Skip to content
August 24, 2011 / Daniel

The Messianic Secret (Mark’s gospel)

Top Secret!

Image via Wikipedia

So I’m starting to study the gospel of Mark.  My plan is to teach through it for youth group.  One of the most notable features of the gospel of Mark is the so-called “Messianic secret.”  Jesus frequently tells people not to reveal his true identity.   Here are some examples.

And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him (1:23-26).

And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him (1:34).

And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (1:43-44)

And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”  And he strictly ordered them not to make him known (3:11-12).

And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables” (4:11)

He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything (4:34).

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (5:19-20).

And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.  And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat (5:42-43).

And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it (7:36).

Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” (8:25-26)

And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. (8:29-30)

And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead (9:9).

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know,  for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”  But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him (9:30-32).

Here are some key exceptions.  Jesus is more open about his identity after his crucifixion and resurrection.

But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (14:61-62)

And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so” (15:2)

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (16:5-8).

So what you do make of this?  Why does Jesus hide his identity until the crucifixation/resurrection?



Leave a Comment
  1. youthguyerik / Aug 24 2011 2:38 am

    Two things going on with the Messianic Secret. These are from the New American Commentary on Mark:
    1. The demonic testimonies were from less than stellar sources. They has the potential of discrediting him.
    2. The bigger one is that Mark presents a tension between the known and the unknown. Jesus cannot fully be known until after the resurrection revealed his true nature. So, he woks to keep his identity hidden until the fullness of his glory can be revealed.

    Just a thought.

  2. Daniel / Aug 24 2011 3:02 am

    Thanks for commenting, Erik.

    Do you think that Mark is arguing that the fullness of Christ’s glory is shown at the cross?

  3. youthguyerik / Aug 24 2011 2:02 pm

    Well, I suppose the best way to answer that is to consider Mark’s larger theological message. I am not an avid student of Mark, but just perusing commentaries this morning it seems like the theme of the humiliation of Christ is the one Mark is driving (humility specifically). If that is the case then the cross is the ultimate point of humility. This would suggest that glorification comes after. (That last part is my guess.) That is unless you consider his humiliation the ultimate revealing of his glory, but that seems problematic because then in hiding his identity he would also be glorifying himself through humility. I am gonna guess that Christ is fully known in the resurrection. But hey, what do I know.

  4. click / May 27 2012 1:37 am

    Cool post . Thank you for, posting on my blog page mate! I will message you again. I didnt know that.


  1. The Messianic Secret? Jesus, the Suffering King « Anchor for the Soul
  2. The King is the Servant (Mark 10:45) « Anchor for the Soul
  3. Jesus is amazed? Mark 6:6 « Anchor for the Soul

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: