“Your Father Sees in Secret” – Matthew 6:1–18
Hear now, the word of the Lord from Matthew 6:1-18.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-18, ESV
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever. As we begin our study of this passage, I want to ask you a question to think about. When it comes to money, would you rather be rich and wealthy or would you rather appear to be wealthy? Would you rather appear to be rich? Would you rather have lots of money and wealth at your disposal to use as you saw fit? Or would you rather have the kind of status symbols in your life so that everyone around you thought, there goes a guy who has a lot of money, even if you actually don't have any.
Now, this is a question that may sound silly. Well, of course you'd want to be wealthy, right? But it's a question that came to the forefront through an interesting book written in 1996, published by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, and a book called "The Millionaire Next Door", which said that this question wasn't actually as simple as we might think it to be. These researchers tried to figure out where are the truly wealthy in the world. In the 1990s, millionaires were much more rare than perhaps they are today for inflation and other reasons. But when they started to figure out where are the millionaires, what they realized is that millionaires very often are the people who didn't appear to be people who had lots of wealth. The people who are rich are not necessarily people who look like they are rich. In fact, what they realize is that millionaires were disproportionately located, disproportionately clustered, not in the rich neighborhoods with a lot of status symbols, the big houses, big cars, fancy vacations, but they live primarily in middle class and blue collar neighborhoods.
What they realize is that people who lived in the really high end neighborhoods were people who probably had a lot of income. But it was often a situation where they spent as much money as they earned. Money came in and money came out to purchase expensive luxury goods that gave an appearance of being wealthy. So at the end of the day, a lot of these people didn't save much, didn't accumulate too much wealth.
But on the other hand, where the truly wealthy were places where they could have afforded perhaps something better, but where they wanted to live beneath their means in order to save and accumulate more wealth and to use that wealth than to earn more wealth than to become richer and richer by that process. The book said, if you want to be rich, go and do likewise.
Now, I'm not here to tell you how to manage your money. I'm not a financial planner. I'm a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But that story, that principle, illustrates precisely what Jesus is talking about. He's asking a question; do you want to be holy or do you want people to think that you're holy? Do you want to appear as though you're holy? And Jesus says, you can't really go about both of those goals at the same time. You can either choose to be holy or to simply appear in the eyes of the watching world as though you were holy. But those take different paths. To appear to be holy is the broad path of public performance, of piety. But the path to true holiness is in secret. It's on the narrow road of secret communion with God. And so Jesus is forcing us to ask, what are our motivations in even being here today as we worship in a public worship service?
Well, as Jesus addresses us here. The big idea is that God's economy rewards secret obedience. God's economy rewards secret obedience. And as we're going to see, this is a totally different way than the way the world's economy works. Now, three parts to what we're looking at, Jesus is making the same point three times over. First of all, in service. So first of all, we're going to see serving to be seen, serving to be seen and versus one through four. Then speaking to be seen, particularly in prayer, speaking to be seen in versus five through six. And then we're going to jump ahead a bit to versus 16 to 18, suffering to be seen, suffering to be seen.
1. Serving to Be Seen
2. Speaking to Be Seen
3. Suffering to Be Seen
Now in verse 7 to 15, Jesus is not doing the same things that he's doing in those three other sections, and one through four and five through six and 16 through 18, each of those sections are essentially identical in their outlook, identical in their structure, and how they're framed and how Jesus is making his point. But after Jesus makes that particular point about prayer in verses five through six, he sort of takes an aside. While we're on the topic of prayer, let's talk about how you should pray. And it's such a glorious and important aside as Jesus teaches us how to pray in the Lord's Prayer, that we don't want to just gloss over that quickly as we get back to sort of the main focus of the sermon this morning. So we'll set that aside for this morning and come back to look at that. We read it all so you can hear the passage in context, but we're not going to look at that until next week, but the following week, Lord willing.
Serving to Be Seen
But let's look at what Jesus is saying in the first part of this. In point one serving to be seen in versus one through four. In verse one, Jesus lays out the principle that again, He's going to apply three times over. In verse one, Jesus says, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them. For then you will have no reward from your father in Heaven."
Now again, this is the general principle in Jesus going to apply this later, but it's important to remember perhaps where we are. In the previous section, the longer section that we looked at in Matthew 5:17-48, one commentator notes, that was dealing with false teaching, particularly false teaching about the law. Now Jesus is not dealing with false teaching, but false piety, false holiness.
