Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why did Jesus say, "Don't Tell"?

Why did Jesus tell the people he healed not to tell anyone?

This is a curious thing, isn’t it? Especially in light of the fact that Jesus has commissioned us to make him known. We find that on several occasions during his earthly ministry that Jesus told the people whom he healed not to let anyone know about it.

This was not always the case, however. For instance, when Jesus delivered the Gerasene demoniac from the power of Satan, and the man “begged that he might be with him… Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you’” (Lk. 8:38-39). So here’s one time, at least, when Jesus told a man to tell everyone.

But on most other occasions he told people not to tell. In Matthew 9 we read about two blind men whom Jesus healed. It says,
And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it” (Matt 9:30).
In the first chapter of Mark we read of a leper who was healed; and it says,
Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them” (Mark 1:43-44).
Jesus told him to tell the priests because the law required that people who were healed of leprosy were to be thoroughly checked out by the priests and were to offer certain sacrifices and perform certain rituals (Lev. 14:1-32); but Jesus told him to tell no one else.

We also find that when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, her parents were astonished, but he “strictly charged them that no one should know” about it (Mk. 5:43).

On still another occasion, when Jesus healed a man who was deaf and mute, he charged the entire crowd to tell no one. “But the more he charged them,” it says, “the more zealously they proclaimed it” (Mk. 7:36).

This was often the case. People couldn’t keep it quite, especially the ones who had been healed. And you can understand their excitement, not to mention their gratitude! But why did Jesus say that they should tell no one? I think we find a clue in the account of the leper who was cleansed. Even though he was told not to mention it to anyone, it says,
But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter (Mk. 1:45)
If his miracles were widely known they would attract so much attention and create so much excitement that his movements would be inhibited. He “could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places.” He could no longer move about as he wished. This was while he was in the land of Israel, where he conducted almost all his earthly ministry. When he told the Geresene demoniac to tell everyone about the miracle he received, it was in a land that Jesus visited once, and then only very briefly. It would not hinder his movements there if everyone knew about it because he was not planning to stay there.

I should also point out that there was undoubtedly a concern on Jesus’ part that people’s attention would be distracted from what he regarded as a more important aspect of his ministry than that of working miracles, namely the ministry of the word. He came as a prophet and a teacher. But many would be attracted to Jesus only for the sake of the miracles he performed. They would be attracted to him much like they would be attracted to a carnival sideshow. They would not be interested in the truth he came to teach, but in having their senses dazzled by seeing a miracle. They would be like Herod. When Jesus was on trial before Herod, we’re told that Herod was very glad to see him, “because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him” (Lk. 23:8).

These are the main reasons why he told people not to tell. But the thing we should remember is that circumstances have changed and we should now do what Jesus told the Geresene demoniac. We should now declare to everyone how much God has done for us.


Anonymous said...

This was incrediably heplful thanks you so much and God Bless!

Doug Enick said...

Anonymous, you're welcome! I'm glad you found it helpful.

boyscout said...

Many are only interested in the healing process and have no interest in the Word especially when repentance is the criterica - same then same now. It's worse when most don't have healing power now and the faith becomes a joke when preachers have to compromise the Word to gain listeners.

Phillip said...

I think you're right, but that doesn't explain this instance. Luke 4:41: Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

Why would Jesus not want people to know he was the Messiah? As ironic as it is, a demon was perhaps that most credible source to speak to the authenticity of Jesus. Why then not let them speak and allow them to give proof?

There is a deeper reason. I think it has to do with Faith. It takes faith to please God. If the people had hardcore evidence, they wouldn't need faith.

Karen said...

this was a good explanation. thanks. it was certainly baffling to me as to why Jesus would sternly warn the blind.

Paula said...

Thank you for this explanation. I'd been wondering about this alot as I reread through the Gospels right now. Have a wonderful day :)

joseph36 said...

Thank you so much for your explanation on this chapter compare with many verses. it is very helpful to me since I am serving the Lord to unmature believers in M

Richard said...

I often wondered why Jesus said, "...to tell no one". Thank you for helping with understanding His reason for this.

Moriamo Salu Adewolu said...

I also believe that Jesus did not want it told because it was not yet his time to be crucified and every time that Jesus did a miracle they said that he was commuting a sin and they wanted to kill him, because the individuals that he was healing when they ask them they say Jesus the messiah. They did not consider Jesus to be their messiah.

Anonymous said...

really helpful thank you

Tor Voller said...

I'm currently reading through Mark and I had this question over and over again. Thank you so much for the answer. It makes so much sense now!

Joshua Amuga said...

@Phillip your argument is very interesting. Faith is very important to believe in God. if you believe in God only because of miracles you cant be a true believer. Jesus wanted his followers to believe in his Teaching before they will start seeing his works.

Anonymous said...

At that time healing and miracles were attributed by many to be the practices of those who do magic. Jesus, in fact, was considered by some to be a magician, and magic was one of the things prosecuted by the Romans. So one had to be careful going around doing things like that. Another point is that Jesus' teachings were more important for some of the people, but if it wasn't for his miracles, not many would pay attention to him at all. And yes, most people did address him only for the healing.


Very nice explanation. Thank you for revealing more things beyod my thought.

Anonymous said...

I just experienced a personal revelation about this quote. Jesus said this to keep us humble. By telling everyone, you become prideful as if you are more special to God than others. This incites envy and jealousy. Love does not boast, it is not proud. However, when the time is right, God will give you words and the situation to share your experience with others.

Anonymous said...

FYI, in "People couldn't keep it quite..."

"Quite" should be "quiet"

Thanks for the nice post.

Anonymous said...

All of the comments have a valid point of view...However. .We all know..even up to thIs day...Most people are for gain...no matter how much is presented for knowledge. ..Becoming a righteous person was the farthest thing
from their minds when sickness..disabilities. or death was upon them or their families. ..it was probably like a huge outdoor show. .

Anthony Flowers said...

The point of Jesus telling them not to tell, was for our benefit. Jesus, knew they would tell. It wasn't that it would hinder His ministry, because they told it all the same. The demon that He commanded to be silent about who He was is the key, because the demon had no choice, but you and I are different, we have free will. Jesus has the authority to command our bodies to be healed, command the wind and seas, command the demons to obey, but not to command our minds to follow Him. How many of us today, hear the voice of His word, but choose not to obey? One would think that being next to the One, that brought life back into me, healed me a leprosy, issue of blood, deformities, made the blind see, the deaf hear, and the cripple walk, would be more apt to obey His word, but because of free will it just isn't going to happen. You have to submit the free will to accept Him and choose to follow. Obedience is a willful choice in this life.