Digging Deeper: The Gospel of Mark Chapter One
In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, we are introduced to two instances in which Jesus commands that His true identity not be revealed. Why?
Mark 1:25-26 talks of an incident when Jesus drives an evil spirit from a possessed man in the synagogue. When the spirit cries, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”, Jesus sternly commands the spirit to be quiet.
There could be several reasons why Jesus did not want the demon to speak. The primary, and perhaps the most obvious, reason would be that Jesus, at that early point in His ministry, did not want His identity as the Messiah yet revealed. A second very important reasoning could be that, because the evil spirit recognized Him, He did not want to give anyone the opportunity to accuse Him of being “in alliance” with the demon or Satan.
Another possibility would be that He silenced the evil spirit because it is improper for demons to preach the Gospel. A supporting passage of this may be found in the Book of Acts, when a woman possessed with a spirit of divination is following the Apostle Paul. “The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this she did many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.” (Acts 16:17-18 KJV, emphasis added).
In Mark 1:40-44, there is another incident in which Jesus heals a man of his leprosy, and commands him not to tell anyone. Instead, he is to show himself to the priest and offer the appropriate sacrifices. The man does not obey Jesus’ words, but rather goes out and begins to talk freely about what has happened. As a result, Jesus was no longer able to openly enter a town because of the mobs of people who sought Him. It is for this reason that the Lord most likely did not want the man to talk about the healing of his leprosy, but another good reason could have simply been that Jesus was not motivated by ambition and the desire for His own glory.
It is also possible that Jesus did not want to give the priests the opportunity to discredit Him out of envy or malice by saying that the man was not actually cleansed from leprosy – something which would have been highly possible if the account of the man’s healing by Jesus had reached them before he actually came to them in person.
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Very thought provoking