Religious Studies Paper on The Messiah in Mark’s Jesus
Mark portrays Jesus as the messiah who is highly secretive about his identity but also one who must die. In the book of Mark, Jesus kept his messianic identity a secret. This is because he did not want members of the community to talk about him. This explains why he forbade the demons and his disciplines form speaking about him in messianic terms. The underlying expectations of the messiah in his community were threatening his noble mission of redeveloping the broken association between man and God. If the people were to learn that he was the messiah, they would have introduced their own agenda and thoughts about the responsbility of the messiah.
Jesus, according to Mark was a messiah with a particular mission. This mission was not to engage in military conquest with the objective of advancing a political agenda. His mission according to Mark was exemplified in his transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13) when Elijah and Moses appeared. In the midst of communication with these representatives of the law and the prophets, a voice was heard from heaven proclaiming that Jesus was the son of God and it was the duty of humanity to listen to him. The transfiguration is an important element in the book of Mark because it provides readers with an understanding of the relationship between the mission of Jesus and the old testaments. Moses represented the law while Elijah represented the prophets. Through the transfiguration, Jesus is represented as the one who is to bring the law and the prophets into completion. This is an indication that the mission of Jesus as the messiah was to preach the reign of God, call sinners to repentance, be a servant to humanity, fulfills the will of God, and communicates the purpose of God’s kingdom.
The messiah portrayed by Mark is considered an impediment to understanding the statement Jesus is Christ. This explains why Mark only uses this statement in the opening sentences of his gospel. According to Mark the true meaning of the term Christ, subverts the popular understanding of the identity of Jesus. He is a unique messiah considering that he is a ruler who serves, he is a deliverer who dies and a rescuer who gives his life for others to live.
The main theme in in the book of Mark is not that Jesus is the Messiah but the underlying requirements of a messiah. To be Christ implies laying down your life for others. This definition generates a radical effect on the attributes of a disciple of the messiah. A selfless messiah needs selfless disciples who would serve others instead of being served. Jesus is a messiah whose purpose is to serve humanity. One of the outstanding issues in Mark’s representation is what it means to define Jesus as the messiah. When Jesus asks his disciples who they thought he was and they answered that he was the messiah, Mark asserts that despite this recognition, the disciples did not understand the significance of possessing the messianic identity. The major point, in the view of Mark is that the messianic identity of Jesus meant that he had to die.
The gospel of Mark is founded on the death of Jesus. This is because he develops a passionate narrative that tells the story of Jesus while focusing on his death. Through this approach, he lets all the events leading towards his death to develop in a sequential manner. He tells the story using this approach to make sense of the death of Jesus in relation to his messianic objective. Mark portrays Jesus as an enigmatic figure defined by mystery. This is because he intentionally limits people from understanding his identity. Through different actions, Mark portrays Jesus as a secretive figure. Mark uses the motif of misunderstanding and secrecy with the objective of conceptualizing the image of Jesus. By reading the gospel of Mark, it is possible to assert that there is an existing misunderstanding about the role of the messiah. This is because this messiah is defined by armed conflict and the quest for political power. Mark uses his understanding of the messianic identity of Jesus to correct the misunderstanding and give a new meaning to the concept of messiah.
According to Mark even when he performed miracles, Jesus did not want other people to know this attribute. This is because he did not want to be known as a miracle worker since such perception would make it difficult for the people to know his identity. By using the stories and parables of Jesus, Mark seeks to communicate the idea that being a messiah surpasses the ability to perform miracles or providing insightful teachings. Salvation to humanity through the death of the messiah, according to Mark, was the main objective of his coming and his ability to perform different activities. All his actions culminate to his death and eventual resurrection. Mark uses the motifs of misunderstanding and secrecy to conceptualize symbolic moment in the life of Jesus.