Sunday, September 16, 2012

Do Not Tell Anyone

This passage of Mark 8 is a popular one.  We have the disciples confirming Jesus' identity as the messiah.  Peter is actually the one who gets it right on the nose.  We have Jesus' teaching about how he was going to die, and then we have Peter immediately pulling a one-eighty and rebuking Christ for his prophecy.  Then we've got the whole taking up our cross deal, if we are to follow Jesus.  We save our lives by losing it.  Gaining the whole world will lose our lives, etc.  This is a very quoted passage of scripture.

There are two very small things I want to talk about today.  The first is something that occurs often in the Gospel of Mark: Jesus orders his disciples and others who witness his miracles to not tell anyone about him.  We see that after miracles, and we see that after Peter correctly identifies him.  Verse 30: “And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.”  There are numerous times in this gospel that Jesus does this, and each time we ask ourselves, “Why?  Don't you want to let the world know that God is in our midst?  How are you going to save the world unless people know about you?”

But there's a second little thing that is just as important as the first one.  In fact it is more important, and it is more important because it comes DIRECTLY after the first one.  In fact, we need both of these verses taken TOGETHER in order to make sense out of them, and so that the second verse carries the impact of the first plus its own impact.

After verse 30, we have verse 31: “Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

Now the crucial verse with the crucial word, verse 32: “He said all this quite OPENLY.”  Do you see it?  Jesus performs a miracle or reveals his identity as the messiah, and he immediately tells everyone to keep silent about it.  THEN, he reveals the manner in which he is to die, and his resurrection, and he is quite OPEN about it.  He WANTS everyone to know these things.  He wants everyone to pass this information on.  Peter tries to silence him, and he rebukes Peter sternly.  This is information that CANNOT be silenced.  This is information that must be spread!

Why?  Because it is the gospel.  The gospel is not that Jesus is the messiah.  That may be part of the gospel, it may be PROOF of the gospel, but it is not THE gospel.  Jesus performed miracles.  He healed many.  Is that the gospel?  No.  It's an aspect of the gospel, it is the PROOF of the gospel, but it is not the full gospel.  There is only one part of the gospel that can stand alone as the full gospel.  There is only one part of Jesus' life that can be called the “saving part.”  Knowing that Jesus was the messiah does not save us.  Knowing that Jesus could physically heal people and cast out demons does not save us.

Jesus' death and resurrection saves us.  Jesus' death: not just that he died, but the manner in which he died.  The torture, the rejection, and both of these by the most important people: this is what his death was.  His was a death of rejection by the important people of the world, by the fallen world.  Jesus' resurrection: after three days he would rise again.  He would be alive again.  All the significance of this: death being defeated, our sins being destroyed, the world being saved—all of these things are compressed in that one small idea.

Jesus' death and resurrection are the gospel.  They are the big idea that has changed the entire world.  Of course Jesus would want this idea preached openly from the beginning, even during his ministry.  Everyone getting the word out that Jesus heals people doesn't save people.  It burdens our Lord down as everyone rushes over and tries to get Jesus to heal them.  Getting the word out about Jesus being the messiah doesn't save people.  It floods our Lord with disgruntled Jews who want to overthrow the government with Jesus in the lead chariot.  Healing and fulfilling prophecy were the ways that Jesus PROVED that he was who he said he was.  Those cannot be our target.  If we are seeking after the proofs—the healings, the prophecies—in the Bible, then we are only seeking after the benefits of God.  We are not seeking God.

This is why Jesus wanted everyone to clam up about the proofs.  Without the cross, the reason Jesus came to earth, the SAVING aspect of the incarnation, the proofs become false idols.  If we are coming here for the wonders of Jesus—what he can do for us, how we can be successful, where we can get God's help in our lives—then we seeking after the wrong thing.  We are engaged in idolatry.

Seek GOD.  The only way to seek God is to seek his salvation, and that is not through his miracles NOR through his fulfillment of prophecy.  Jesus' salvation is through his DEATH and RESURRECTION.  Jesus without the crucifixion and the resurrection is not a God that we need.  Without those two things, Jesus is not a savior.

Understand the death and resurrection of our Lord.  Study every aspect of it.  Learn the meaning and significance of it.  By this knowledge of God are we saved.