Secrets Made Manifest

[Jesus] said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ ”

- Mark 4:21–23

Keying off of the idea in the parable of the sower that the secret of the kingdom of God must be divinely revealed if people are going to grasp it (Mark 4:10–13), Jesus in today’s passage expands on the idea of revelation using the metaphor of the lamp. Although the secret of the kingdom of God is not given to everyone at the present, this situation will not continue. There will come a day when it will be so clearly manifested that all people will see it.

Our Savior makes this point using the imagery of a lamp placed on a stand. In the Old Testament, the “lamp” often appears as a metaphor for God Himself or for the promised Davidic king, that is, the Messiah (2 Sam. 22:29; 2 Kings 8:19; Ps. 132:17), and Jesus uses it similarly here. The verb used for the lamp’s arrival confirms this. The ESV translates it as “brought” (Mark 4:21), which is understandable given that lamps typically are brought by someone to a new location. They do not just get up and walk into the room. However, the Greek word used is the verb erchomai, which means “come.” In other words, the lamp is not the object of the verb but it is the subject—the lamp “comes.” Jesus is this lamp who has entered the world, the one who “came out” into Galilee in order to preach the gospel, to provide illumination to the people (1:38).

In first-century Palestine, oil lamps were typically hung from lampstands so that they would sit above the room and provide the maximum amount of light. They were not put under a bed or a basket, for that would not ful ll the purpose of lighting up the room. Jesus’ point, then, is that His reign will not remain secret forever. His glory will not be veiled permanently. Even those who cannot see Him now because they refuse to come into the light will nally behold His glory, not to mention those who love Him. As Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary Mark, Jesus is “talking about the full manifestation of His nature and of His kingdom at the last day.”

Of course, the final revelation of Christ and His kingdom to all people does not mean that all will be saved. Jesus plainly teaches that some will suffer eternal punishment (Matt. 25:31–46). The full revelation of His kingdom will be a day of sorrow for those who reject Him, but for His servants it will be a day of rejoicing in His glorious light.

Coram Deo

Many believers have questions about the demonic such as “Can a Christian be demon-possessed?” The fact that Satan is not equal in power to God helps us understand that though the devil is mighty, He is still subject to the Lord’s sovereign control. God’s omnipotent care for His children means that believers cannot be possessed by demons and that no scheme of the evil one will result in his ultimate victory over God’s people. Safe in the hands of Jesus, we need not fear anything Satan can throw at us.

Passages for Further Study

John 10:22–30
Romans 8:31–39

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