Journeying with Mark – Week 3

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[Continuing the year-long series Journeying in the Gospel of Mark]

Mark 1:32-45

In verse 43 and 44 of this week’s selection we encounter the first hint of a secret. Jesus sternly warns the man he healed who formerly suffered leprosy, “See that you say nothing to anyone.”

In biblical studies, this is known as the Messianic Secret. In the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is frequently portrayed as trying to maintain an element of secrecy about himself and his work. Why? We don’t know exactly. It remains a hotly debated topic among scholars, and some of the theories I’ve read include: Jesus was buying time wishing to redefine the title “Messiah”; he wanted to avoid excessive publicity as a mere miracle worker; he attempted to shield the truth tying to get people to think for themselves; or Jesus may have regarded his own role as Messiah as incomplete during his earthly ministry. Further, the Messianic Secret might have been a rhetorical device adopted by the Gospel authors to apologetically explain “the failure of the majority of Jews to respond to Jesus, as well as, perhaps, the failure of the majority of Mark’s contemporaries to respond to the Gospel.”[1]

Any, all, and none-of-the-above could be true. Like I said, we don’t know exactly. Nevertheless, it makes for good reading and imaginative application.

Jesus says, “See that you say nothing to anyone… But then the man who was healed went out and began to proclaim it freely, and spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly.”

He sternly warned him to keep the secret, but he could not. Like many to come, this man ignored Jesus’ spoken desire for anonymity, and his disobedience is celebrated. It’s as if those who encounter Jesus cannot help but share their story. They cannot keep silent, even if Jesus commands it.

Okay, then…what would it be like if we all were so disobedient?

I encourage you in a personal conversation this week share with someone, some neighbor, coworker, family member, or friend how an encounter with Jesus healed your spirit, your mind, your body, or maybe your attitude.

[1] The Anchor Bible Dictionary: Vol. 4 (Doubleday, 1992) pg. 798.

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