Mark 1: 32-34 – Messianic Secret

In Mark 1: 21-31, the evangelist described a day’s activity of Jesus in Capernaum:- teaching, exorcism, and healing. That is not all. Jesus is busy in the evening too. In a summary statement (Mk 1: 32-34) Mark presents more of Jesus’ typical actions. By his healings and exorcisms Jesus continues to free people from sickness and from the power of Satan. Mark emphasises that Jesus’ ministry was not restricted to a few but to all who were sick and demon-possessed. He adds: “Jesus healed them all”.

Jesus’ imposition silence is a recurring feature in Mark’s Gospel. It is part of a larger theme of the secrecy attached to Jesus’ Messiahship and is commonly known as the theme of the Messianic secret. Jesus silences not only the evil spirits who recognised him (Mk 1: 25, 34; 3: 12), but even his disciples are told to observe silence about his identity (Mk 8: 30; 9: 9). The motif of secrecy is also attached to certain miracles of Jesus (Mk 1: 44; 5: 43; 7: 36; 8: 26).

The true identity of Jesus can be perceived only in the light of his passion, death, and resurrection. To proclaim him as Son of God before his passion is premature and to understand him as a miracle worker is to misunderstand him. The cross-dimension of his life is the only context in which one can perceive who Jesus really is. This is made abundantly clear in the close link between the messianic confession of Peter (Mk 8: 27-30) and Jesus’ first announcement of his passion (Mk 8: 31). This is also the reason why he forbids his disciples to disclose his identity “until the Son of Man should have risen from the dead” (Mk 9: 9). By emphasising the “Messianic Secret” Mark is attempting to project a balanced image of Jesus. Jesus is not a political Messiah, a political power, nor is he a miracle worker. Jesus is the Messiah who completes his mission through his suffering and death.

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