Jesus explains to James and John in Mark 10:25 that: "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
One of the main themes in the Gospel of Mark is that Jesus did not want it to be known that He was the Son of God. He instructed His disciples not to tell anyone His true identity, He gave strict orders to those He healed not to spread the word about His miracles, and He silenced demons who recognized Him for who He was. Why would Jesus seek to keep His identity a secret?
Thankfully, the answers to this question can also be found in Mark. Jesus likely sought to conceal His identity for three very good reasons.
- He did not want to be turned into an earthly king
When Jesus was born the people of Israel had long been expecting a Messiah, but their expectations were radically different from the Messiah that God provided. They expected an earthly warrior king who would lead them to victory over Rome. Had Jesus revealed His true identity, they would have attempted to force Him into this role, and would have proceeded to serve Him as an earthly king. Jesus explains to James and John in Mark 10:25 that: "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
- He did not want His identity to detract from His message
Had Jesus revealed that He was the Messiah, people would have attempted to serve Him or to use Him for their own religious or political advantage. They would have focused more on who He was than what He had to say. He needed them to hear and take to heart His spiritually inspiring words. Jesus' message that the most important commandments are to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31) could have easily been overshadowed by His Messiah status and lost forever to time.
- His true identity could only be understood after the resurrection
Jesus' apostles were aware of His true identity, and yet not even they could understand why Jesus had to die on the cross. When Jesus tells them about His inevitable persecution, Peter cannot fathom that the Son of God could possibly be put to death by His enemies. If the apostles could not even understand the true meaning of Jesus' death and resurrection, then how could the multitudes that followed Him?
When Jesus appears to the Eleven after His resurrection, He finally says to them: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15). It was only now, after His mission was complete, that those who had the eyes to see and ears to hear were capable of understanding who He truly was. No political or religious expectations could now change why He came to earth and what He did for us. All that remained was the truth of His resurrection.