Why Did Jesus Tell His Followers Not To Tell About Him?

We all know and understand that Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching. That part makes sense. Everyone needs to know Christ. We all also understand that we have been given the responsibility to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

That makes the question even more difficult to comprehend. What did Jesus mean when he repeatedly told the people around him not to tell anyone what they had seen and heard? And, why did He tell them this? Mark 1:40-45 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It shows Jesus as He truly is. Having encountered a man with leprosy, Jesus had great compassion on the man. His heart went out to Him. Jesus healed the man of his leprosy. After the healing Jesus “sternly warned” the man to tell no one. He simply was to go to the priest as prescribed by the law of Moses. Instead, the man told everyone what had happened. This story is fairly representative of all those who were told to tell no one.

Why did Jesus tell him not to tell anyone?

The issue primarily seems to be one of timing and proximity.

After the resurrection, Jesus repeatedly and consistently told His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Each of the Gospels has its own commission to take the message to the world. We commonly call this the Great Commission.

It was in the time before the resurrection that Jesus counseled His disciples and others not to publish widely what they had seen and heard.

Why was this the case?

First, Jesus did not want people to only associate Him with the miraculous. He was the bringer of good tidings not simply a miracle worker.

Second, Jesus did not want people to make Him an earthly king. We know that many Jews looked for the kind of Messiah who could overthrow Rome. It would be an easy step for all of the people to miss the significance of what Jesus came to do. As long as Jesus turned water into wine and a few loaves and fish into abundance, the people wanted to follow Him.

Third, Jesus wanted the freedom to move about Israel unhindered. When the man cleansed of his leprosy disobeyed Jesus and began to publish the matter “Jesus could not enter any town openly but stayed outside in lonely places” (Mark 1:45). Many other towns were deprived of the Lord’s presence. Jesus had not wanted that to happen.

Interestingly, Jesus told those outside Israel to proclaim the message. The fifth chapter of Mark is quite interesting. Jesus healed the demoniac from the Decapolis (largely Gentile area). He told him to go back home and tell what the Lord had done for him (Mark 5:19). In the same chapter he healed the daughter of the leader of the Synagogue and told them to tell no one (Mark 5:43). It was a matter of proximity. Inside Israel, the messianic fervor might lead to a premature confrontation with Rome or the Jewish leaders. Jesus “hour” had not yet come.

We live in this wonderful new age when all must hear the message of Good News.

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2 Comments


  1. Ed Matthew
    Feb 26, 2012

    As it was, so it continues; perhaps, not much longer. As Milton aptly portrayed the battleground drawn over territory and attitude: It is better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven. So the “Religion” of the flesh continues, often masquerading as “christian or redundantly, christian-like” to draw to itself disciples who see themselves as paying dues: to be eligible to have dominion over others or even rule (be a god to) their “own world.” The concept of “loyalty” (admired & sought after) may become a set of principles in itself. Always a good check on our faith walk (our Loyalty & Principles) is to lay our purpose, our timing and our proximity before the Will of the Father; for He hears the groaning of our spirit and answers beyond which we are able to ask or comprehend. To accept that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours is to accept the path that challenges and secures (proves) His to Him. Even (especially) when no one else understands. The action of Faith defines Behavior the “Natural man” perceives as only foolishness, to be a Servant, His Treasure. Exodus 19: 5-6

    Yet, we were not created or intended to walk His Path alone but in the fellowship of Believers: the Body and Bride of Christ Jesus. Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Hebrews 13:3. To be in agreement is a wonderful experience. Thank you.

    What a wonderful example we have in Jesus Christ! What a wonderful teaching we have with your explanation! Let His Light so shine…. Thank you!!!

  2. […] Tody we continue where left off yesterday. There are no specific scriptures for this one, you’ll need to refer back to the verses posted here the day before.  Louisiana pastor Waylon Bailey has treated this subject well at the article titled Why Did Jesus Tell His Followers Not To Tell About Him? […]

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I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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[Thanksgiving] I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— — 1 Corinthians 1:4-5 (NIV)