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Secret Ministry


Our narrative lectionary reading this week is from Mark 1:40-45.  Jesus' ministry has just begun.  He is trying to keep it low key, but his mercy is getting the better of him.  A leper came to him asking for healing.  Jesus heals him, but instructs him to stay quiet about it.  While the man demonstrated faith in Jesus' ability to heal, he couldn't follow instructions very well.  He told everyone he could find what Jesus had done.

Why was Jesus trying to keep his ministry on the down low?  I can only imagine that he knew that his popularity would lead to two major conflicts.  He would come into conflict with the religious powers, who would see him as a challenge to their way of life and their teachings.  He would also come into conflict with the Roman authorities when the people would try to make him king.  He wanted to avoid both of them, and this is critical to understanding Jesus.

Far too often we rush the gospel to the conclusion and we forget that Jesus spent his entire ministry trying to slow it down.   Not because he was scared of it, but because he came to preach good news to the poor, set the people free, heal the sick, and proclaim the favor of God on the people.  Jesus' gospel was more about the kingdom than the cross.  Why?  If the cross did all the work, why not rush to the conclusion?

Look, I don't question the saving power of the cross.  It is the gospel.  It is the pinnacle of God's work through Christ, but you have to admit that this is pointing towards something.  I suspect it is something like this: Jesus came to establish a new kind of Kingdom.  One that is not based on location, but on the hearts of humanity.  Jesus aimed to start a movement that would spread throughout the world from person to person.  Jesus' Kingdom is contagious, and its spreading.  The cross may offer salvation, but it is the Kingdom that will bring Heaven to Earth.  The work of the Kingdom is to do justice, walk humbly, and love God by loving people. 

The cross alone leads to a faith without works, the cross and the Kingdom leads to faith evidenced by works. 

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