“At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 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.’” (Matthew 11:25)
To say that something has been revealed by God means that it could not have been known any other way. What once was hidden has been made known in the man, Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the fullest revelation and the truest revealer of all that God wishes to uncover for humanity’s benefit. Likewise, the apostles of Jesus claimed that their teachings proceeded from that same source. As Paul wrote, “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:4-5). A thing once hidden is now known, only because God revealed it.
This understanding highlights the greatest danger to the Bible reader. We are constantly tempted to interpret Scripture through the lens of what we already believe to be true. We are pulled toward the proud assessment that God could never say anything other than what we already desire to be reality. We are lured to forget the simple verity: If truth is now revealed, then it was once hidden. If what every human should believe was already deep within their heart, then there would have been no need for God to shine His light into the world and reveal anything further.
“Everything is beautiful in its moment, but the ripening is hidden from your mind, and you cannot comprehend beginnings or endings.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, translation by Rabbi Rami Shapiro)1
When we read Scripture and learn about the Son of God, we must be willing for God to reveal to us what was hidden in days gone by. We must also be willing for God to reveal to us what remains hidden from the world that works so diligently to remain in darkness. Every time we say, “I don’t think it could mean that,” we are denying the revelatory power of Scripture. We are denying to the Light of Men, Jesus of Nazareth, his role of shining brightly in the mind and heart.
Nowhere is this more challenging than when Jesus issues a moral teaching. When Jesus says that some action is wrong, we flinch and beg him to mean something different. We often decide that he could not have meant what he has said. Maybe we even conclude that while it might have been true in its own day, it could not possibly be true today. In so doing, we run from the light back into darkness. If we believe that Jesus, his teachings, and his inspired apostles, offer us the revelation of God’s will, then we must be willing to hear a word we do not like, and follow the light unflinchingly. Otherwise, we are treating him and his teachings, not as revelation, but as dimly lit mirrors for our own human desires.
“No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.” (Quote often attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien)