element a function which—however small—contributes to the beauty and harmony of all that surrounds us. Everything works together in a way that enables us to live and grow and flourish. And to add to the wonder of it all, God designed this beautiful creation in a way that lifts our minds to him, the One who created it all out of love.
If all creation witnesses so powerfully to the wisdom of God, what can we say about Jesus, the Word through whom all the universe was created and is sustained? Just try to imagine how much more he embodies God’s infinite wisdom. Here he is, a man like us in all things but sin—and yet he is the eternal, unchanging, infinite Wisdom of God in human form. And what does Scripture say about Jesus, God’s wisdom?
It was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10)
So God chose a course of action that seemed completely foolish to the world. Who would give up his only son for a group of sinners? But this is the wisest thing God could possibly do. Why? Because in the cross God revealed the depths of his love. It is a revelation that has the power to pierce our hearts and bring us to conversion. The cross of Christ is the wisdom of God simply because it works so perfectly! Not only did Jesus die for our sins, he showed us his love in a powerful, unmistakable way.
Wisdom and Goodness. Scripture—as well as our own experience—tells us that the wisdom of God is visible through his creation (Romans 1:20). As we behold the order, beauty, and power of the created world, our hearts and minds would be raised to think about the unseen Creator of all. And with our hearts and minds longing to know the Creator, we would draw closer to him in love and humility, and ask him to bring us into the glory of his presence forever.
But beholding the beauty of creation was never meant to be sufficient. God is so different from us that nothing in this world could completely reveal his love. Moreover, sin had so darkened our minds and separated us from God that we could not come to know the depths of his wisdom on our own. So in order to reveal himself clearly, in order to make his love and power known to all his people, God took on flesh and walked among us as a man. If we look at it this way, we can see how fitting it was that he would come to us. How else could God bring his goodness to a lost people? How else could he offer to us the glory of heaven? It really was the ultimate wisdom.
In the wisdom he displayed, Jesus revealed the goodness of God. His parables spoke of a father who eagerly awaited his son’s return (Luke 15:20-23) and a king who rejoiced in sharing his wealth with his faithful servants (Matthew 25:14-29). His miracles revealed a longing to deliver those afflicted by sin (Mark 2:1-12), a care for the physical well-being of his people (Matthew 15:32-39), and a longing to set us free from the oppression of the evil one (Luke 8:26-39). In situation after situation, Jesus showed us God’s goodness. He constantly surprises us with the revelation of a God who is so much more generous, kind, and merciful than we can ever imagine.
The Wisdom of the Incarnation. So if God wanted to show us his goodness and bring us to glory, it was fitting that his Son would become a man and reveal the mysteries of heaven to us—mysteries we could never have discovered on our own. But in his Incarnation, Jesus did more than just show us new wisdom. He united himself with us so deeply that he has become our brother. He didn’t just appear in the disguise of a man. He became human. He knew it wouldn’t be enough just to teach us. He had to transform us. And so he took on our nature so that through him, we could receive God’s nature.
It was as a human person, subject to all the temptations that we face (Hebrews 4:15), that Jesus brought about our salvation. By humbly taking on our state and enduring the anguish of a separated and darkened race, he triumphed over sin and death. By his own suffering, Jesus, “the leader of [our] salvation,” was perfected (2:10). He blazed the trail that all men and women are now called to walk, a path of reverent submission to God (5:7) and obedience unto death (Philippians 2:8). Having assumed our condition, he set us free and opened the doors to a new life for all of us (Hebrews 2:14-15).
This is the wisdom behind the Incarnation. Seeing the world from his eternal perspective, God found a way to redeem us that has taken us completely by surprise. He fulfilled his plan to bring us to glory by taking on our lowliness. He defeated our sin not by an overwhelming display of power but by a humble demonstration of goodness and love. Who else but God could have come up with such a plan? Who else but God would have the wisdom and insight to know how to bring a sinful people into his sinless glory?
The Depth of God’s Wisdom. Contemplating the unfathomable plan of the Father for bringing about our salvation, St. Paul was moved to cry out: “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!. . . . For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever” (Romans 11:33,36).
God the all-merciful, God the all-knowing, has acted in perfect wisdom to restore a lost humanity and bring many sons and daughters into his kingdom. Wise beyond all telling and good beyond all measure, he now invites us to embrace his new life. In gratitude and love, let us accept the invitation:
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)