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.
If you would like to receive my daily posts, you can subscribe to waylonbailey.com at the top of the page. Simply type in your email address, and click subscribe. It’s free and easy. When you receive a return email, confirm your desire to subscribe by clicking on the link.
Waylonbailey.com is my ministry across the Internet. I would appreciate your subscribing and also forwarding this and other posts to your friends. Thank you!