When you do an intense study, you often notice things that prompt further study! In my study of the kingdom this topic has resurfaced – tell what Jesus has done/don’t tell of His miracles. In the study of the Second Block of teaching (Matthew 9:30 NIV) Jesus “warned sternly” the blind who had their sight restored to not talk about the healing. He did this several times and in different circumstances to different people. I have heard good explanations for some of these events and they made sense. But when you start to do your own study, those sermons get added too. For me putting these events into the context of the Kingdom has added to the topic of Jesus forbidding some to talk about His works and others to keep silent.
In a loose count of the times Jesus told someone in the Gospels not to talk about Him or His miracles, I found eleven examples (there may be more). Some of these are the same story in the Synoptic Gospels. A good example of this at the Transfiguration when Jesus told the three disciples not to talk about this experience until after He rose from the dead. Many of these warnings came after healings. Mark 3: 11+12 shows Jesus frequently rebuking demons not to tell who He was! I will examine these groups later.
In contrast to “don’t tell” is Jesus directing the Man of the Gadarenes to go tell his family – Mark 5:19, Luke 8:39. We could also add the Great Commission in Matthew 28. To compound these events is the fact that the news of Jesus’ healing spread by word of mouth throughout the country. So, why the contrast, and what was the problem?
It is great when Matthew tells you the prophecy in 12:17. He quotes Isaiah 42: 1-4 – He will not quarrel, cry out, break a bent reed, or put out a smoldering wick (my paraphrase). Jesus’ humility and His mission to see the Father’s “kingdom come” is the center of the “don’t tell”. Connected to this is John 6: 15, Jesus knew if these works were spread about, they would “take Him by force and make Him king”.
The fact that people talked and spread the word about Jesus did not seem to be a problem! The warnings that came with the Transfiguration and certain healings, I think, were more wrapped up in the thinking of His brothers in John 7 – if you want to be famous show more miracles. Jesus had a mission, to bring in the Father’s kingdom! This meant the righteousness that could only be ours through His death for us. Jesus’ kingdom was going to be given to Him and He did not need the assistance of a human army, He had a Heaven one if He wanted one!
Jesus’ habit of silencing demons had two facets. 1. I will credit Jentezen Franklin with this statement, even though others may have said it before him. Jesus did not need the praises of demons (false praise). They will bow before Him soon enough, as will everyone else. It would seem their mocking praise was given to get Him off the path to the cross. It echoes Satan’s attempt at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry after Jesus fasted forty days. 2. Get the people thinking about a military messiah and freedom from Rome. John the Apostle wrote about Seven Signs Jesus did in his gospel. They would have been enough for non-kingdom minded factions to try and make Him a military figurehead, while they started a war.
So, why would Jesus tell the Man of the Gadarenes to go tell his family? Again, in my opinion, he was not Jewish (Matthew 10:5) and he was going to tell non-Jews about Jesus; they would not try to make Jesus an earthly king. Jesus sent out the first gentile missionary!
The Great Commission was after the Cross (and forty more days of Kingdom teaching) and Jesus was sending His disciples out to preach righteousness and show signs and wonders to prove the Holy Spirit was with them (be careful who is given the glory for the miracle).
- In Mark 1:43 and Matthew 16:20 Jesus told lepers, who were healed, to show themselves to the priest in accordance with the Law. This would have been a sign from heaven that they were always asking for. Instead, they went and talked about the miracle. We never see that their healing was lost, but you have to wonder if they were in the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost?!
When the Three on the Mount of Transfiguration was told not to talk about what they saw, they followed instructions (Luke 9:36). That is why they were given the explanations to the parables and were sent out to preach Jesus and His work on the cross.