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The Gospel of Mark (Part III) - The Secret

For the 6th Sunday of Ordinary time (B), Jesus encounters a Leper who pleads with Jesus to cure him of his illness. The Gospel tells us, "moved with pity" Jesus heals the man. After the healing Jesus gives the man instruction from Mosaic Law to cleanse himself and see the priest. He warns him strictly not to tell anyone about what just happened. But what does the man do? The Gospel tells us that, "the man went away and began to publicize the whole matter."

So what just happened?

The Markan Secret

This is not the only instance of Jesus telling someone He heals to not say anything. We find out very quickly that people cannot seem to hold onto this secret. Jesus's fame as a miracle worker spreads very rapidly. He cannot seem to shake the publicity. But why would Jesus not want this attention?

To put this precisely: the people in the story do not know Jesus's true identity. They do not
know the end of the story. They do not realize that He is the Christ. At the end of Chapter 1 of Mark's Gospel, Jesus is known as a miracle worker. But Jesus didn't come to just perform miracles. Jesus tells us about His mission in Mark 1:15: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

In that whole statement, Jesus does not say that He has come to perform miracles. He has come to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God. His story must unravel for people to understand His identity. But the story of Jesus is already spreading faster than wildfire by the end of the 1st chapter of Mark.

Jesus was afraid that His identity would be misinterpreted. He tells those He heals to keep it silent. He rebukes demons from revealing His identity. His identity must remain secret in order for His true identity as the Christ to come to fruition.

Not the Christ You're Looking For

The Old Testament builds up into the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people are waiting for their long-awaited Messiah. It was a promise made by the Lord to many of Israel's leaders through the ages. Someone was going to rise up from the line of David to rule the nations. This promise gave hope to a long oppressed nation.

While Israel was able to historically win some battles against nations like the Canaanites and Phillistines, they struggled for most of their history in Israel against the Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Romans. After reading through the Old Testament, it would appear as though the Israelites were under captivity longer than they were a free nation. When Jesus comes onto the scene at the dawn of the Anno Domini (AD), Israel is under the rule of Rome. 

When God promises to send a Messiah, Israel starts to believe that this Messiah would put the nation of Israel on top of the known world. Israel would be the number one superpower to supplant all nations. This Messiah would not rest at peace until all nations were under the rule of a united Israeli empire.

We quickly find out that the Christ does not fit these qualifications that the nation of Israel has dreamed. Jesus came to proclaim repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of God after all. Jesus never said that He came to conquer the world, and if people realized He was the Christ, this is the Christ for whom they would be looking. 

Jesus came to usher in the peace of God's kingdom. His kingdom is a kingdom of peace. He tries to teach His disciples and other believers how to eventually become citizens of this kingdom. Unfortunately, we find out very quickly that even Jesus's disciples never seem to get it. Despite His clear teachings and consistent demeanor, the disciples still fall under the cultural trap. They think the Messiah would conquer all nations. They think that they will be His generals.

We Know the End of the Story

Jesus dies on the Cross at the end of the story and rises from the dead. He shows that the power for which everyone was looking was not the power He was bringing to the table. His power far surpassed anything of which anyone could dream. No one had ever risen from the dead, but Jesus did. It is from this truth that the disciples build the Church and are eventually dubbed "Christians" or (Believers in Christ).

Jesus has a kingdom and He rules in that kingdom; however, the kingdom of Christ is far beyond our understanding. It is the kingdom of heaven. He did not want to rule here on earth by taking away the free-will of people, but He wanted people to understand that this life is not the beginning and the end of life; rather, He is the alpha and omega who calls us back to Himself. His kingdom is a kingdom of eternal life. We've seen the fall and rise of many nations, but His is the only one that has and will last for eternity.