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Darkness, Teaching in


Jesus told his disciples, “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops” (Mt 10:27). Teaching in darkness can mean either what Jesus taught the apostles in private at night when they were free from the crowd (Mk 4:34) or what Jesus revealed as the meaning of the parables in private to the disciples.

The public who heard only the parables lacked their meaning. After Jesus taught the parable of the Sower, “Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, ‘Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that ‘they may look but not see, and hear but not understand’” (Lk 8:9-10).

Teaching in darkness also meant the identity of Jesus as Son of God that he revealed in private, until his resurrection. He asked the disciples and those who confessed it to keep that secret. When Peter confessed Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16), “he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah” (Mt 16:20). After the transfiguration on a mountain, as Jesus was coming down with Peter, James, and John, “Jesus charged them, ‘Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead’” (Mt 17:9; Mk 9:9).

Once Jesus accomplished the mission of his passion, death, and resurrection, the period of spiritual darkness is over. The Holy Spirit enlightened the disciples with understanding. Jesus promised the disciples, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn 14:26). Then they have to spread the light of Jesus and his message to all in spiritual darkness.


The Jewish scholars had the custom of whispering their doctrines in the ears of their disciples, who would announce that aloud to the public. The scholars also whispered into the ears of their interpreters to announce aloud the translation of their message to the listeners who understood only foreign languages. Though the Bible did not document Jesus using such a method for his teaching, he alludes to that here. What Jesus meant here is his teachings to the disciples in private and what the Holy Spirit revealed to them at Pentecost.


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