So in the previous section in Matthew 5:17-48, Jesus was talking about the ways that false teaching about the law caused people to interpret what God required of them from the Old Testament and to sort of change that so that they could live and act in wrong ways. They were doing the wrong things.
Here Jesus is saying you're doing the right things. The problem is that you're doing them for the wrong reasons, the wrong motivations. Particularly you are doing these things to be seen by other people. Jesus saying, if you're just doing this to be seen by other people, that is your reward in itself. Congratulations, that is as much as you will receive. He contrasts this with a much better reward. The reward that we receive rather from our Father who is in heaven.
So then in verse two, Jesus starts the first of three illustrations, and it has to do with giving to the poor. So in verse two, he says, "Thus when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others." So we kind of understand what's going on here and where this could play into the society. We have people who are giving to the poor, giving to the needy. Jesus says the problem is not with giving to the needy, the problem is how you're doing it. Namely, these people are in some sense sounding a trumpet before them. Jesus says, don't do that, don't sound a trumpet before you when you do this, like the hypocrites do.
Now, we don't know precisely what Jesus was talking about. We don't have records of trumpets that were blaring before the hypocrites would give to the needy in the synagogues, like we see Jesus talking about here. So he might have been talking about this in a metaphorical sense. You know, when we talk about tooting my own horn, let me toot my own horn for what I've done and now you can see it, too, it might be metaphorical.
It might be literal. Some have suggested at feasts that the public feasts, they would blast horns. If you read Numbers ten, one of the reasons for blasting trumpets was to call the congregation to begin the feast. Those feasts often included giving to the poor. So maybe Jesus was talking about that. Other people suggest, hey, they had these big boxes in the back, and they would have these horns, these chauffeurs, like these animal horns that people would dump a big back box of coins. Imagine if someone stood up right now and went to the offering box in the back and started dumping a huge number of coins. You know, it sounded like a Las Vegas casino when someone had hit the jackpot, everyone would turn around, I'm sure our deacons would usher you out. You're making a too much of a scene. Jesus says, don't do that, don't call attention to yourself. Whatever he's saying, his meaning is clear. Even if we don't know exactly what this trumpet or horn sounding would be.
The point, though, is that Jesus is talking about people who want to be seen by others, as Jesus said in verse one in order to be seen by others. Now, in verse two, he says that they may be praised by others. This word for praise, if this were talking about God, this is the word that you would use to talk about glorifying God, that God may be glorified. That's the idea. I want to be glorified by you seeing my bountiful generosity so that you see that I am like God in this sense, and you glorify me in a way that only God deserves the glory for.
Jesus, then in verse three, talks about a secondary motivation. He says you might want to be seen by others or you might be just sort of prideful and vain in your own heart. So he says, verse three, "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Not only should you direct attention from other people to what you're doing, but you shouldn't even pay attention to what you're doing." To feel I did a really nice thing, even if nobody else knows about it. What Jesus is saying again is not that there is a problem with giving to the needy. That is a very good thing, we're commanded to do that. The problem is about our motives.
So Jesus says that we should, "Give so that your left hand doesn't know what your right hand is doing", verse four, "So that you are giving may be in secret." So that nobody knows about it. Nobody outside knows about it. You're not really thinking about it, it's just happening. "And your Father, who sees in secret Jesus says, We reward you." That's a much better reward Jesus is saying.
Now, I think in the modern world economy and the way that things work in our modern world, this thing that Jesus is talking about carries over more or less directly. Some of these other things, prayer and fasting, it's not quite the same thing. We'll talk about modern equivalents to those. But we see everywhere a drive toward charity or philanthropy. Sometimes it's giving of our money. Sometimes it's serving and giving of our time and efforts and energy.
Now, philanthropy can be done for a lot of reasons. Sometimes people give a big donation to perhaps distract other people from the scandal going on in immorality in another part of their lives. You're distracting with the left hand so that people don't know what's going on in your right hand. That's sort of a twisting of what Jesus is suggesting here. Otherwise you might do something to earn praise. A lot of times big donations will get your name in the newspaper or on the news, or you might go viral about it on social media. Or you want to establish a legacy. If I give a certain amount of money, my name will be on a building so that people will using my name long after I am even dead. I want to be glorified in that way.
