Christian Living

“Tell No One”

And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.”
– Mark 8:30, ESV

“Tell no one” – Said, like no Christian ever… right?

The idea that a Christian wouldn’t tell people about Christ sounds absurd. And yet, it seems like that’s exactly what Jesus is telling his disciples to do in Mark 8! Let’s take a look:

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. (Mk. 8:27-30)

Ahem, what? We might want to pay even more attention considering that 3 verses later Jesus gives Peter a new, but not-so-nice nickname:

            “…get behind me, Satan!” (Mk. 8:33)

So, what’s the deal? It might surprise you, but underneath this strange command and bizarre name-calling exchange lies one of the deepest hopes of the Christian life.

To see this, let’s fill in the gap between these 3 verses. First, Jesus’ response here is not an isolated incident; it often follows his miracle working (Mk. 5:43; 7:36; Lk. 8:56; etc.). And here, Jesus now turns from cautioning the crowds to apparently muzzling his own disciples – why?

Jesus calls Peter “Satan” after Peter tries to turn him from his mission (Mk. 8:32): to suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise from the dead thereafter (Mk. 8:31). Peter, who we assume was representing the other disciples, didn’t understand how the Messiah could suffer – after all, he was God’s anointed one! And if their master was in line to suffer, they would be to. Jesus explains the meaning behind Peter’s nickname when he says that Peter’s mind is, in this moment, set on the things of man rather than God (Mk. 8:33).

In other words, Peter’s delusions of comfort line up with Satan’s purposes, not Jesus’! No wonder Jesus didn’t want Peter’s prosperity gospel to be preached! Sadly, the essence of Peter’s message here is alive and well today – and not just in the obvious “health and wealth” movement.

“Underneath this strange command and bizarre name-calling exchange lies one of the deepest hopes of the Christian life.”

Here is our deepest hope: that suffering makes a way for salvation. We do not preach a comfortable Christ – no! Our Lord was executed on a cross while he endured the hell of every one of our sins being heaped upon him. And our continued hope is that we too do not suffer in vain, but that we:

“take up [our] cross and follow [Christ]” (Mk. 8:34), knowing that “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for [Christ’s] sake and the Gospel’s will save it.” (Mk. 8:35)

Don’t: tell anyone that the Christian life is easy.
Do: tell everyone that what’s easy isn’t what’s best.

Don’t: tell anyone that Christ came to give them what they always want.
Do: tell everyone that Christ came that they might receive what they truly need.

Don’t: tell anyone that God doesn’t want them to suffer.
Do: tell everyone that God uses the suffering of his people to produce salvation and sanctification.

If you’re comfortable, remember that following Christ comes with a cost. He paid what we never could or would. But if we love him, we will live for him. It is not a burden to serve Christ as savior and lord, but a great joy.

If you’re suffering, take heart, and listen to Peter’s own words after the Holy Spirit worked on him:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)

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