Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere. Mark 1, verses 43-45.
In reading through Scripture, this has always perplexed me. After reading through several translations, it still does. Why does Jesus tell the people He heals to keep quiet about it? One website (www.gotquestions.org) gave a plausible reason: it was to spur the people to fulfill requirements of Jewish law before anything else. The hundreds of complex purification codes that the Jewish leadership put over their people were supposed to be ways to honor God. Even though they could be complex (say, how to wash yourself, in a certain order, with certain conditions, and an order in which to present one’s self to priests for blessing), they were intended to give the people a way in which to reflectively contemplate God’s forgiveness. Jesus wanted to make sure that people did no wrong in the eyes of the religious leadership of His day, so it makes sense He would tell the newly healed to go comply with the law.
Another reason (that the same website gave) could have been that Jesus didn’t want people focusing on the miracles themselves. As the site said, “the same is true today. God would rather that we be focused on the healing miracle of salvation through Jesus Christ instead of focusing on other healings and/or miracles.” That makes sense, too, if you think about it. We shouldn’t get all wrapped around the axle about the miracle itself, taking our eyes off of He who caused that miracle and the miracle that is Jesus to begin with. It could be that Jesus wanted folks to focus on God first instead of just the healing, so He sent them away to not only comply with Jewish code but also give them time to contemplate and thank God on their own. That could be.
In reality, we don’t know why. There are dozens of stories throughout the four Gospels, then through the book of Acts, Paul’s epistles, and Peter’s epistles that talk about how people were healed in Bible times. Both of the reasons given above could apply to most any of those healings, those miracles that God performed on common ordinary people. They were probably people not unlike you or me; in our times, they might be people we saw at the mall, or in the office, or at a gas station or in line at Six Flags. Just people you would see or meet in the course of living your life. And yet, in their lives, God performed these miraculous game-changing feats that altered both their spiritual and physical well being.
They were human just like us: of course they felt compelled to share what had happened. Aren’t you glad there wasn’t Facebook in 1st century Judea? On this side of eternity, we may never really know why Jesus implored these people to keep quiet. What we know is that, in doing so, He taught us lessons too.
Lord, let me do Your bidding in all I do today, yet accept my joyous thanks for the miracles You perform in my life.
Read Luke 5, verses 12-16