William Wrede’s The Messianic Secret
Part 5: “The Self-Concealment of the Messiah” — Demons
This unit begins Part 1, Section 2 of Wrede’s The Messianic Secret.
Patterns of concealment or the “Shrouded Savior”
In this section Wrede lays out the various ways in which Jesus hides his true nature from the public, and at times even from his own disciples. It’s worth mentioning again that the author of Mark and the readers of his gospel have no doubts about who Jesus is. The narrator tells us from the very start that he is the Christ, the beloved Son of God. However, Mark keeps us in suspense while we wonder at the inability of everyone around him to see the obvious.
“I know who you are!”
Now that Jesus has been possessed by the Holy Spirit (as Wrede puts it, “equipped with the pneuma“), the other actors in the supernatural dimension, the demons, become acutely aware of his presence. They tremble in fear for their lives. They beg not to be disturbed. It would seem they fear not just simple eviction, but that the Son of God’s presence on earth signals the imminent eschaton, in which they will meet their doom.
While reading the gospel, we cannot help noticing that the exorcisms in Mark follow a recurring pattern. The presence of Jesus agitates them. They cry out to be left alone, often throwing the demoniac to the ground. Jesus commands them to be silent and casts them out. The ex-demoniac is cured and “in his right mind.”
Why does Jesus order the demons to shut up?
The name of this section gives away the answer to that question. According to Wrede, Jesus commands their silence in order to keep the Messianic Secret. Is his conclusion justified? Craig A. Evans thinks not. (more…)