Commentators are not in sync when it comes to the meaning behind this one. Jesus is speaking to his disciples regarding the Pharisees; they were hypocrites. We’ve all known them. Probably we’ve seen many of them fall flat on their faces. Some march on in life thinking they have it made and that no one will discover their secrets. Do not despair my friend for Jesus taught they will be discovered, and not only discovered, but it will be proclaimed from the rooftops! This was a way of declaring news to the community in societies that were much more oral in nature than we are today. It’s like your personal dirty laundry, your darkest secrets appearing on the front of the newspaper, being a feature on the 10 o’clock news, or going viral on social media. Yikes!
We think we can hide but God sees. God sees and knows it all. Thankfully God also loves and calls us to repentance. God forgives. This is the most freeing experience in life! So the best recipe is to stop doing those things we’re afraid might be discovered. Discovery has already occurred. God knows and if we choose to ignore this warning in due time we will be found out. Light will shine on what we want to keep hidden. The wise deal with it now, ask forgiveness and change their ways. The fool’s inflated ego thinks there’s no need for this. It’s way better to pay consequences now and they grow and grow as time marches on. Be brave.
Other commentators state that these words from Jesus are preparing his followers, the disciples, for the greatest form of persecution: death. A lot was said away from the masses. Jesus is preparing them. In the very next verse Jesus tells them not to fear those who kill the body. He then teaches them God knows them and cares for them. The hairs on their heads are numbered. Then he tells them to acknowledge him before men, not to hide who Jesus is.
This is significant for us today! I hear much talk of faith being a private, personal matter. Jesus disagreed! Only a fool makes up their own version of faith. All these concoctions have themselves at the center. Maybe that rooftop declaration will be that God is the center and we are not? If we choose to follow Jesus we must take all of Him, not just the parts and pieces we agree with,for then, we’d only really be following ourselves.
Photography by my friend Daniel Sanchez