What Jesus is saying is something that cuts against all that in God's economy. Public philanthropy is worthless. Now, I'm not saying the causes are unimportant or the giving to public causes are unimportant. What I'm saying is giving in a public way to be seen by other people is worthless. God is not more glorified when Christians call a bunch of attention to how much we give. God doesn't need that.
God is not more glorified when we give in such a way to raise awareness. God isn't resource starved. As we saw a couple of weeks ago from Psalm 50, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He doesn't need you to raise awareness. God isn't glorified by that kind of giving that calls attention to you and to what you're doing.
God is glorified in some sense, and we'll get into what this means by secret, hidden, ordinary, invisible faithfulness. God sees in secret, and he is glorified by the secret things that the world doesn't see. You may remember several years ago, the Ice Bucket Challenge. Some of you may have participated in this. It was a really big it went viral. There was a whole big thing. It was to raise money for ALS, a horrible, horrible disease. ALS is a terrifying disease. We sadly had a pastor in our own presbytery whose wife was killed within six months of showing the first signs of this disease, it just withered her body away so rapidly. This is a worthwhile cause to support. There was an effort toward trying to raise a lot of money and awareness for ALS research.
What would happen is these people would post videos of themselves and they would say, hey, I'm raising money for ALS awareness, and they would dump ice on their heads because that makes sense. What they would do is they would tag several of their friends and say, You have to do this too, or give to the cause. You can give to the cause or you can dump ice on your head. Then it spread like wildfire. It went viral. Now, again, this is a very worthwhile cause, this a horrifying, horrible disease. When they when all was said and done after this viral thing kind of fizzled out, this actually doubled the annual giving to the ALS Association for their research. So according to worldly wisdom, according to the economy of this world, this was an incredible success. People have been trying to replicate it ever since that happened.
Then some started to assess the overall effect of this and it was interesting. There was a 2019 article that was written about this which noted that this actually created some problems for the ALS Association. What happened was there was this huge influx of cash by one time givers. So they had all this money. And so from this money, they had some pressure to maybe spin up some new research programs and to go to the ALS Association website. Even today, you will find that what they spun up is now causing the organization to run a deficit. So they're running a deficit. They're hemorrhaging money right now because they can't continue to sustain what they started to sustain from this first initial influx of cash during the ice bucket challenge.
The other thing and this gets closer to what Jesus is talking about. A majority of the people in the United States took the ice bucket option rather than the giving option. They had the choice of being seen as philanthropic by posting a video of what they were doing and the ice bucket on their head and all of that, rather than actually giving. In the United Kingdom, it was actually 10% of the participants, who donated only 10%. People got to be seen as charitable, but they didn't actually give any money.
Now, I'm not criticizing the event or participation if you wanted to. More power to you. I hope you warmed up. What I am drawing out is rather Jesus's assessment of our perceptions of something like this. Humanly speaking, that was one of the most effective ways to raise the money and give towards something that was really important. What Jesus is saying is that God doesn't calculate our giving or our service in that way. It's an economy that cuts directly against what the world prizes and values.
Speaking to Be Seen
Well, Jesus continues in the same way that God is not glorified by our charitable giving or our charitable service when it is motivated by seeking to enrich ourselves socially, by being seen as holy. Also, in the same way, God is not glorified by prayer that seeks the audience of others rather than the audience of God. So this brings us to our second point. Speaking to be seen versus five through six, again, it's the same issue that Jesus laid out in the general principle in verse one, practicing a righteousness before others to be seen by them, rather than doing something in secret to be seen by God. So in verse five, Jesus says, "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward."
Now, again, the problem is not with praying. The problem is not even with public praying. We publicly prayed this morning that's not a problem unless potentially for me, if my heart was more in being seen as pious by you. That's one of the risks that leadership takes and I pray about that, that I'll be humble in this area because of what Jesus says here. But ultimately, this kind of public prayer isn't a problem. The public prayer is the one that is done on the street corners, in the synagogues to be thought of as especially spiritually holy and pious.
In those days, you could walk out on the street corners and pray publicly, and that was a main currency of social capital. If people in the community knew that you were holy, you were raised up a few pegs in the social standing. Now, today, that's not the case. If you prayed on the street corner, people would try to have you put in prison perhaps. That is not something that our world values in the same way. So today we are sometimes tempted to make these long, wordy prayers where we impress the people, but it's primarily in church. So we'll talk about that.
