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What If? The Blog

The Word Spreads

Jim Gates

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Today's Reading: Mark 6:30 - 7:37

There is a theme throughout the Gospel of Mark often called the Messianic Secret.  In Mark, Jesus constantly instructs people NOT to reveal who he is to others.  To the demons, to Jairus and his family, to the deaf and dumb man, Jesus gives the same command.  “Tell no one.”

And yet, the word begins to spread.  This is a story that cannot be contained.  By the time of Mark 6 and the feeding of the five thousand, even the disciples have become famous (they have just returned from their missionary journeys).  An immense crowd gathers, and Jesus, moved by compassion, feeds them - first with food for their souls, then with food for their stomachs.

Jesus goes through extraordinary lengths to avoid re-gathering the crowd, to the point of walking on water across the lake.  Yet when he arrives, the people recognize Jesus, and a new crowd begins to follow him.  Here again, the word has spread about Jesus.  As he challenges the Pharisees, and teaches (first in parable form to the crowd, then with clarity to the disciples), Jesus claims the same authority over the Laws of God as he has demonstrated over the laws of nature … and the story continues to grow.

Jesus goes in secret out of Jewish lands and into Tyre, a coastal city.  Of course, the secret of his presence cannot be maintained.  Then we come to one of the most jarring passages in all the Gospels; the account of the Syrophoenician woman.  Jesus seems dismissive, arrogant, even racist.  And yet, even in this story, the word spreads.

This section concludes with Jesus in yet another non-Jewish region, the Decapolis.  Of course, people are drawn to him; crowds find him.  And once again, he removes the man from the crowd before healing him, commanding him to maintain the secret of his miraculous hearing and speech.  And once again, the word about Jesus spreads.

This last passage may also offer some insight into part of the purpose of Jesus’ efforts to keep the miracles and exorcisms and clear teachings secret from the crowds.  As the crowds spread the word about Jesus - miracle man, prophet, teacher, healer, exorcist - Jesus seeks to open the ears of his disciples to the Word that he is spreading, that he is so much more than a miracle man and a prophet.  Jesus wants to open the ears of the disciples that they might hear who he truly is - Savior, Messiah, Son of God, God-in-flesh.

For anyone who has ears to hear, let them hear.  And through that revelation, even today, the Word spreads.

Questions for Today:

Are you, like the disciples, easily identifiable as an agent of Jesus?

What is coming out of your heart?  Does it make you clean, or unclean?

Do you come to Jesus with humility?  Could you be content with the scraps, if they came from his table?

Do you most often seek Jesus as a miracle man, a teacher, a healer?  Or do you seek him as a Savior, a Messiah, the God-man?  

How are you to help spread the Word?

Ok, put the Bible down and go do it!

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