Matthew 13:10-11 “The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’ He replied, ‘The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you…’”
The word “secret” Jesus uses is from a word often translated “mystery” in the New Testament. For the people of Jesus’ day, a “mystery” wasn’t a crime that needed to be solved, like the story in an Agatha Christie novel or a Scooby Doo cartoon. It was something for which you needed inside information to understand.
We might compare it to an inside joke. You may hear someone say something that doesn’t sound funny to you, but others around you start laughing. They all know something that you don’t. The kind of “secret” or “mystery” Jesus is speaking of here isn’t funny, but it is something for which you need some “inside information” to understand.
The “secrets of the kingdom of heaven” started with faith and understanding that Jesus himself is God’s Son, the promised Savior. His word is the key to understanding how God’s kingdom works, how one becomes a member, how that kingdom spreads to others. These were the truths Jesus taught in his parables, truths he taught in straightforward ways in other places.
The fact that these truths are “secrets” or “mysteries” teaches us that our grasp of these things is a gift given to us by God. We would not understand them on our own. We are no smarter than Peter, Andrew, James, or John. Doesn’t that say something to us about the way that we conduct ourselves as we share Bible truths with others?
We were not the authors of the Bible truths that we believe, nor are we responsible for coming up with the faith and understanding we have. Left to ourselves, we would be mystified. It is right for us to be concerned about preserving the truths of the Bible as our Savior has given them to us, but we have no excuse for selfish pride if we retain that truth today. The secret you and I have been given is a gift from someone else.
Then let’s not forget the content of that secret. “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you.” The information Jesus is interested in sharing has an otherworldly ring to it. To put it as the Apostle Paul once did, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). There are those who want to turn the Bible into the handbook for everything about life in this world. Little emphasis is placed on the help it gives to get us out of this world and into the next. In your Christian book store you can find books that try to use the Bible as a guide to healthier eating and savvier investing. Those secrets are best found somewhere else. Jesus is more interested in insider training than he is in insider trading.
Nothing can be more practical than the secret we have been given: knowing what to do with our guilt or how to find the solution to the problem of our impending death. Nothing could be more beautiful than the solutions that Jesus’ secrets provide. The kingdom of heaven is not a place where God just sits as king while everyone else does all the work. It is found wherever God himself is working. He is the one sweating blood, enduring insults, and finally gasping his last breath in death on the cross to pay for my sins. He is the one who inhabits the gospel words that worm their way into our hearts and overwhelm us with his love. He makes his message spring and grow into a living faith and active love. He is the one changing my life now, and promising that an even better one is waiting when this one ends.
Some secrets are meant to be kept. Jesus’ secrets are meant to be shared. Don’t be afraid to let it spill.