I want to think also about another modern equivalent. Jesus is talking about speaking, speaking eloquently, speaking about things that make other people think that I am moral. Again, this isn't so much about public prayer in our society, but it is still an issue that public speech is seen as public piety.
Think about what happens all the time in our world. Something happens and there is a huge rush to make a statement, to take a stand, to signal my virtue, because I'm on the right side of the issue, whatever the issue is, whatever the right side is. So whether people say something on social media or by showing up at a protest, the pious in our society are those who speak up.
Now, there's another side of this, a flip side, a negative perception for those who don't speak. Perhaps you've heard the phrase that silence is violence or your silence is deafening. You should be saying something because that's what pious people do. That's what holy people do. But your silence is deafening. What Jesus is saying is that God is not glorified by our public praying so that other people see us and God is not glorified either by being the quickest to say something about whatever issue arose 5 minutes ago in this world.
So as we think about public speech, perhaps as we think about how we ought to use social media as Christians, it's important to recognize that what Jesus is saying here is that much of what goes on is a public parade, a public charade, a public performance. Where people want to be seen as holy and righteous by what they say. Most of what goes on in the speech in our world is vanity. It's foolishness.
Christians would be wise to avoid this because all of it requires endless public performances. You have to keep speaking and keep speaking and keep speaking and make sure you're on the right side of this issue and that issue, often before you have all the facts about what's truly right or wrong in particular case. Now Jesus is saying you can do that. But if you were speaking to be heard. If you are speaking to be on social media, liked or favorited or retweeted, well, you can do that, but that is your reward in full.
Instead, what does Jesus say? Well, verse six he says, "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. Your Father who sees in secret, will reward you." When you want to take a stand, when you want to make a statement, when you want to speak up, when you want to say something, is your first thought to speak to the one who can actually do something about this? Is your first thought to go to the Lord and prayer and bring your burdens and your heart to him in prayer.
Now, this also is derided and hated by the world. Oh, thoughts and prayers what can those actually do? Well, thoughts, maybe not so much, but in God's economy, prayer is our source of power. Prayer is when we bring our requests, our speech before Almighty God who moves heaven and earth to come to the aid of his people.
So the same contrast exists today, even if social standing isn't by public prayer. Social standing still is in the world, sees us as virtuous when we are seen as speaking publicly in a virtuous way. But with God, piety, holiness, righteousness, this comes not by your public performance, your public speeches, this comes by what you do in the places that no one but God can see you.
I think this idea merits some careful consideration. Because our world loves the hot take. Our world loves instant reactions to the world around us. Some of you maybe do the hot take pretty well. You can throw out an opinion on blogs or social media or videos or podcasts or maybe just with your friends or at the office around the watercooler. If you can do this, you can gain a huge following. There are followers, people who are hungry to eat up the next hot take. The more impassioned you are, the more you draw clear moral lines, even when the issues aren't entirely clear yet. People will then see you as moral.
Here's what Jesus is pressing us. If you really cared so much, what if you diverted all that energy to your private conversations with God? What if you did not simply do something where you appear to be holy? What if you actually brought your speech not into the public sphere, but into the private sphere, into the secret places where God sees you and hears you?
If you did that, would you really gain what you're seeking? And that's a test, of course. Do we really care about this issue or do we care about how we are seen as moral and righteous by how we speak about the issue? Jesus isn't done. He's not done addressing all of our temptations to hypocrisy. We all struggle in this way.
Now again verses seven through 15 is this glorious side comment. I don't want to demean it, but it's not in the structure of what Jesus is talking about in these three illustrations. So we're going to set that aside and return and give it full attention in the next sermon in a couple of weeks.
Suffering to Be Seen
In verses 16 through 18, Jesus focuses not on our service, not on our speech, but in our suffering. The third part is suffering to be seen in versus 16 through 18. In verse 16, Jesus, talking about fasting and a particular aspect of fasting, he says, "And when you fast do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may not be seen by others."
Now there's a renewed interest in fasting today. You may hear a lot of people talking about fasting, but it's all for physical health. If you Google fasting, you won't find much unless you really, really start hitting into the next pages of search results. You won't find anything about religious help, about how to fast or anything like that. You'll only find medical papers and things like that about how to do intermittent fasting to lose weight or things like that.
