The Futility of Man’s Wisdom

I said in my heart, ‘I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.’ And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:16-18)

Why is Jesus True Wisdom?

We have to read Ecclesiastes with three eyes: one on the Fall, one on the text, and one forward to Jesus and the cross, which Scripture says is the starting point of true wisdom.

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:20-25)

Paul highlights why human wisdom fails us. At the root of it is human pride. Kiralee has a habit we are in the process of trying to parent out of her. When we go to put her in her car seat or some other thing, she will quickly insist, “I do it!” We like an independent spirit. But when she insists, we see another thing behind it. I must do it myself. I do it. I think it. I solve it. All of these flow out of man’s most basic problem—the pride that must solve all our problems ourselves.

This is why the real gospel is so offensive and counterintuitive to us. It crushes human pride by not beginning with us, or our effort, wisdom, or reason. It begins with God’s effort and wisdom.

Jesus embodies the truth that mankind needs

Jesus is described in Scripture as the Word, the divine special revelation of God. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Man’s reason is always butting up against logical and philosophical gnarls. Great thinkers like Stephen Hawking search the mathematical universe for the theory of everything. What are they looking for? Truth that explains the universe.

But they never can find it because reason won’t lead man to the answer. God must fill the gaps. And God has by sending his Son into this world. The Word became flesh. The answer became human.

Human wisdom wants to become the answer. But in reality, the answer becomes human.

Jesus solves man’s unsolvable riddle

Jesus addresses the Rubik’s Cube of man’s existence, death. He does so by cutting the line. Like the fisherman who cuts the line and ties on a new line, Jesus cuts the knot away by his death and replaces the line with new line. New life. His perfect life lived for us replaces the tangled and unsolvable knot of our sin and guilt.

The resurrection of Jesus solves what Hawking and Sartre and Nietzsche and Dawkins and Freud and Darwin and great minds of human history could never figure out. Their graves silently speak of the emptiness of human intellectual accomplishment.

Jesus was resurrected on the third day by the power of God and in his resurrection he eliminated death’s ultimate and eternal claim on us. Logic cannot believe in a resurrection because it requires a supernatural act that man cannot do. But that is the gospel. It is foolishness to the prideful and the rational mind of man but is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.

What about you? What keeps you from believing in God’s answer to the riddle of your soul? Must you do it? That’s pride. God requires humility and a repentant spirit who by faith believes Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

The absurdity of life without God can itself motivate us to search for an answer. It has led many to Jesus. Perhaps it will lead you to him too.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

© 2016 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address ( on the copied resource.

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