Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Say Nothing to Anyone!

“See that you say nothing to anyone.”
It is an interesting part of Mark’s Gospel.
It is what scholars call the messianic secret.
Jesus after healing people, and casting out their demons, insist that they not tell others what he is up to.
Why not?
Why wouldn’t Jesus want people to know about all the healing and casting out demons?
Any preacher/pastor would be psyched to have a throng of people coming to hear them.
But Jesus does not seem to want it.
It is weird.
Wouldn’t Jesus want everyone to know that he is there, that the kingdom has come near, that God’s reign has broken through?
Jesus only has a couple of years before his death he better use his time wisely and get the message out quickly.
He could set up a nice big mega church with stadium seating.
People would come from miles around for the show.
He would heal people tell them about kingdom, he would change the world, make a difference, and maybe have a nice little life for himself.
After all this is what we all want.
We want to be noticed, to have influence, and power.
Jesus could have had it all.
But he is blowing it because he is trying to keep it a secret.
When reading the Gospel of Mark we have to answer this question to understand the Gospel.

Healing was part of what Jesus did to show what the kingdom looked like, but it was not his mission.
Jesus was on a bigger mission.
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and to the cross.
Jesus knew that people could not understand the kingdom properly without the cross.
People misunderstood if they just thought of Jesus as a healer.
It was too small a role for him.
People could not understand what Jesus was doing without the cross.
So he wanted people to keep the healings a secret until they could be brought into their proper perspective.
Without suffering, without sacrifice, without service to others, there is no kingdom.

It is a hard thing for us to understand.
People say all the time, “If God is all powerful why is there such suffering in the world?”
Why doesn’t God do away with all the bad things in the world?
Surely if God had enough power he would, or if God does have the power and doesn’t do it than God is just cruel and uncaring.
Jesus wanted people to see the bigger picture, to understand God’s larger purpose and plan.
There is no world without suffering; there is no resurrection without sacrifice and pain.
It is not really a very popular message.
It is much easier for us to believe that if we have faith or no some secret than God will take away all of our problems.
It is much easier to see the victory than to live in the mystery of a real world living God.

The first funeral I was involved in after becoming a pastor was a five year old girl.
She died of some rare heart problems.
It was one of those times when you just think that the world is unfair.
It didn’t make any sense for someone so young to die.
Where was the justice in it?
It wasn’t right.
Her family was not members of our congregation.
She had been a student in our preschool.
Some members of our congregation asked me to go visit with her and the family in the hospital before she died.
I did and built a relationship with the family.
After she died the family informed me that the church they went to did not allow funerals in the church.
I thought this was really strange.
But you see their church was a healing church.
They believed that if you prayed hard enough, and believed hard enough you would be cured.
They also believed in modern medicine, but they just preached that God was a mighty God who would cure every disease of people who had faith in him.
They had crutches on the walls of their church from people who could not walk but had been healed.
Surely they had prayed for this five year old girl, they had faith that the mighty God would heal her.
And she died anyway.
So you see, they could not allow that funeral in their church.
It would prove them wrong, or perhaps worse that God was wrong.
I offered to let them have the funeral in our congregation, and said that their pastors could even come and do the service.
The family insisted that I be part of it, which I did and out of respect for the family I accepted the rather bogus theology of those pastors.
Don’t get me wrong it was tempting to be around them.
They had a mega church with five services filled to the brim.
They bragged about who they used to have a small church like ours until the healings started then they had to tear down walls and build bigger.
Victory is a much more attractive message for people.

I tell you this story because you can see the danger of resurrection without the cross.
We deny the reality of life.
We deny the true power of our faith.
We box God in to a particular set of preconceived theological notions.
Jesus did not want this to be his ministry.
Jesus wanted people to hear the message.
He wanted people to accept the Good News.
But they couldn’t if they simply thought he was a miracle worker.

The cross proved that God is with us through everything we face in life.
It does not remove us from the pain of the world.
It does not stop bad things happening to us.
It gives us strength and faith to deal with life as it is, not as we wish it could be.

For us the cross has real consequences.
It means that as a community of faith we cannot hide from realities of life.
We too must live into them.
We must deal with life in all of its unfairness and cruelty.
We must deal with our own mortality.
And then we must give ourselves over to the one thing that can really truly save us God’s amazing grace given in Jesus Christ.
Grace tells us that on the other side of grief there is joy, on the other side of suffering there is healing, on the other side of death there is life.
But we have to get through those things first.
There are no short cuts to the kingdom.
There are no short cuts in our lives.
There is no magic pill, or words.
There is only life in all of its hardships and disappointments, and faith in the good news.

This week we will have Valentine’s Day with all of its pronouncements about love.
Valentine’s Day is about all of the niceties of love with candy and hearts.
But if you have ever been truly in love you know that love is not always nice.
It means sacrifice and giving of yourself for others.
It means daily dying to yourself so that you can be reborn a child of God.
Real love is found through the cross of Jesus Christ that tells us not to seek our own satisfaction, not to seek our own happiness, but the happiness of others.
We cannot understand the wonder and mystery of God without the cross.

“See that you say nothing to anyone.”
When we tell others about our faith let us tell them about our pain and loss and how God got us through.
Let us live with others in their pain and loss so that we might be able to tell them the greater mission of God’s kingdom that comes from knowing his Son.
Let us love then…with real purpose.
Let us live with cross so that we might believe in the Good News.
That Jesus Christ died for us and loves us enough to live with us in our pain and sorrow so that we might be resurrected to live a life like his filled with sacrifice, and giving.


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