Mark, The Messianic Secret, and Jesus Identity

Wanted to clear up a theological issue in the Gospel of Mark which time in the service each week doesn’t really allow me to tackle.  One of the curious things that keeps happening in Mark involves Jesus commands directed at people whom he healed and served to keep quiet about Jesus work and identity.  He keeps telling people not to tell others what had happened (see Mark 5:43 for an example).  This seems odd, if Jesus came to save the world and change the lives of people, why would he want the story of his miracles kept silent?

Well, first of all, a cursory reading of Mark will reveal that Jesus’ popularity and following grew very quickly to number thousands of people who came from as far as a hundred miles away by foot to see the miracle worker and would-be-Messiah.  But Jesus mission was completely different from what these crowds wanted and expected from the Messiah, they wanted an earthly king who would lead the Jews back to political prominence.  This was dangerous to the mission of Jesus for two reasons.  First, several times people try to force Jesus into this roll, which would lead to a complete misunderstanding of his core mission.  He came not to conquer Rome, he came to conquer sin, Satan, and my own rebellion.  This would happen not through the gaining of a crown but through dying on a cross.  On the other hand, Jesus mission involved demonstration of God’s Kingdom through his teaching, miracles, and development of the disciples.  Jesus also needed a sinless life in public lived before people to demonstrate his true righteousness.   If the Messianic fervor around Jesus grew too quickly the outcome would be a strong and harsh response from the Romans as they sought to put down any insurrection.  There is an appointed time for Jesus death, but he does not want that to come too soon.  So he seeks to manage his popularity who are really seeking a sort of circus side show or worse, are ready to put a sword in Jesus’ hand and crown on his head and follow Him into battle.

R. C. Sproul has written a short but very good blog on this topic, so take some time to read.

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