Would you vote for the leader of a kingdom characterized by power, freedom and unity?
Most of us would, but Jesus, the King, regularly told followers and crowds to keep quiet about what they had experienced or observed of his kingdom. Not exactly a winning campaign strategy.
Why wouldn’t Jesus want as many people as possible to know about his kingdom? Did he really think that people who had been blind, lame, deaf or mute would keep quiet about the one who had healed them? (They didn’t.)
It’s hard for us to imagine such a thing, for in our day the success of a message and its messenger is measured by how many people know about it, follow it and/or vote for it.
For us it’s about getting the word out; for Jesus I think it was about getting the Word right.
For us it’s about gaining a following; for Jesus it was about accomplishing his redemptive mission.
Jesus demonstrated his power with miracles and offered freedom and unity by his expansive interactions with people on the margins of Jewish society. Clamoring crowds and increasingly hostile opposition both rose up around him, and he knew that it would all culminate in his death on a cross.
There is more to the kingdom of God than miraculous power. The kingdom would come at great cost to Jesus and to his followers.
One day after Peter had correctly identified Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus explained to his disciples that he would suffer, face rejection, be killed and would rise again. This was most definitely NOT what Jesus’ followers had in mind. Jewish expectations of the Messiah were for a conquering hero, certainly not a sacrificial lamb.
Perhaps Jesus commanded silence on the subject of his miracles because he wanted to prevent misunderstanding of his identity, mission and message until the complete picture was better understood. He offers a kingdom of power, freedom and unity, it’s true, but it requires a trade-off.
To experience the power, unity and freedom of the kingdom of God one must serve instead of expecting to be served, live in humility rather than self-promotion, sacrifice personal gratification for the sake of God and others, and surrender earthly power instead of seeking it. Jesus wants followers who fully understand and accept the cost.
For many people, it’s a deal-breaker.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Jesus in Mark 8:34-36
Would you still vote for Jesus?