Why the Secret?

“And He cured many who were afflicted with various diseases, and He drove out many demons, but would not allow the demons to talk because they knew Him”

Mark 1:34 AMP

“And said to him, see that you tell nothing [of this] to anyone; but Begone, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your purification what Moses commanded, as a proof (evidence and witness) to the people [that you are really healed].

Mark 1:44 AMP

Jesus commands silence on three types of occasions.

1. The first involves demons, who “knew who he was”.

2. The second involves people who have been healed, who may not understand who he is, but who do have a story to tell about what he has done.

3. The third occasion involves the disciples after they confess him as “the Christ” (Mark 8:30; 9:9)

What is the purpose of all this secrecy? Let’s take a closer look.

The disciples, whose confession Peter states in Mark 8:29, had come to recognize Jesus over time. They had followed him around, heard his teaching, observed his miracles, and gone out to do the same at his command. Their faith had grown during that time. More important, Jesus had been able to define for them how he saw his own mission.

Unfortunately, Judaism did not have the same clarity about the Messiah and his mission. Some groups among the Jews were not looking for any Messiah. The golden age had come with the Maccabean victories in 164 B.C. As long as the temple functioned, deliverance, for them, was not needed.

Others (such as the people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls) believed in two Messiah. One would be a descendant of David who would rule as king, while the other would be a descendant of Aaron who would purify temple worship as high priest. For both groups, Scripture and the experience of Hasmonean priest-kings from 164 to 163 B.C. proved that the roles of ruler and priest could not be joined. Still, others were looking for a warrior king who would deliver them from the Romans. In fact, several people presented themselves as candidates for the office (Acts 5:36-37 has only a partial list), and one, Simeon Ben Kosiba, would lead the Jews to a final defeat in A.D. 135.

Therefore, the title “Christ,” or “Messiah,” was a dangerous one. It would immediately excite people’s preconceived imaginations about what that figure was supposed to do. It would mark him out to the Romans as a rebel leader. And it would close people off to Jesus’ own self-definition of his role. Because of this Jesus always referred to himself as the “Son of Man.”

In Ezekiel, this phrase means “human being.” In Palestinian Aramaic, it could simply be a modest way of saying “I”. But it also appears in Daniel 7:13 as a being who receives power and authority from God.

Therefore, the phrase had three possible meanings, and only context could decide which was intended. Because of this ambiguity, people had to listen to Jesus to see how he used the term and not attach to it their own preconceived meanings. This is precisely what Jesus wanted and needed until he had accomplished all he had to do. So, he told his disciples not to say anything until he had “risen from the dead”; he did not need their semi-understanding help in explaining who he is.

Fortunately, for us today, He does not want us to keep His identity secret. He wants us to shout it from the rooftops; teach Him in our homes, workplaces, in the marketplace, or wherever the opportunity comes.

Are you keeping Him secret?