I’m impressed with the attitude and non-self-promotional behavior of Jesus in his ministry!
I was especially struck by Jesus’ attitude as I started reading through Mark’s gospel again recently. Mark begins by telling how Jesus was introduced by John the Baptist; he didn’t even introduce himself!
In the opening chapters of Mark’s gospel, Jesus “sternly” warns the people he healed, “Don’t say anything to anyone” (Mark 1.44, CEB). And, “Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down at his feet and shouted, ‘You are God’s Son!’ But he strictly ordered them not to reveal who he was” (Mark 3.11, CEB).
As things began to take off, Jesus refused to promote himself or even allow others to promote him. “He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him” (Mark 1.34, CEB).
Once, after a day of tremendous ministry, “Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. Simon and those with him tracked him down. When they found him, they told him, ‘Everyone’s looking for you!'” (Mark 1.35-37, CEB).
This was a test. Jesus could have easily stayed in the area and rode out his “fifteen minutes of fame.” Instead, he said, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come” (Mark 1.38, CEB). Jesus stayed focused on his mission and refused to be derailed by his growing fame!
There’s a great deal of emphasis today on building your brand. Leaders and public figures do this. Churches do it, too. Bloggers focus on well-designed sites and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in order to attract more readers. The internet and social media make the task of promotion easier than ever!
But, in the church, all of our promotion must be Christ-centered and mission-driven. It’s all about Jesus and the mission he’s given us. Back in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he gathered some followers, and said, “Come, follow me, and I’ll show you how to fish for people” (Mark 1.17, CEB). It centered around Jesus’ mission!
Now, there was a reason Jesus wanted to keep things under wraps early on (it’s often referred to as the “Messianic secret”). Today, we are charged to be witnesses of Jesus and to go and make disciples. It’s no secret. But, in sharing the Good News, we need to learn from Jesus’ non-SELF-promotional attitude, and keep the focus where it belongs—on Jesus the Savior, the hope of the world!