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Jesus once healed a man of leprosy and then strongly warned him not to tell
anyone about it. But instead of keeping it secret, the man went right out and
began speaking freely, telling everyone who would listen.
Several questions come to mind in this story, but the biggest one is Why didn’t Jesus want the healed leper to tell anyone about his healing? “See that you don’t tell this to anyone,” Jesus had told him. But the former leper didn’t obey Jesus; he immediately started spreading the news. And as a result of this man’s disobedience, Mark 1:45 tells us,
“…Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.”
Today, we want everyone to know about Jesus. But in his own day, Jesus did not want everyone to know about him. Earlier in the chapter, in verse 34, we read that Jesus would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. And in chapter eight, when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say I am?” and Peter replied, “You are the Christ,” Jesus responded by warning the disciples not to tell anyone about him.
Why would Jesus want his disciples not to tell anyone about him? Here was the visible, flesh and blood Jesus, working miracles and preaching all over the country. What better time for his followers to lead people to him and tell them who he was?
But according to Mark, Jesus was very clear, and even stern when he said, “Don’t tell anyone who I am.”
Jesus knew something that neither the crowds nor his own disciples knew: The Messiah was going to be very different from what they expected.
We’re told in Mark 11: 8-10 that at the end of his ministry, when Jesus entered Jerusalem the week before he was crucified,
“…many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘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 11:8-10).
When people heard that Jesus was the Messiah, they were happy to receive the news. The problem lay in their definitions and expectations. The people expected a king who would rally the people, and with the blessing of God, lead them to victory over their Roman conquerors and restore the kingdom of David in all its glory.
Their idea of Messiah was different from God’s idea of Messiah. When they heard the term, they misunderstood it, because they had been conditioned to expect something else.
So Jesus did not want his disciples or those he healed to spread the news about him too soon. It was not yet the right time for the people to hear. The right time for the news to be spread was after Jesus had been executed and raised from the dead.
Only then could the wonderful truth of Israel’s Messiah being the Son of God and Savior of the world begin to be understood for what it was.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.