In those days, fasting was a really serious thing. Fasting was something that faithful Jews practice regularly. And what Jesus is saying again, the action is not wrong, it's the public performance of this action. It's playing up the suffering to show what a serious believer you are in the eyes of those around you. The goal was to disfigure your face. Maybe the word here literally means disappear. Maybe to cover or smudge your face with a dirt and soot and things like that. So you walked around and were gloomy and sad and people could joke, oh, that guy is fasting how spiritual that person is. That was the goal.
There's a little bit of a wordplay here because this idea of disfiguring your face or disappearing your face is then a very similar word is used when Jesus talks about that day, fasting may be seen or may appear/disappear here. Your face disappears so that you may appear to others. You may be seen by others. You make yourself disappear. Your face disappears so that you may be seen as righteous and holy by other people. But Jesus is saying, well, you get what you want, you make your face disappear, your piety, your Holiness, disappears. It's a sham. It's a falsehood. You have your reward in full. Your piety is nothing. Public sympathy, public support, public praise is its own reward and full.
Again, there is a modern equivalent of this. Again, fasting, people are pretty proud of their fasting. I'm fasting, I'm losing weight, it's intermittent, you should do it. It's not something where people are so much playing up their disfigurement like they did in those days. But we do live in a culture that values public displays of outrage. I'm so angry about this that's happened. Public displays of victimhood and oppression. We can still gain the appearance of virtue by publicly displaying our suffering.
Now, again, I want to be very clear. There are real aspects of suffering that happen in this world. There are real places where light needs to be shined on places where there is oppression and suffering so that the cleansing light of the righteousness of God can disinfect those places and heal people. But that's not what Jesus is talking about. So people who are making all of this a charade, all of this a parade, all of this a sham.
So Jesus says instead verses 17 through 18, he says, "But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face that you're fasting may not be seen by others, but by your Father who is in secret and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
Now, this is the only place in the New Testament where fasting is clearly taught. But Jesus expects us to fast. When you fast. Just like he said when you pray and when you give. This is clearly taught; Jesus expects us of this. Now, the Bible doesn't give us set times and seasons for fasting. This is why, as a church, we don't do things like Lent. We don't celebrate Lent because we don't believe that there is a time set out in the New Testament, 40 days before Easter, that we should participate in that kind of a thing as something that's given to us by God to do. But fasting is given to us by God.
Now, a few years ago as a church, we set apart a day of fasting, and it wasn't something we were parading about. We were dedicating our hearts and our lives to prayer for that day. But Jesus saying there's also something that we should be pursuing as individuals. When you fast privately don't show other people, don't tell other people about it. If you've never fasted, let me encourage you to do it. I encourage you to start slowly, maybe skip one meal. Use your hunger to remind you to pray. Then perhaps skip another meal, a try, perhaps skipping breakfast and lunch. You know, you're already sort of fasting through the night. You can skip breakfast and lunch and then break the fast at dinner. A day of giving yourself to fasting. That is a practice that Jesus is commending here. What he's saying is fasting is not for the approval of the world. It is rather to draw near to God. Your Father, who is in secret and sees even your fasting in secret.
Well, his economy isn't aligned with the world's economy. Well, Jesus is calling us both in what he's told us about fasting and prayer and giving, Jesus is calling us to a secret, hidden, veiled, invisible life. A life for the most important stuff is not happening in a public performance. It's not all immediately Instagrammed, but a life where we are giving ourselves to stuff that only God can see in secret. A life that is filled with spiritual, heavenly minded focus on the age to come. So fasting is an opportunity to renounce even good things for a time. Creation of things from this world which are good in themselves for a time, in order to more fully embrace the better things of heaven. Specifically fasting is where we give up this world to draw near to God. You can't do that forever. Not that this world is bad, but we give up the world because we show that our entire course of life is headed to heaven.
So we need to ask, why does our Father value this secrecy and hidden us? Why does Jesus keep drawing us back to the secret places? Well, the word here that keeps coming up for secret is the word Kryptos. We get our word cryptic from this word. A cryptic meaning, a message or something where the meaning is hidden and veiled from sight. That's what Jesus is saying. Your lives, these parts of your lives should be hidden and veiled from sight. They should be Kryptos.
