Coming Out and Coming In
Coming out. There are many reactions to this moment that are valid and sacred but the coming out moment is one that many queer folx share. Coming out is this moment of reckoning of who you are to yourself and to others. Coming out isn’t the pinnacle, the climax if you will, of the queer experience; it is the coming into oneself. It is naming, identifying who you are and claiming your own voice. Coming out is also about coming into your own voice.
Throughout the gospels we see Jesus on his own journey of coming out and coming into his own voice. Throughout the book of Mark, we see Jesus interacting and engaging with a wide array of people, some Jewish and some gentiles. After an encounter with Jesus these people are often charged with not telling anyone about what they had witnessed that day, keeping a closed lip on who the “son of man” is. In private however, we see Jesus asking his disciples to tell him who they think he is, and in some moments he confirms the disciples notions of who he is and in others he tells them.
Throughout the gospels we see Jesus on his own journey of coming out and coming into his own voice.
In Mark 11, something contrary to the beginning chapters of the gospel of Mark happens. Jesus allows the people to declare him as “Hosanna”, to exult him… this has not happened in the book of Mark. Jesus enters Jerusalem riding a colt while everyone is praising him and calling him “Hosanna” (You could call this a parade of sorts). Jesus processes into Jerusalem, on his tour he stops first at the temple in Jerusalem before going out into the city (Jesus was going out onto the town with his boys, you could say). The next day on this fabulous Jesus tour train, Jesus gets hangry and curses a fig tree on his way to the temple. When he enters the temple he sees people gathered in ways that the temple is not supposed to be used… he is infuriated by this and overturns the tables in the temple. As he was leaving the temple, the disciples see a fig tree and Jesus took this moment to talk about petitioning God. The chapter ends with Jesus answering questions about his authority, his divinity, about his identity. Mark 11 is Jesus’ coming out moment but most importantly it is his moment of coming into his voice. Mark 11 teaches us how to come out in our own narratives of life and to come into our own voices.
At the beginning of this chapter we see Jesus preparing to make a grand entrance into the city of Jerusalem. He has instructed the disciples to bring him a colt to ride into the city, he even gives them instructions on how to politely
steal borrow it. When Jesus enters into the city riding the colt, he is greeted by the people shouting ““Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:9-10, ESV)! The people are placing their cloaks on the ground for Jesus to step on. This is a huge moment in the story of Jesus because this is his moment of recognition of who he is. The people see him for who he is. In the chapters leading up to Mark 11, Jesus has charged those that he has healed or encountered not to tell others about him. He tells them not to tell anyone about what they have witnessed or about who he is (Mark 7:36), but the people always do. Whenever I read about Jesus telling the people not to tell about him, I am always perplexed by this because I thought the point of Jesus’ ministry was for everyone to know (at least that is what they taught me in Sunday School). However, after being in divinity school for the past two years I have learned that to be the “son of God”, to be declared as “Hosanna” is a dangerous thing to be; it becomes political.
Whenever I read about Jesus telling the people not to tell about him, I am always perplexed by this because I thought the point of Jesus’ ministry was for everyone to know (at least that is what they taught me in Sunday School).
The word Hosanna is used six times throughout the bible and it is used as an exclamation of praise and a phrase that means to “save us”. The authors of Feasting on the Gospels say, “Jesus enters Jerusalem like a Messiah-king leading a royal procession in celebration of divine deliverance.” The people saw a “savior”, someone who they thought was going to deliver them out of their physical oppression. They saw what they wanted to see in Jesus’ identity… a king. However, Jesus’ ministry wasn’t about earthly rule, it was about the Kingdom of God. In this Kingdom, it is not about the hierarchy of the King but about the presence of people being with everyone with no divides. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was peaceful and dramatic. Perhaps, this entrance for Jesus was a statement for himself. His declaration of who he is and his readiness for the world to see it rather than a political ploy.
In this Kingdom, it is not about the hierarchy of the King but about the presence of people being with everyone with no divides.
As a queer person, I cannot help but identify with Jesus’ struggle as depicted in Mark 11. There is a tension between his proclamation of identity and people’s interpretation of it, they’re seeing what they wanted to in his identity. When I came out, there were assumptions made on my behalf, of who I now was and who I was not. Comments were made on the transitory nature of my identity such as the all too common “it’s just a phase”. Both those who I hold close and whom I have no connection spouted phrases wrought with the evangelical undertones of “choice” and “not that type”. I found that the irony of coming out is the ability to finally say who you are to ears that are unready or unwilling to listen. The ability to define yourself to others whose dictionaries are closed to any alterations. Therefore, we begin to define ourselves and introduce ourselves with the same amount of fanfare as Jesus. Attempting to definitively announce our existence to an audience working just as hard to reflect their own expectations of our identity onto us.
I found that the irony of coming out is the ability to finally say who you are to ears that are unready or unwilling to listen. The ability to define yourself to others whose dictionaries are closed to any alterations.
In Mark 11:15-19, when Jesus “cleanses the temple” this is him coming into his voice and authority. When Jesus flips the tables he is flipping the tables of injustice, he is flipping the tables that say “there is no room for you here unless” and recreating, restoring the space for its intended purpose of prayer. Jesus comes into his voice and calls out the injustice in the temple that is preventing people from being able to commune with the Lord. He is removing the barriers for people to commune with God.
When Jesus flips the tables he is flipping the tables of injustice, he is flipping the tables that say “there is no room for you here unless” and recreating, restoring the space for its intended purpose of prayer.
Jesus “queers” the temple by coming out and coming into his own voice. Just to be queer (pause for laughter, pun intended), to be queer is not only to disrupt the binaries personally but also those socially, politically, economically, theologically and environmentally. To be queer is to be a disrupter of the “norm”, it is to help society redefine the “norm” or to abolish it entirely. Like Jesus we are called to come out and come into the temple to queer it up. To be queer is to be prophetic, to see the injustices and speak out against them. Like Christ we must flip the tables that create and support systems of injustice, especially in the church. We have been called to come out and to come into our own voice like Christ did, creating spaces for others to do the same.
 “Mark 11 .” STEP Bible. Accessed May 13, 2022 https://www.stepbible.org/?q=strong&options=VNHUG&qFilter=G2839.
 Jarvis, Cynthia A., and Johnson, E. Elizabeth, eds. Feasting on the Gospels–Mark : A Feasting on the Word Commentary. Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2014. P. 339
Jasmine “Jazz” Logan (she/her) is a third-year student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Jazz is from Arizona but most recently lived in Los Angeles, California, before attending WFU School of Divinity. Jazz has aspirations of becoming an ordained minister (denomination pending) and has a passion for teaching the next generation that they are beloved.