In the Gospel of Mark, we find many instances of Jesus instructing demons, people he had healed, and his own disciples not to reveal his true identity as the Christ. This has been referred to as the Messianic Secret. Why did Jesus want to keep his identity concealed?
The reason, I believe, is that His messianic kingship could only be truly recognized at his enthronement as king. This leads us to reflect further.
When was Jesus crowned as “King of the Jews”?
Yes, on the cross!
In divine irony, the cross was his “throne” and his “crown” was a twisted crown of thorns. What kind of “king” was this? And yet, Jesus knew that his Messiahship could only be understood in light of his crucifixion, death and resurrection.
In the Gospel of Mark, we also see three of Jesus’ passion predictions. This comes after Peter’s recognition of Jesus as the Christ. Every time Jesus predicts his betrayal, suffering, death and resurrection, we see a wrong response by the disciples. Peter rebuked Jesus, the disciples argued over who would be greatest, while James and John wanted to sit at Jesus’ sides in his kingdom.
In each case, Jesus corrected their faulty aspirations -thoughts set on the things of men and not things of God. As we start this new year 2017, are our aspirations much like the disciples – for power, for position, for prominence? Instead of such worldly goals, here are what the Bible says the goals of a true disciple of Christ should be like.
1. Deny yourself, take up the cross and follow Jesus. This is a path of suffering. Shame. Death. If you choose to save your life, you will lose it.
2. Become a servant, a slave. The greatest is the slave of all. Jesus himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for us.
3. To become humble and powerless like a little child. Jesus showed special care for those in society who were powerless – children, women, the diseased, the oppressed, the blind, deaf, mute, lepers, the poor.
You know, a poor person who has nothing to offer you but a cup of cold water, will not lose his or her reward from God. Can you imagine how poor a person would be to be only able to give a fellow Christian a glass of water? (This is especially true if you do missions in developing nations – often they have nothing to offer but water) Do not look down on them! God will reward them for even a cup of water given to you.
Jesus has a special heart for the powerless while he often was in conflict with the powerful. He teaches us not to try to become powerful in the world’s eyes. He wants us instead to become powerless – a child, a slave, a servant, a person condemned to die.
Jesus’ teaching is completely radical. It goes against the grain of whatever the world teaches. But that is what he taught his disciples and is still requiring of us today, that is, if you consider yourself a disciple of Christ.
COVENANT RENEWAL and RESOLUTION for 2017:
Walk in the way of the cross.
Deny yourself, take up the cross and follow him.
Follow Jesus in suffering, shame, humilty and death.
Be a servant. A slave to all.
Be powerless like a child. Care for the powerless in society. The kingdom of God belongs to the powerless and not the powerful.