This is the age where mass-marketing of the Gospel is universally and uncritically accepted as evangelism. Therefore, it is not surprising that someone might ask the question, “Why did Jesus often hide his identity?”
Among other things, the Scriptures state that it was to prevent the crowds from either killing Him or to stop His elevation to earthly kingship by the people. These events had to happen at the proper time and place and so He had to take measures to conceal who He was. But what of the other similar actions of His, like the parables? Many wonder, "Why all the mystery?"
Scripture address this,
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, "`they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' " – Mk 4:10-12
To the Pelagian and other relatives of the humanist, such statements about "outsiders" as here in Mark or in Acts 16:9 and Isaiah 6:9,10 are inscrutable. This is a result of the marriage of Christian orthodoxy with religious humanism in the minds of many or most Western Christians. Such a "marriage" will always be fraught with theological conundrums – the two can never be compatible.
Orthodox Christian faith lifts God on high. Humanism lifts man.
As one modern theologian quipped, “All men are born Pelagians.” That is, we love to think that, given the Gospel in the correct manner (especially without the ugly and repulsive elements like the need to repent and submit), all men will see the beauty of Christ and turn to Him and be saved. This is the falsehood which the Apostle so eloquently addresses in 1Cor 1-2 and Romans 9.
Men would rather suffer the torments of Hell than acknowledge the Christ, the Creator, and submit to Him and call Him LORD.
Then there is grace and the work done on the bitterly hostile and evil human heart by the Holy Spirit. Understood in the light of all Scripture, it is not so puzzling: God hates some men and leaves them to their schemes and devices. Others, He loves. But why so few? Now that is the puzzle. Grace is grace. It is not grace if it is universal, as the mass marketers falsely proclaim, it is your due.
Godly evangelism does not woo people nor does it flatter their intellect or sensibilities. The true Gospel is simple and short: Men are commanded to repent and believe in the risen Christ. When any of these simple elements are altered or removed we have a false gospel. This is the argument given in 1 Cor. 1-2. The more smooth the "gospel", the more likely it is worldly wisdom. Bill Bright was an expert in this.
When Jesus told Pilate who He is, this was evangelism. Consider the response: an angry crowd bent on murder. So then, the other (and most common) purpose of evangelism is preparing men for Judgment – all to the horror of the Humanist who thinks God is his buddy and friend. God hates unrepentant sinners.
Paul was adamant. He did not lace his Gospel with flowery appeals as do virtually all modern evangelists in the West. The true Gospel is not seeker-sensitive but seeker-repulsive because no one seeks after God except those the Father draws. And they will come….