July 11th 2010

Messianic Secret

“…many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our Father David! Hosanna in the highest!’”

Mark 11:8-10 (NIV)
Once Jesus healed a man of leprosy and then strongly warned him not to tell anyone about it. But, instead of keeping it secret, the man went right out and began speaking freely, telling everyone who would listen.

Why didn’t Jesus want the healed leper to tell anyone about his healing? As a result of this man’s disobedience, Mark 1:45 tells us, “…Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.”

Today Christians want everyone to know about Jesus. But in his own day, Jesus didn’t want everyone to know about him. Earlier in the chapter, in verse 34, we read that Jesus refused to let the demons speak because they knew who he was. And in chapter eight, when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say I am?” and Peter replied, “You are the Christ,” Jesus responded by warning the disciples not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus knew something that neither the crowds nor his own disciples knew: The Messiah was going to be very different from what they expected. At the end of his ministry, as he entered Jerusalem, he did appear to them to be the Messiah they were expecting, and they reacted.

When people heard that Jesus was the Messiah, they were happy to receive the news. The problem lay in their definitions and expectations. The people expected a king who would rally the people and, with the blessing of God, lead them to victory over their Roman conquerors and restore the kingdom of David in all its glory.

Their idea of Messiah was different from God’s idea of Messiah. When they heard the term, they misunderstood it, because they had been conditioned to expect something else.

So Jesus did not want his disciples or those he healed to spread the news about him too soon. It was not yet the right time for the people to hear. The right time for the news to be spread was after Jesus had been executed and raised from the dead.

Only then could the wonderful truth of Israel’s Messiah being the Son of God and Saviour of the world begin to be understood for what it was.

Holy Father, help us as Christians to look to you and recognise what you want for the Christian, rather than what we think you want. History shows that too often we can misunderstand, misapply, mislead ourselves in service to you. We seek at all times to follow you, Father, so help us in our following not to mislead, and not to allow our own desires and prejudices to mislead us and others. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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