A Bible Discovery Hiding in Plain Sight
The ad is famous, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!” It speaks to secrets, and each of us has them. Not necessarily something embarrassing; even good things can be held dear.
Jesus also had secrets. Moments He didn’t want told. At least six times in Scripture, Jesus made clear that what happened there, stayed there. His message, “Tell no one …”
Amazingly, within the trail through the Lord’s secrets is a message hiding in plain sight. The only way I know to show it to you is to retrace my steps.
Be patient — there are dead ends. But, I promise you, it’s worth the trek!
My story begins one night with Jesus’ words, “There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:27
That verse befuddles me. What does it mean? Are those people still living 20 centuries later or has the Kingdom already come?
I’ll tell you now that it still confuses me, but this is where I began. And the path led somewhere else.
So, I followed Jesus’ puzzling words to the next verse. Luke immediately says, “About eight days after Jesus said this, He took Peter, John, and James with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray.”
Then Luke tells what happens as they pray, which is fascinating, but none of it seems to relate to the verse.
Back to square one. So now I wondered if that verse was in the other Gospels — maybe there was a better explanation.
Turns out, Matthew and Mark repeat, almost word for word, Jesus’ mysterious words in Luke. And, get this. The mountaintop scene immediately follows those words. Amazing, right? Except nothing appears new in any of that.
But there’s still John. I turned to his Gospel with shining hope.
Nothing about any of this is in John. Nothing — not the verse nor the trip, which makes no sense. On that mountaintop, as Jesus is praying, His face glows as bright as the sun. His clothes become like a flash of lightning. Two Old Testament prophets appear and speak to Jesus. God descends in a cloud and says, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to Him!”
In other words, this is really big, yet John leaves it out. Why would he do that?
So, I began again. Stay with me — you don’t want to miss this!
Scripture tells of three times when Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him. There must be something in one of those passages that would clear this up.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all describe the night before Jesus was crucified. We know Jesus prayed intimately with God.
What does John tell us? You’ll want to sit down — this is unsettling.
It’s not there. John says nothing about the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s as if it never happened.
Stunning. And not in a good way.
The only other time that Jesus took just Peter, James, and John with Him was to the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter. So I started at the beginning of the New Testament and found that resurrection scene in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Honestly, I couldn’t catch my breath as I hurried to see what John had written.
“Is it there? Is it there?” I said it over and over again. Panting — I’m not kidding.
What does John write?
Nothing. Not one word. But the reason is now clear to me, now that I’ve read all those passages.
After Jesus raised the child, Scripture says, “He gave strict orders not to let anyone know.” Mark 5:38-43 (NIV)
Coming down from the mountaintop, Jesus said, “Tell … no one…” Matthew 17:9
In the Garden, Jesus is perhaps at His most vulnerable. Obviously, it was a private conversation with God.
John painstakingly keeps Jesus’ secrets.
Matthew tells how Jesus cures two blind men, and Jesus says, “See that no one knows about this.” Matthew 9:27-31
It’s not in John’s Gospel.
According to Mark, Jesus heals a man both deaf and mute. “Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone.” The Lord healed a blind man at Bethsaida and told him to go home, not into the village where he’d be questioned. Mark 7:31-37, 8:22-26
Again, neither healing is in John’s Gospel. Nor is the man healed of leprosy, whom Jesus had instructed to tell no one. Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 40:1-5, Luke 5:14
But John does talk of Jesus’ miracles. John tells how Jesus cured the son of a royal official. John relays the healing of a lame man at the Bethesda pool as well as a blind man in Jerusalem whose healing the Pharisees question. John 4:46-53; 5:1-14; John 9
But every time the Lord said, “What happens here, stays here,” John omits the incident as if it never happened.
This is the Bible message hidden in plain sight: Without saying a word, John offers to Jesus the finest of gifts — loyalty.
Ask me what I want most in a friend. Loyalty.
Grant such respect to those you love. And, like John, offer this unwavering loyalty to Jesus.
Footnote: Readers have asked what this says about the other disciples. When Jesus descends from the mountaintop, the full verse is that Jesus says not to tell anyone until He is risen from the dead. Matthew 17:9 Perhaps the disciples felt the Resurrection freed them from all the times Jesus gave the message not to tell.
John apparently didn’t feel that way.
There are other things John carefully hides from his readers. See my column on the last words of Jesus and the one concerning Jesus’ family relationship with James and John.
The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at [email protected] (one t in Mathews)
Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews All rights reserved.