Podcast: The Messianic Secret
The issue of the Messianic Secret is the observation that Jesus repeatedly told individuals not to tell people who he was or how he had healed them. This is most prominent in the Gospel of Mark.
Three times Jesus tells demons to be silent and not announce who he is.
Four times Jesus tells people not to tell that he healed them.
Two times he tells his disciples not to announce his messiahship.
Two times he tries to escape from crowds who wanted to make him king.
Why Does Jesus Do This?
One approach to this question is found in a book by William Reed called, “The Messianic Secret” written in 1901. He was the first to coin the term “Messianic Secret.” According to Reed, Jesus did not claim to be the Messiah until after the Resurrection and carries with it the idea that Jesus did not know who he was. This is not an orthodox or Biblical perspective.
Another view is that the timing was not right for Jesus to announce his messiahship. A proof text for this is Mark 9:9 which is in the context of the Transfiguration. However, this view seems forced and projected into the text. Most of the individuals he heals tell people about him, so it was not a plot on Jesus’ part to make sure he did not get killed too early.
The third approach to this question is that Jesus did not want people to know early on in his ministry until after the Resurrection because he did not want to tell an incomplete story. Mark 1:35-39 gives us his purpose. Jesus wanted people to see his true mission was preaching the kingdom of God. He wanted to be known as more than an exorcist and miracle worker or a political revolutionist. His messiahship cannot be understood apart from his death and resurrection.
The fourth view is that Jesus can only be revealed by God, and Jesus does not want people preaching their own message, but God’s message. Jesus gives a purpose for his ministry in quoting Isaiah in Mark 4. Those who do see and understand the gospel are not who you would think – it is something that only God can reveal to people. Jesus can only be revealed by God through the Resurrection.
Salvation comes through the preaching of the Cross, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus – not through only believing in his miracles. This is what the Christian faith is based on. Only God can reveal Christ in the context of the Resurrection.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.