Opponents and detractors of the deeper or secret teachings of Jesus love to quote John 18:20 to prove their case that there is nothing more or other than what Christian ‘orthodoxy’ offers. Here’s the verse …
“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. (NIV) or as another version has it: “I have spoken publicly for everyone to hear. I have always taught in synagogues or in the temple courtyard, where all the Jews gather. I haven’t said anything in secret. (GWT)
Here, Jesus is speaking to the temple authorities who were trying to accuse him of plotting and sedition. On the face of it, his words in defense of his modus operandi seem to contradict his own statements in other places and much of what we have presented above, but is this really the case?
Clearly Jesus did teach often, even regularly, in synagogue and in the temple, but not only in these places. He also taught, as we are told, on hillsides, in a boat by the sea shore, and in private houses and so on. And yes, he did teach publicly to large crowds in public places, but again, not only so.
He obviously had ‘private’ conversations with his inner circle which are well recorded and so also are some of his ‘secret’ teachings to those ready to receive what he was revealing. e.g. “He (Jesus) told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But (not yet) to those on the outside …'” (Mark 4:11)
When Jesus declared: “… in secret have I said nothing,” he obviously meant, nothing that was any different in his public teaching to what he taught in his private communications with the Twelve or with individuals such as the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar. What he taught privately was simply an explanation and further development of his public teaching.
So, we should be very clear that Jesus’ private or secret teachings were not distinctly different or other than what he taught publicly, but were much, much deeper.
To the crowds, he could only give the dual dimension of what he had received from the ‘Father’, hence, “Our Father which art in heaven …” etc. But to the few who were more spiritually mature, he always strove to impart the deeper nondual dimension of that reveloation, i.e. “I (you) and the Father are One.”
~ From: The Inner Light or ‘Christ’, by Pete Sumner