For about a month and a half, ending in mid-September, I was studying the Gospel of Mark in my personal devotions. I read through the book three times, one chapter per day. It was not the first time I had read through Mark, but on this occasion I noticed a recurring theme.
In 2:40-45, Mark records Jesus healing a leper. After the healing, Jesus commands the leper to keep the miracle to himself and go to the priest and make an offering as indicated by Mosaic law (44). This man, however, ignored Jesus’ instructions and “began to talk freely about it” (45). As a result, Jesus “could no longer openly enter a town” (45).
Mark records a handful of other occasions in which Jesus gives similar instructions or commands to keep his identity or actions secret. In 3:12, Jesus orders demons to not “make him known.” In 5:43, after raising Jairus’ daughter, Jesus “charged them that no one should know [about] this.” And, most startlingly, in 8:30, after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, Jesus “strictly charged them to tell no one about him.”
Such instructions are hardly what the modern-day believer hears at church. Keep Jesus’ power and identity secret? Hide him from a lost and suffering world?
To answer that question, one must merely look at the historical context. Jesus had not yet given the Great Commission. And further, look also at the context of redemptive history. Jesus had not yet fulfilled the task of being betrayed and executed as an innocent man. Had Jesus been subject to a wave of popularity, while many more might have heeded his teachings, the necessity of his death would have been jeopardized. Here, then, we see that God is carefully orchestrating events such that the plan of salvation comes to pass fully.
A broader question comes to mind: how often do we think that our ideas, agendas, and plans are superior to God’s? Almost daily, I would imagine. The leper certainly thought that the idea of telling everyone what had happened was a good one, but look how it affected Jesus’ ministry. How often do we feel the Lord’s leading in some situation, only to go with our own flawed, human reasoning and rationale instead? Do we really believe that we know of a better way to lead our lives, minister to our neighbors, and redeem the world?
May it be our prayer that we would trust the leading of the Spirit, and let God move in our world as He wills.
This is Rubio, over and out.
All Scripture quotations taken from the English Standard Version.