The Gospel of Mark is a strange and wonderful way to encounter the story of Jesus’ life. He bursts into the scene in the first part of chapter 1 with the heavens tearing open, a 40-day wrestling match with the adversary, and a bold proclamation that the Kingdom of God is at hand. What is he talking about?
Today’s reading, in Mark 1:21-34, presents an even stranger beginning for the story. The first thing Jesus does in his public ministry is to cast out an unclean spirit from a person. Then—and here’s the strange part—the first person to recognize Jesus’ true identity…is a demon (read this post from Nadia Bolz-Weber for a great insight into demon-posession).
Then Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever. This guy has power. He has authority. He says and does things like no one they had ever known. People flocked to Jesus bringing their sick and demon-possessed.
Jesus was a rock star.
Imagine the Twittersphere if he lived today.
So, what does Jesus do with this notoriety? He rebukes the demon, “Be silent!” Verse 34 tells us that “he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.”
Here are two observations from the text:
- The only people who recognize Jesus for his true identity are the demons. Interesting. What does that say about all the humans?
- Jesus did not want the kind of fame that the healings were bringing him.
The Gospel of Mark is purposefully mysterious. It reveals Jesus to us slowly. It leaves the readers wondering and asking more questions than getting answers. I want to embrace this mysterious progression and simply make observations and pose focused questions as we work through this text together.
Why do you think Jesus didn’t want to be known?