Matthew 11:26

ESV yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
NIV Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
NASB Yes, Father, for this way was well pleasing in Your sight.
CSB Yes, Father, because this was your good pleasure.
NLT Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!
KJV Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

What does Matthew 11:26 mean?

While talking to the crowds around Him, Jesus turns to speak with God the Father in heaven. It is a prayer of thanks. He thanks God for hiding the truth about His role as Messiah and the coming kingdom from those who are wise and understanding according to the world's standards. He thanks the Father for revealing those truths to little children—in this context, meaning those who are either dismissed by the world, or those who trustingly accept Him without ulterior motives (Matthew 18:1–5).

This raises a natural, very human question: is that fair? Our natural reaction to the idea is negative. Why would God hide something essential from anyone?

First, note that this Scripture doesn't specify whether God is taking extra steps—making things excessively difficult—or whether He's "hiding" things in the sense that He simply chooses not to overcome a person's own arrogant, willful ignorance. Earlier, Jesus criticized the attitude some people had, where no matter what they saw, they would simply demand the opposite (Matthew 11:16–19).

Second, Scripture gives examples of God allowing people to make free choices, and then—based on those choices—magnifying their stubbornness in order to make an example. The Pharaoh who initially refused to allow Israel to leave Egypt (Exodus 7:22; 8:15, 32) was later punished by God actively hardening his heart (Exodus 9:12; 10:20; 14:8).

In either case, "fairness" is not the issue. A major factor is humility. Those who reject the evidence God gives are not being sincere (Romans 1:18–20). Children express candid trust based on what they see and are told. Adults have a greater habit of manipulating their own thoughts in order to protect their preferences.

It's also important to note that God's will is "gracious," according to Jesus. Since all people are sinners (Romans 3:10), nobody deserves good from God. That He reveals Himself to anyone, at all, is an act of grace on His part. The fact that anyone would see His power on display—as did many in Israel—and still refuse to believe is an act of foolish arrogance.
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