Allen Bauchle asked a great question/observation in bible class after worship about something called the ‘messianic secret’. That is a technical term for those times when somebody is telling who Jesus is (the messiah/the son of God), but he tells them to be silent. The demons obey. The humans do not. Strangely, the disciples do. Many words have been spilled on this theme, and while it is present to some degree in Mathew and Luke it is primarily something in Mark, the gospel for this year.
The truth of the matter is that I have received view, one that I’ve been told and strikes me a very close to truth, but I have not given enough pray and study to hold a view of my own. The only piece that I’ve done some work on is catagorizing the who and why.
The text of this sermon has one of the secret events. Jesus tells the leper to be quiet. The leper goes and tells – in loaded terms the former leper – “proclaims/preaches the word”. I don’t know why our more “literal” translations give us things like “talk freely about it and spread the news.” The New Living Traslation gets very “literal”…”the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone.” The juxtaposition of proclaiming the word by the man made clean and the command to be silent seem to be core. The leper is doing more than just talking about an event.
Part of my answer has to include the why’s of the people told. The demons, who have no interest in spreading the gospel, shut up at the command. The leper breaks the command, the law, for the sake of the speading the gospel. That is a slippery slope. Which laws can be broken? When are you breaking them for the sake of the gospel? Martin Luther’s quip about ‘sin boldly’ would seem to be appropriate.
Ultimately, it is those who have been cleaned by Jesus Christ that are given the mission to save others. Jesus can’t go into the towns, but everybody is looking for him. They are coming out to the desert places. It is the cleansed, the healthy, that can give directions where to find him.