Why did Jesus not allow people to share their experiences?

Ok so maybe I am being thick here but something has been puzzling me for a while. Why did Jesus, after healing people or casting out demons, usually tell them not to tell of what had happened? In fact not just that they shouldn’t tell, but the language used is very strong: he commanded or he ordered in some cases…

I have been re-reading Marks Gospel this morning and noticed this several times and I just don’t get why he would say that. I mean for example he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead and the bible says he gave strict orders not to let anyone know about it. Strict orders. The guys daughter has just been raised from the dead and he gives strict orders not to talk about it – I mean that is quite an ask!  And in Mark 7 he commands the healed deaf/mute man not to tell anyone. This is a man who has not been able to hear or speak and he is not allowed to explain how he suddenly can. I mean isn’t that a bit odd?

It is also particularly apparent when he is dealing with the demon-posessed. He is very firm when they call out that he is the Son of God, Holy or The Christ, he always silences them, rebukes them or does not allow them to speak. In Luke 4:41 it specifically says he would not allow them to speak becasue they knew he was the Christ.

But why? My husband and I have been discussing this and the only obvious answer is that if he allowed people to spread the word in this way it would possibly take away from their freedom to chose, and the bible does make it clear that we have to chose for ourselves whether we believe. God is not a dictator.  I just can’t think of anything else. In terms of the demons calling out his name I can see that maybe it is to do with the fact of who they are and not worthy to even say his name or to speak the truth.  But then in the case of miracles and healings, why perform them in the first place? Because surely performing signs and wonders was a part of showing that he was the Son of God? so why perform them and not let people share what had happened (although it does say in several places that they did anyway!)

In Mark 8:30 he even tells the disciples not to tell ayone who he is. So perhaps it was about timing? Maybe the timing wasn’t right to reveal who he was?

I just don’t know. I would really appreciate some advice here! As I said, I may be being really dense and missing something obviouis but it has been bugging me for a while, so someone give me a heads up please!

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  • Reply
    June 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    This theme of the Messianic secret, as some commentators describe it, is very much part of Mark's telling of the gospel and isn't found in the same way in the other three Gospels. Get a good commentary on Mark to accompany your reading and it will help you much more than a brief blog comment from me ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    June 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Some sceptics suggest that the injunctions to silence are an invention of the gospel writers who were worried about people challenging the credibility, or lack of eye witness accounts of such miracles. After all, you would expect matters such as raised corpses to attract widespread attention and comment – and there are no mentions of such events in writers from around that period. For example, its seems unlikely that the claims that, at the time of Christ's crucifixion, the dead were raised and walked through the streets to be witnessed by many, would have been sure to be widely reported. It is almost inconceivable that such an astounding event would not have found its way into documents of the time or, through hearsay, into later historical accounts – such as Pliny or Tacitus.
    It could be that Jesus wanted us to rely on our faith though, not to seek for proofs and signs and miracles to bolster our belief?

  • Reply
    June 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    thank guys. some food for thought there ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    June 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I've been studying this, and two of the prominent things that stick out (more with the demons) is
    1-Jesus ?didnt want testimony of who he was to come from demons. They speak lies too, it would come from unclean mouths and from enemies. The Pharisees also thought he was from the devil, maybe if they heard this it would cause too much damage, as they'd have 'evidence' of the alliance.
    2-if peopleheardwho he was they already have expectations of the messiah that weren't actually in line with what god made him to be. What would have happened if they became disappointed when he didn't defeat the Romans? Or what would they have done to make him their messiah, not gods messiah?

    My own thoughts. God had incredible plans for Jesus, they needed to be worked out. It says they "knew" who he was, not just they knew he was the messiah. Maybe letting that information get out would have reduced the weffectiveness of what Jesus planned to be and do. After all, for people then, who's experience was very limited, and most of the teaching they knew was taught to them and likely twisted as they were unable to do it themselves, it would have been really overwhelming. Jesus came with love, and went to open hearts, what open hearts might have been closed after being freaked out by such a revelation?
    Jesus left the hometown where he wasn't welcome and where they tried to kill him (before his time) to find hearts that were open and he never told everything at once, he said who he was simply, or by scripture. There is power in scripture, and the holy spirit works through Jesus, and now our words, his power is imparted when Jesus released it (we release it too, when we live out god's purpose for our lives, and speak and do as the father speaks and does which we are now empowered to do by the holy spirit. But that's a whole other discussion) so, when Jesus said who he was, he said it with the power and authority given by god in the spirit. Whereas testimonies from humans, and especially from demons, where notimparted with the same power and authority that Jesus deserves and god designed.

    Hope that makes sense!

  • Reply
    July 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    thanks Helen, some interesting things to think through, thanks for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

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