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I Thought Jesus is Supposed to Be God

Jesus is God. But unless we know who God is, that information doesn't help us.

In Mark's Gospel, Chapter 3, unclean spirits behold Jesus and cry out, "You are the Son Of God!" And Jesus strictly orders them to be quiet (Mark 3:11-2). Why should Jesus want anyone or anything to keep quiet instead of declaring His identity? Isn't the Gospel message, more or less, that "Jesus is God"?

We often imagine that the Gospel is a mishmash of facts: Heaven is real, Hell is hot, and Jesus is God. Why Jesus would want any living thing to be silent about His identity doesn't make sense to us. Anytime Jesus' behavior confuses us, we need to check the lens through which we perceive Jesus. The "get-to-Heaven-and-escape-Hell" lens through which most people read the Gospels doesn't bring clarity. We should reject this message as the definition of the Gospel. It is the Gospel-of-the-Kingdom lens that brings things into focus.

According to Mark's Gospel, Jesus announced the Gospel with clarity and boldness from the very start of His public work.

"Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
Mark 1:14-15

Throughout the first four chapters of Mark's Gospel (which moves very quickly. Mark covers a lot of ground in four chapters.) Jesus never preaches Himself or focuses on His own identity. Jesus focuses on the Gospel, the good news that God's Kingdom is breaking into the world.

When the unclean spirits declare Jesus' identity, Jesus doesn't deny it, but neither is He pleased. It appears that Jesus wants His disciples to draw their own conclusions about his identity, which they begin to do by the end of the fourth chapter. After Jesus calms the sea, the disciples start to say, "Who is this? Even the wind of the sea do why He says!" (Mark 4:41 NTE).

Jesus isn't concerned with His title. Jesus didn't insist on being called Messiah or God. If He had done either of those things, people would have gotten the wrong idea about Him. We already have our notions of God, and the Jews had their expectations for the Messiah. If Jesus focused on claims about His title, He might have succeeded in getting the title, but He would have failed to accomplish His purpose. The people would have tried to squeeze Jesus into their preconceived notions of what a Messiah would do or how God would act.

Jesus came to establish God's Kingdom, not to make a name for Himself. Maybe this is why the scriptures say that the Messiah would be a man of no reputation (Isaiah 53:3). And why the Apostle Paul says that Jesus "did not regard equality with God as something to exploit." (Philippians 2:6).

The Jews, and everybody else in the world, assume many wrong things about God. Yet, we should not ridicule the Jews because they have expectations of God or His Messiah. The expectations are a sign of their faith in Abraham's God and the prophets' words, a prerequisite for being a covenant member of Israel. Jesus' mission forced Him to walk a narrow path that required His work to do the talking for Him. Jesus did not come to claim a title, He came to do a deed, and in the successful

accomplishment of that deed, God would confer the title on Him. The disciple's response to the calming of the sea reflects the success of Jesus' strategy.

"Who is this?" They began to ask, "That even the wind and the sea do what He says." (Mark 4:41 NTE)

What is our expectation of God? Do we imagine that God must use our preconceived notions to accomplish His purposes? Or are we willing to believe that God can give us what we need and what we want in His way and by His means? That question is the challenge of faith. We should not judge God based upon how we think He should behave. Instead, we should find out what produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness, and we will discover the true nature of God who made Himself known in the person and work of Jesus.

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