10:26 'So do not be afraid of them. Everything now covered up will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.
10:27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.’
These words are a part of Jesus’ Mission Speech which occupies almost the whole tenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. In the beginning of this chapter Jesus appoints twelve apostles. They are called by name (10:2-4). Thereafter he gives them instructions as to how to behave during their mission.
In the verses 26-31 we hear the word ‘(don’t) be afraid’ four times. Perhaps the translation ‘(do not) fear’ is more suitable.
26: ‘Do not fear them’ [= those who will call you ‘devils’].
28: ‘Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul...’
28: ‘... rather fear the one who can destroy both body and soul...’
31: ‘Do not fear!’
Only God deserves our ‘fear’, our deepest ‘respect’.
What does Jesus mean by the words of the verses 26-27: we need not fear, because what is hidden will be uncovered? Does he mean that now – in our time, in this world – God’s presence is hidden? In the turbulence of everyday life in our busy world? And that at the end of time will be uncovered how God was present in the midst of all that?
Jesus explains, ‘What I say to you in the dark...’ What does he mean with the word ‘dark’? In Matthew’s Gospel we hear this word only twice. Here and in 4:16. There Matthew is citing verses from the prophet Isaiah (9:1), ‘The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light.’ Is Jesus speaking to the Twelve about the ‘darkness’ of the people in unbelief?
Or is he simply speaking about the secrecy of the heart? What I say to you in the silence of your prayer... This interpretation makes sense as well. In that case Jesus is emphasizing that our Christian life and the announcement of the Gospel have to be based upon the inspiration of our prayer; upon the personal relation I have with him... or better: upon the relation he has with me.
The artist divides the picture into two parts. The lower part is taken by two persons: Jesus (left) and the disciple (right). Looking at Jesus’ hand I conclude that he is teaching. The right hand of the disciple seems to express that he is receiving.
Their heads are very close to each other. Relationship. Intimacy. Prayer. I notice that the cloth of the disciple already has almost the same colour as Jesus’ cloth does.
In the background I see just a glimpse of the deep blue sky. The artist interprets ‘the dark’ as the presence of heaven!
Is it an illustration of my prayer?
Do I recognize myself in this disciple?
The upper part is almost totally taken up by the disciple who is preaching what he heard in the lower part. The right hand which was receiving in the lower part now accompanies the words he is speaking.
In the background we don’t see the deep blue heaven anymore, but a cloudy sky. Symbol of our world where God’s word is still mingled with other norms and values?
The disciple is leaning over the edge of his pulpit looking down upon two people who are listening. According to their hands and heads they are eager to receive, in their turn.
Little people! The ones who were so important in Jesus’ eyes. Only two of them. Not very spectacular. But even in the lower part, there was only one disciple. If these two little ones become disciples as well, then maybe there will be four listeners and receivers later. And so on.
Could I be that disciple? Or am I already? In what sense?
Or am I rather one of the two little ones?
Finally I have a talk with (one of) the little ones; with the disciple in the upper part; with the disciple in the lower part; with Jesus himself; or with the One whose words Jesus is speaking.