Don’t Tell Anyone

After delivering His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), as He was walking toward Capernaum, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus, asking to be made clean (Matthew 8:1-2). Jesus heals the man and then says to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone” (Matthew 8:5).

Why would Jesus not want him to tell everyone?

Jairus[1] was a well known and prominent member of the Jewish community, serving as a leader in the local synagogue. As a leader his primary duties included maintenance of the synagogue building and making sure everything was needed for the worship services. His responsibilities would equate to a trustee in today’s church structure. Jairus had one child, a daughter, nearing the age of twelve, the age a girl became a lady in ancient Jewish custom and eligible for marriage (Luke 8:41-42). These facts make her sickness all the more intense.

As Jesus was walking to Jarius’ house some people came up to them with the sad news that the young girl had died. Jesus said to Jarius, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (Luke 8:50). Once in the home, Jesus went into the girl’s room, took her by the hand and said, “‘Talitha koum!’ (which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up’)” (Mark 5:41). The girl got up and walked around and then Jesus gave two commands; He asked that she be given some food, and “ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened” (Luke 8:56).

If you were healed of leprosy or had a daughter risen from the dead, could you keep it quiet, or would you want the whole world to know what happened? These are not the only two examples of Jesus asking for silence. He healed a deaf and mute man and “commanded them not to tell anyone” (Mark 7:36). He gave a blind man his sight and told him, “Don’t go into the village” (Mark 8:26). But maybe the most astonishing time Jesus told people not to tell anyone about Him was after Peter made his bold profession.

As Jesus and His disciples were walking through the villages surrounding Caesarea Philippi the discussion turned toward what people thought of Him. The disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets” (Mark 8:28). Jesus then asked them directly, “But what about you…Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29). Answering on behalf of the group, Peter said, “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:29). Peter’s answer was a confession of faith and a proclamation that Jesus was, and is, the anointed Son of God. “Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him” (Mark 8:30).

You would think Jesus would want everyone to know who He was.

Not long after Peter’s confession, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him to the top of a mountain where He was “transfigured before them…And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:2-4). Once the experience was over, and they were coming down the mountain, “Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen” (Mark 9:9).

Why did Jesus tell people not to tell anyone who He was or say anything about what He had done for them?

The issue seems to be one of timing. Jesus did not want to be openly proclaimed as Messiah until His formal proclamation in Jerusalem, during the event we call Palm Sunday.[2] More specifically, after their experience with Jesus on the mountain with Elijah and Moses, Jesus told His disciples not say anything “until the Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mark 9:9).

Jesus’ official ministry was announced after His baptism when “the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:10-11). His messianic mission was proclaimed as He rode through Jerusalem on a colt while the crowds chanted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Mark 11:9-10). His victory was won when “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And the centurion who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God’” (Mark 15:38-39). His divine power and authority were proclaimed when the angel said, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:6).

The irony is when Jesus told those He healed not to tell anyone they could not keep it quiet and did tell people about Him. Now, Jesus has asked us to tell everyone about Him and we keep the good news to ourselves.

Every person who professes the name of Jesus has been called, commissioned and equipped to share the good news of Jesus with others.

Are you not telling anyone or are you telling everyone?


[1] The story of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead is found in all three Synoptic Gospels – Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, and Luke 8:40-56.

[2] See Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, and Luke 19:28-38.

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