Messianic Secret and the Natures of Jesus Jesus is not against helping those in need. In fact, He does so willingly and spontaneously once His public ministry gets underway. But He is not a promoter for the sake of Self. He denies having any family other than those who "do the will of God" (Mark 3:35).
The Messianic Secret is an expression which refers to the gospel motif found in Mark, wherein Jesus issues commands at various times, whether to devils or to His disciples, that they should keep His divinity a secret. This motif may also serve as a theme of the larger gospel message as a whole, established in the lines spoken by Jesus to His mother, "But woman it is not yet my time," at the wedding feast at Cana. Because Jesus's mission was to "lay down his life for his sheep," He knew that those who opposed Him would seek His life. Yet, He also committed Himself to a public ministry, in which He taught and healed, and, according to Mark, did so with a desire that His fame not be spread by words or gossip. In one sense, it was a lesson in allowing one's actions to speak for oneself -- as Jesus teaches again in His silence before Pilate. However, His commands "to tell no one" are also a sign of authority over both spirits and followers as well as a sign of humility: earthly fame is not what Jesus's mission is about. This paper will discuss the aspect of the Messianic Secret as well as how the terms "Son of God" and "Son of Man" relate to this expression.
Mark's particular telling of the Christ event is oriented to a specific audience with specific needs. As Raymond E. Brown notes, the "secret about the Messiah was an important factor in Mark."
As Mark's gospel was directed toward the gentiles, its focus on the divinity of Jesus was primary, and to this end Mark explores the ways in which the Messiah demonstrated His divinity, through miracles and authority over spirits. The command for secrecy corroborates with the overall air of mystery associated with the Redeemer's mission: born of noble lineage but of obscure origins, raised in secrecy out of the public eye after a tremendous homage made by three foreign "kings" or "wise men," the indirect cause of a slaughter of innocents after His birth sparks a jealous rage in an evil king -- all these events speak to a degree of prudence and caution in the life of the Messiah. If Jesus commands his followers and the spirits who know Him to be silent on His account, it is quite possible that He does so in a spirit of prudence, fearing that there may be repercussions for His disciples should too many people began talking. Indeed, once Jesus's popularity increases, the high priests become as jealously enraged as the evil king who killed the innocent babies -- so this caution is not unjustified. Likewise, because Jesus's disciples were humble and oftentimes not very strong (in faith), this caution may have served as further protection for them. After all, Peter, who showed great faith in Jesus, rejected Him upon His arrest: with this in mind, it is no wonder that Jesus commanded them to keep His works quiet.
The fact that Jesus' mission, however, was united to the cross and that His followers could not yet understand that may also explain the Messianic Secret. Jesus revealed little by little the course of His mission. If He had revealed everything all at once, His followers, human beings as they were, would likely not have stayed His followers. Therefore, Jesus attempts to lessen the blow, so to speak, by teaching them the way of the cross before the reality of the cross is actually forced upon them. In this sense, the command to keep his miracles silent illustrates Jesus's desire to not glory in Himself but rather in the works of His Father. Jesus did not come to give glory to Himself but rather to take humiliation on Himself. By allowing His followers to trumpet His magnificence would be to send the wrong message at this point in time. It would likely lead to confusion when the actual mission of the Redeemer was revealed to them. Indeed, in spite of His commandments, the followers of Jesus still appear to spread word far and wide of His deeds, as great crowds began to follow Him. And from them Jesus had to flee to avoid the temptation that Satan offered of an earthly crown. Thus, it may be argued the Messianic Secret was part of Jesus's objective to heal and forgive but also to remain humble and pure before God.
This of course raises another question: why does Christ refer to God as another Person, if He Himself is God? Jesus actually refers to Himself as both the Son of God and the Son of Man, and both are significant titles. But to answer the first question: Jesus reveals how there are three distinct Persons in God -- the Father, of Whom He often speaks, the Son Himself, and the Holy Ghost, Which descends upon the Apostles after Jesus's Ascension. So when Jesus refers to God as another Person, it is because He is referring to one of the other Persons of the Holy Trinity. This Triune God is another mystery, which cannot be fully understood, and thus adds to the nature of the Messianic Secret.
The terms "Son of God" and "Son of Man" relate to the Messianic Secret in the sense that both assert an aspect of the nature of Jesus -- the former to His divine nature, the latter to His human nature. This possession of two natures adds to the greater mystery of Jesus, and the Messianic Secret is in line with safeguarding this mystery and its meaning. While Jesus does not deny either His divinity or His humanity, eating with friends and shedding tears over them too, but also revealing Himself more fully (the transfiguration) to a select few, He does everything with His ultimate goal in mind. His purpose is not to win an earthly crown but a heavenly one and to show others how to do so as well. It is also to make up for the sins of man by offering Himself to God -- and since He alone is human and divine He alone can make the perfect sacrifice.
When, for instance, the high priest ridicules Jesus in Mark 14:61-62, asking if He is "the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus says that He absolutely is: "I am." But He also addresses Himself by the title Son of Man: "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power…" Jesus asserts that He is both divine and human in this exchange, accepting the title that the high priests apply to Him (even though they apply it mockingly) and also insisting at the same time on his human nature too. This dual nature, of course, enrages the high priest -- and the fact that he becomes so enraged only underscores the intention that Jesus likely had when He insisted on His disciples and the devils keeping the Messianic secret: the rage of the Pharisees, Jesus knew, would not allow Him to exercise the public ministry He wanted to exercise if He trumpeted loudly and clearly Who He was at all times of the day. Nonetheless, Jesus was not afraid of their rage, either, as the gospel of Mark shows (though His human nature did suffer at the thought of what He would have to endure, as is shown by His sweating of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane).
Since the purpose of Jesus's mission is sacrifice, there is a great deal of emphasis on the Passion of Christ, as it shows what He endured willingly. His titles that He goes by also refer to the necessity of this endurance, as Son of Man refers to His being the fruit of Adam's offspring and therefore an inheritor of the sins of man, while Son of God refers to His being of divine nature and therefore free from sin. Thus, Jesus is able to occupy a dual role as carrier of sin and as liberator from sin.
The fact that His followers seem inept at times only shows the frailty of the human condition and the need for the grace of God in their lives. After the Resurrection and Ascension, the disciples are again afraid but when they are visited by the Holy Ghost they became filled with spiritual strength and wisdom and are…
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