Persuasion by logic and wisdom is not sufficient to bring about spiritual repentance and submission. A person must morally choose to submit his will to God’s and may or may not be convinced that their choice is the intellectually sound thing to do.
I have had the opportunity to visit with a number of atheists and agnostics—and many religious folks who behave like atheists and agnostics. What’s fascinating about our discussions is that the fact of Jesus Christ is not disputed. Intellectually, Jesus is just as obvious as Caesar, Alexander, Henry VIII, or Lincoln. But the apologetics of Christianity are not sufficient to create salvation. Faith is not a matter of intellectual belief. It is also a matter of moral assent.
Mathew gives an example of this citing the religious leaders’ reaction to Jesus’ teaching: “And hearing this, they marveled” (22:22). Yet, marveling wasn’t sufficient to convince them of Jesus’ divinity and prompt them to declare Him their Lord. Only God’s Spirit and a willful capitulation by man can bring this about. These leaders challenged Christ, going head to head with Him over issues concerning the Law. Jesus answered their questions and posed others to challenge their thinking. They marveled, but didn’t convert.
You would think these men would return home, wrestle with the inescapable fact that Jesus had tied them in an intellectual and religious knot, and either ask more questions or change their beliefs. You would expect religious leaders to be intellectually honest. You would like to believe thinking people would abandon a sinking ship full of spiritual holes. You would think, but such is not the case.
Why? What was the impediment if not intellectual? That's next.