Now Jesus is later going to use the same word to speak about an aspect of who he is, an aspect of his own hiddenness. We read in Matthew chapter 11; this is actually the passage that our assurance of pardon came from this morning. In Matthew 11:25-26. We read, "At that time, Jesus declared", and he begins to pray publicly. He's not denying all public player. He prays publicly, "I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth that you have hidden". There's that word, Kryptos, "That you have hidden these things". What things? The things about him. "That you have hidden these things from the wise understanding and revealed them to little children." "O Lord, my heart is not lifted up. My eyes are not lifted too high. I do not think about things too marvelous for me", Psalm 133.
"You've hidden these from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my father", Jesus says, "And no one knows the son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the son chooses to reveal him."
Then Jesus says, "Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly and heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." What Jesus is declaring here is that he has veiled something about himself. Namely Jesus, the second person of the Trinity has veiled His glory. The Lord of Glory was so cleverly hidden in plain sight that the rulers of this age crucified the Lord of Glory, and they didn't realize what they had done.
Now, if you and I were running Christ's PR campaign, his public relations campaign, the last thing we would do would be to hide from the world His glory. We'd say, let's lead with that. Let's put that in the front pages of every newspaper, on the 6:00 news. Let's get that in front of everybody, your glory. But Jesus chose for it to be hidden, for it to be in the secret. Because in this hiddenness, in the hiddenness of Christ's glory, our Lord defies worldly wisdom. Particularly, He defies what it means to live by sight. Of all places, this is true this is especially true with the cross.
Jesus Christ was publicly crucified. He was publicly shamed. He was publicly scorned and spit upon and mocked. You could never look upon the cross of Jesus Christ and see glory there because all of it was shame and cursedness from God. That's what the Bible says. Cursed is the one who was hanged on a tree. That's what the Jews said. He couldn't be the Messiah. He was cursed on that tree. This could not be the Lord of glory. That's where the glory of God burst forward into this world. To this day, Jesus Christ must be publicly placard and publicly displayed as crucified in the preaching of this word so that we look to Christ glory, not in things our eyes can see, but in the secret veiled glory of our Savior. Who is put up as a source of shame and derision and in that he was lifted up and glorified in the eyes of the world. Our Christ's, our Lord's shame is his glory.
Our Lord calls us to the secret places. Our Lord calls us to live a life that is secret and hidden in the eyes of the world. Now there's an evil way to live in the secret, in the shadow. But you know, at the end of the day. Your heart knows at the end of the day, when you lie yourself down to sleep. Was this a public performance by you? Was this a sham to trick those around you that you're a good person? Or in the secret of your heart, in the quiet of your heart, as you're responding to the Word of God, as you responding to the Lord who died for you. Is this true? Is this real? Is this genuine? In the secret place that I can't see that no one can see? Are you trusting that God will not reward the things that everyone else sees, but the things that he alone can see?
You know, it's so interesting justification in the court of public opinion is endless. You can never do enough. You can never say enough. You can never give enough. You can never suffer enough. If you're on the right side of history today, you'll be thrown under the bus tomorrow. Justification in the court of public opinion is ruthless and brutal. But Jesus says, come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden. If you're trying to pile up these works and say, haven't I done enough? Jesus says, "Come to me, take my yoke upon you." The yoke of the Gospel. "Learn from me for I am gentle and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your souls."
This is the tradeoff between faith and works. Works as you always got to do more. You're never arriving, but hopefully you're going to be seen in the process. But faith looks to Jesus, never lacking a thing. Always counted as righteous. Not because you have done it, but because Christ has in your place. He gives it to you, to the secret of the faith that looks to him for the forgiveness of sins.
"Come to me," Jesus says, "Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me from gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Says the one whose glory was hidden from the world, who was crucified and died and buried and rose again until the day when he comes in every eye shall see him. Today how are you looking to your savior in faith?
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we pray that you would give our hearts a secret sense of faith. A secret looking to Christ, a secret dependence upon him. Not by something that we can gin up or rustle up or develop or work up for ourselves, but something that we receive as a gift, even that is a gift from you. I pray, give your Spirit that we might look on Christ and believe, and if there are any who don't yet know him, that they would this morning look on Christ and believe and be saved. We pray this all in Christ name. Amen.