One of the great devices that St. Mark uses in his telling of the Gospel story of Jesus is what scholars have come to call the “Messianic Secret.” In Mark, those who are healed are told not to tell anyone what Jesus had done for them. When demons are cast out by Jesus, as in today’s lesson, they are ordered to be silent. When the disciples actually understand who Jesus is, they are told to tell no one (Mark 8:30, 9:9). Historically, it would have been very dangerous for Jesus to proclaim himself as the messiah, as it was a very politically charged title.
In the midst of the Messianic Secret it is interesting to note that the only ones who actually recognize Jesus are the outsiders. The Roman Centurion (definitely an outsider) who was present at the crucifixion knows who Jesus is (15:39). In today’s lesson we find that even the demons (can’t be much more of an outsider that this) know who he is. In Mark 5:7 the demon who identifies himself as “Legion,” calls Jesus the “Son of the Most High God.” Isn’t it amazing that even the demons know and recognize Jesus ?
St. James warns those who would follow Jesus, that belief is not enough. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. (James 2:18 NIV)” Following Jesus (which is the call of the insiders, and the call to the outsiders) is more than belief in who he is, or in knowing who he is. Jesus did not call Simon, Andrew, James and John to simply know who he is or to believe in him. He called them to “pick up a cross and follow him,” not pick him out in a line-up.
Like the disciples in today’s lesson, you and I are called by Jesus. Called out of the lives we are leading and into a life filled with service, work and joy. We are called to leave our nets in the boat to and follow. Christian discipleship isn’t about knowing Jesus is the “Holy One of God.” It is about following him and continuing to fulfill his mission of ministry. In Mark 8:34 Jesus gets real specific saying, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” You and I know who Jesus is, the question is, “are we willing to trade our nets for crosses and truly follow him?”