Holman Bible Dictionary
Perhaps Jesus avoided the title due to the popular messianic expectations of the people—they were looking for a political deliverer. Some believe that Jesus prohibited messianic proclamation so that He could continue to move about freely in public. The only parable of Jesus which Mark recorded exclusively may provide a clue to the purpose of the messianic secret. Jesus introduced the parable of the secret growing seed (Mark 4:26-29 ) with the proverb: “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it should come to light” (Mark 4:22 NAS). Jesus intended for people of faith to learn the secret of His messiahship ( Mark 4:11 ,Mark 4:11,4:34 ). He compared the mystery of the kingdom of God to a man who sows seed and discovers, to his amazement, that seeded ground produces plants which secretly grow at night—”he knoweth not how” (Mark 4:27 ). Like the seed which is covered by ground, the secret of Jesus' identity would be concealed for a season: discovering the messianic secret would take time. Jesus did not force people to accept Him as Messiah; “those who had ears to hear” must learn the secret on their own. The disciples not only needed time to recognize Jesus as Messiah (Mark 4:41 ; Mark 6:52 ; Mark 8:17-21 ), they also needed time to come to terms with His messianic agenda: messianic suffering precedes messianic glory (Mark 9:31-32 ). Complete human understanding of the messianic secret would only be possible after the resurrection (Mark 9:9-10 ). Therefore, no immediate messianic profession would possess any depth of understanding (especially demonic confession!). Jesus forced the disciples to think about the secret until they could articulate the secret. See Jesus; Christ; Messiah .
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Messianic Secret'. Holman Bible Dictionary. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/m/messianic-secret.html. 1991.