CLAIM: Jesus says, “No one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Mt. 11:27). Calvinists claim that this passage supports the doctrine of irresistible grace. Is this true?
RESPONSE: This isn’t the case. In fact, in the following verse, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary” (Mt. 11:28). If verse 27 refers to irresistible grace, then this would imply universalism, which is surely false.
This seems like evidence for the judicial hardening of Israel. Remember, Jesus kept telling the people not to share about who he was throughout his gospel. This is sometimes called the “Messianic Secret.” Why would Jesus want to stay “hidden” from people? This is simply because “his time had not yet come.” Once the Jewish and Roman people had him crucified, he would be able to rescue billions of people. Therefore, hardening the people for a few years was well worth it in the long run.
Moreover, this doesn’t preclude the human responsibility of the people. Matthew just recorded a dozen verses describing the hardness of the people’s hearts. Later in this same chapter, Jesus makes the call for “all” who are weary to come to him. So Jesus is make a universal call for people to find him, but only some will take him up on that offer.
Luke’s parallel account of the same event shows that Jesus wasn’t hiding his truth from all of humanity—only those who were hardened: “When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John” (Lk. 7:29-30). Notice that the sinners came to Christ through his words, while the Pharisees did not. The same sun melts butter, but hardens clay.