Mark 8:29-30, the Messianic Secret

And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

//While the Messianic Secret is a theme from all three of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it is most prominent in the first of the three to be written–Mark’s Gospel. Jesus states very plainly that he does not want anybody to know he is the Christ.  “Christ” merely means “Messiah,” and Jesus doesn’t want to be known as the Messiah. That revelation would have to wait until after his death. Matthew, who loves to quote scripture, explains this by referring back to Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy: “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.”

There are a number of contradictions between the Synoptic story of Jesus and the story presented in John, but many are minor, of little theological significance. Not so, the “messianic secret.” In John’s Gospel, Jesus plainly presents himself as not only the Messiah, but as God himself, and the Jews have no trouble recognizing his claims. Here are a couple of examples:

John 4:25-26, The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

John 9:35-37, [Jesus] said unto [a man whom Jesus healed], Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.  

It may be, however, that both traditions share the truth. In John, Jesus is just as clear as in the Synoptics that he doesn’t want to be made into a king, or thought of as a warrior who will save his people by might. Jesus may therefore have objected to the traditional image of Christ/Messiah, but embraced John’s more gentle, nonmilitary version.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>