Why Not Act in Secret?


John 7:1   After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. 2 Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; 4 for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 (For not even his brothers believed in him.) 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. 8 Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.


Jesus’ disciples wanted him to go to Jerusalem and show off his power. The things they had observed throughout the Galilee were amazing and they knew that he could “wow” the crowds. Imagine their disappointment when he refused to go.  Jesus understood the mission and it was not about him becoming a “superstar” but about him being the suffering servant. Working in secret was fine with him because it would help him to fulfill his mission.


The disciples made a wrong assumption. They thought that Jesus wanted to be widely known, but what he wanted was to provide a pathway for salvation for all of humanity. Jesus was the one who was willing to pour himself out for others so that they might be saved. None of this was about him gaining attention or acceptance by the officials. He didn’t need the approval of anyone but his heavenly Father for the work that he was doing. 

If Jesus is our example and we are to be following after him, then there is no need for us to receive attention or applause for the things that we do that resemble him. Why not take great pride and joy in acting in secret? It’s in that space that we bring a smile to the face of our heavenly Father. 

God’s people are to be engaged in reflecting Christ and participating in Jesus’ good works. He went out preaching, teaching and healing. As we engage with the world we, too, are to be Jesus’ instruments used to share the good news of the gospel, to teach and disciple those growing in Christ, and to bring about healing. What that looks like is different in every circumstance, but we move forward faithfully, not worried about getting any credit. 

Often the most faithful servants of the Lord are those who have quietly gone about doing their work without anyone ever noticing. They are the ones who stick it out in a particular situation for the long haul, making it through the good days and the not so good days. They love God more than they love the applause of the world. Embracing Jesus, they stay behind because they don’t want their acts to be widely known. Why not act in secret? This becomes a comfortable place in which to live, quietly, day by day, following Jesus, reflecting him in the simple and ordinary things of life. 


Lord, help me to live my life so that you are glorified in the secret spaces and moments. Amen. 


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