Older folks may recall the tv game show called
I’ve Got a Secret, which aired for
15 years from
A guest would come on the show with something unique about themselves and the panel had to ask questions trying to guess the secret.
Humans seem to love secrets.
In fact, if we are told a secret, we can’t wait until the first opportunity to share that secret with someone else who also loves secrets.
Of course, we won’t do that unless we vow them to secrecy first—the same way we promised to keep the secret when it was given.
We can keep secrets from each other when we want to; and some people are even able to keep a secret that is revealed to them—in spite of what I said before.
Some people even try to keep something secret from God so that He doesn’t know about it.
Of course, we know in our heart of hearts that is an exercise in futility; still we try to deceive ourselves into thinking otherwise.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
God knows our innermost being. He knows what makes us tick.
There is no secret that we can keep from the Lord about anything.
We have all heard the modern adage that says “Payday someday,” which means that it will certainly catch up with you.
Some call it karma; or what goes around comes around.
Moses said it this way.
But if you will not do so, behold,
you have sinned against the LORD,
and be sure your sin will find you out.
The Lord knows us. He knows you inside and out. There is nothing we can hide from Him, as Jesus said.
Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed,
or hidden that will not be known.
These verses each have to do with our secret sins, but there is another aspect of the Lord’s knowledge of us that is revealed in our gospel reading this morning.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother
and wife and children and brothers and sisters,
yes, and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
We read these statements as hard requirements of those who want to follow the Lord.
Is it literally true that I must hate my family in order to be a true disciple of the Lord?
That is certainly how it appears from these sayings of Jesus.
In trying to dance around the harshness of these words, some have said that what Jesus meant was by way of comparison.
In other words, you must love Him more than you love your family.
That sounds nice, but it waters down the words of Jesus as recorded here.
I think it is possible that Jesus was using a certain psychology on His hearers for a reason.
When people discover something good, something that everyone around them is talking about, they naturally want to be a part of that.
A good salesman will paint a picture of how great you will be if you just do like everyone else and buy his product.
One insurance company I worked for used something like that in their opening line with a new prospect.
We would say, “I believe this will interest you also,” and then go into our spiel.
Jesus understood this human characteristic to want to be in on the next big thing.
An example of this is given in Matthew’s gospel account.
And a scribe came up and said to him,
“Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Another of the disciples said to him,
“Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
These two were volunteers, looking to join up with the exciting band of disciples who were getting to witness all the miracles up close and personal.
Jesus did not tell them no, they couldn’t follow Him.
He told them to consider what they were asking. It might not be as exciting as they were hoping.
Most of us would have said to the volunteers, “Sure. Come on. Let’s go.”
But Jesus tried to discourage them.
Maybe it was because Jesus understood the human frame.
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast,
many believed in his name
when they saw the signs that he was doing.
But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them,
because he knew all people
and needed no one to bear witness about man,
for he himself knew what was in man.
Jesus knew what was in man, what made him tick, how they thought.
He knew it was not wise to commit Himself to them in any way.
Even though we may think of Jesus as being outgoing and gregarious, I think that He often played His cards close to His chest, (if you understand the idiom.)
He wouldn’t let everyone know what He was thinking.
He probably knew that people who volunteer based on the excitement of the moment seldom last long enough to make it through the tough times.
We see that in many marriages today.
Jesus saw this possibility as He looked at the crowds following Him and told them how hard it would be to follow Him.
He purposely discouraged them from wanting to join His little band.
That is not the way we do things, though, is it?
We do everything we possibly can to promote ourselves and the work we are doing.
We talk about it. We post it on Facebook.
We take pictures of ourselves doing the work.
Jesus worked in exactly the opposite direction.
We find seven accounts in the gospels where it is recorded that
he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
Most of what Jesus said and did goes contrary to the way we think things should be.
I call these the paradoxical principles of the kingdom.
be humble in order to be exalted.
Give and you will receive.
Die so that you might live.
None of these make any sense to the natural man, but as you grow spiritually, you begin to understand.
Why didn’t Jesus just make things plain at the outset?
Why did He have to make things difficult to understand so that we had to think and meditate before gaining understanding?
I believe it was because He was a master teacher.
A master teacher doesn’t tell you what to think.
A master teacher will teach you HOW to think.
In our society today, however, people become very upset if thinking is required of them.
Of the more than 100 questions put to Jesus, He only directly answered three of them.
For the others, He either asked a question or replied with a parable.
You may say, “Yeah, but that was a different time. People were different then.”
Yes, they were. They were mostly uneducated people who didn’t have a wide range of knowledge about the world.
And yet, Jesus realized that making them think was the better way to go.
Recall the time Jesus recommended that everyone become cannibalistic.
So Jesus said to them,
“Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you have no life in you.
We have come to understand what He meant with these words because we have had them explained to us.
But put yourself in that place when He said these words.
What did the people hear?
When many of his disciples heard it, they said,
“This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
There is no record that Jesus went running after them saying, “Wait! Let me explain.”
In fact, He did just the opposite. He left them alone with their confusion.
So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Most of us are intent on trying to understand many things and how they might apply or what they might look like.
We are not very comfortable with mystery.
We want answers. We want solutions.
And we want them NOW!
But that is not how the Father works with us.
We are left in the dark on many things so that our understanding only comes much later after the fact.
However, Jesus did leave us a clue as to why we may have a difficult time understanding the mysteries.
“I thank you, Father,
that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding
and revealed them to little children;
yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
Do you remember what He said about becoming like little children?
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
What is it about children that applies to what we are saying today?
They certainly ask questions. They can ask A LOT of questions.
But, what is their response when the answer from an adult is “I don’t know”?
Generally, they accept it and go on to whatever they were doing.
Can we become like little children and simply accept the fact that there are mysteries which we may never understand?
Can we also recognize that if we would give up our pursuit of trying so hard to understand, then we might just be given the revelation we need to set everything straight?
I want to encourage you this morning to not give up on your questions, but to give up on the pressure you may put on yourself in trying to understand.
Jesus allowed the questions and asked a question in return so as to make the questioner think more deeply about what they had asked.
Let your questions become the focal point of your meditations, and in due time, the Holy Spirit will reveal to you what you need to know as you need to know it.
We have that promise from Jesus.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,
Notice that He said “GUIDE”.
You will be given the opportunity to see and to understand.
But the answers will not be given to you.
A guide takes you into places with which you may be unfamiliar; but he doesn’t make you see the things around you.
That is up to you.