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Reform Magazine | November 29, 2023

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Chapter & verse: Matthew 10:26-31

Chapter & verse: Matthew 10:26-31

John McNeil Scott on the challenge of speaking secrets

Jesus knew the power of secrets. He knew that what is not said can be as powerful as what is uttered. He knew that not speaking could bring necessary and temporary safety. That silence – when speech is called for – makes space for evil to put down roots. In this Bible passage, Jesus makes it sound simple: ‘What you hear in the dark, whispered, tell on the rooftops.’

The Master could be strategic and practical in a way that his zealot contemporaries were not. Who knows, maybe that carefulness won him a public ministry of three years instead of 30 days. Perhaps he followed his own advice to be innocent as a dove and as wise as serpents.

The plain words of Jesus, as Matthew sets them down for us, sit with the so-called ‘messianic secret’ of Mark – those times where again and again Jesus charges his friends to keep the secret of who he is, until the time is right.

Here, we find Jesus at a pivotal point in his ministry. More than an event in his individual pilgrimage towards Jerusalem, it’s the point where this solitary apocalyptic rabbi begins to gather a group of followers and to entrust them with an ethos and a mission. Jesus summoned his followers and gave them authority over demons. He gave them power over disabling – even demonic – secrets. And then Jesus sent them out with a mission to speak hopeful truth: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’. It was a mission of healing as Jesus’ followers encountered suffering, disease and difficulty. Most of all, it was a mission of courageous truth-telling…


This is an extract from an article that was published in the October 2018 edition of  Reform

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