“And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.” – Mark 3:12
As we read and study the book of Mark, we cannot help but notice that Jesus ordered individuals not to tell others about Jesus. In the beginning of His ministry, for example, he did not permit the demons to testify about Jesus even though they knew exactly who Jesus was (Mark 1:34; 3:12). Some say that this is because Jesus didn’t want demons to be among His witnesses. However, this was clearly not the case because Jesus also gave people the same order (Mark 1:44; 5:43; 8:30).
One of the reasons, I believe, was that Jesus knew that if many people knew who He was and what He could do, Jesus would not be able to move freely into towns to preach the Kingdom of God, which is the primary reason why He came (Mark 1:38). True enough, in Mark 1:45, Jesus could no longer openly enter a town because of his popularity.
However, I believe this was not the primary reason because interestingly, in Decapolis in Mark 5:19, Jesus actually said to a man healed from demon possession, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So, there must be yet another reason for this ‘secrecy.’
I believe this has to do with the kind of Messiah that the Jews were expecting. The prophecies in Old Testament spoke about a Messiah who would usher the Kingdom of God. Based on that, the Jews were looking forward to a militaristic Messiah who would rescue them from the Gentiles occupations. In John 6:15, for example, the crowd wanted to take Jesus and make Him King after the feeding of the 5000. The crowd realized that this Jesus is the new Moses, the Prophet that was to come, and the Messiah. Therefore they wanted to set Him up as a militaristic king right away, which was exactly not what Jesus had in mind.
Don’t get me wrong. Jesus is Messiah. He knew that. However, Jesus knew that before He would be a triumphant Messiah, He must be the Suffering Servant first, fulfilling the Isaianic Prophecies. So, Jesus decided not to reveal who He really was to those who simply wanted a political saviour. Jesus did not keep His identity hidden from everyone, but revealed it to those who would be less likely to expect a political revolutionary (e.g., John 4:26; Mark 5:19).
We are blessed to live in this side of history to know what kind of Messiah Jesus was, how He has suffered on the cross for our sins, and how He has risen triumphantly from the dead. We are blessed that someone has taken time to declare that to us. It’s now our time to declare who Jesus really is, His complete Messianic revelation, to those who are yet to know.