Christianity 201

October 18, 2013

Why Did Jesus Sometimes Ask Miracle Witnesses to Tell No One?

Jesus - Don't tell anyone

Doug Wolter posted this several months ago as Why did Jesus say, “Don’t tell others?”:

Yesterday I preached on four incredible stories from Mark 4:35-5:43 where Jesus calms the storm, heals the demoniac and the hemorrhaging woman, and raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  Afterwards, a member of my church asked me a great question: Why did Jesus tell the demon possessed man to go and tell others but told the ones who saw Jairus’ daughter being raised to strictly tell no one?  What a great question!  Here’s my response:

The demon-possessed man was in a Gentile region where not many knew about Jesus or cared about the coming Messiah. In Mark 5:17, after Jesus had healed the man, they begged him to leave the area.  Jesus left, but told the demoniac to go and tell what had happened to him since he would now be the only real witness in this region (Mark 5:19).

Now Jairus and his daughter lived in Galilee. This region would’ve been Jewish and therefore anticipating a coming Messiah and so Jesus wanted to keep this a secret because he didn’t want to stir up a big crowd.  The concern on Jesus’ part was that people’s attention would be distracted from what he really came to do, namely, the ministry of the word (Mark 1:38).  His essential aim was to preach repentance and faith (the message of the kingdom) and then die on a cross. After he died and rose again, that’s when he told his disciples to go and tell everyone who he was because that was the real message he came to bring as the Messiah.

Of course there are many of these passages:

Healing of Many:

Matthew 12:15 …A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him.

Peter’s Confession of Christ’s Lordship and Divinity:

Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

(also found in Mark 8 and Luke 9)

Returning from the Mountain of the Transfiguration:

Mark 9:2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus….

…8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

Casting Out Demons:

Mark 3:11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.

The Healing of a Deaf Man:

Mark 7:35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

The Healing of Jarius’ Daughter:

Luke 8:51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother… 

…54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Are Jesus’ reasons the same in each case, or do you think that there were different motivations for asking people not to tell what they had seen?

Jesus - Don't tell anyone 2


  1. Faith and community of faith. People these days often ask why is it someone does not keep their healing. Community of faith makes a difference. Do those about you support you in word or prayer or doubt, question and mock. Some people have the strength of spirit to stand up against such attack some cannot. Jesus would want to protect a family or person from social reactions including mockery by warning them not to tell anyone. It would be important for them to keep their healing just as he put out the scorners before doing something like raising the dead daughter. In fact that element is clearly part of the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter.

    Comment by George Hartwell — October 19, 2013 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  2. someone told somebody what happened at jairus house… or we wouldn’t be discussing it ….did the daughter stay in the house till she died?? then did they secretly bury her..??? or,,,, did no one in the area ask where she went to ???.there is no more mention of the girl again……once again jesus the son of god, the messiah..the saviour.. again someone goes against his orders…or is it all just another great big story book.?

    Comment by george — March 17, 2014 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

    • You’ve reminded me of this quotation from Philip Yancey:

      “The more I studied Jesus, the more difficult it became to pigeonhole him. He said little about the Roman occupation, the main topic of conversation among his countrymen; and yet he took up a whip to drive petty profiteers from the Jewish temple. He urged obedience to the Mosaic law while acquiring the reputation of a lawbreaker. He could be stabbed by sympathy for a stranger, yet turn on his best friend with the flinty rebuke, “Get behind me, Satan!” He had compromising views on rich men and loose women, yet both types enjoyed his company. “One day miracles seem to flow out of Jesus the next day his power was blocked by people’s lack of faith. One day he talked in detail of the Second Coming; another, he knew neither the day nor hour. He fled from arrest at one point and marched inexorably toward it at another. He spoke eloquently about peacemaking, then told his disciples to procure swords. His extravagant claims about himself kept him at the center of controversy, but when he he did something truly miraculous he tended to hush it up. As Walter Wink has said, if Jesus had never lived, we would not have been able to invent him.” ~~ Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan 1995) p.23 I

      There really is no mention again of many of the people Jesus interacted with. The gospel narratives all seem to focus more on Jesus dealings with his disciples (the ones called “The Twelve” as well as larger number of perhaps 70-120 “regulars”) and his dealings with the Pharisees.

      The story of Jarius’ daughter is also not an isolated example of Jesus telling someone who is healed not to tell anyone, and then the person doing just the opposite. I’ve often wondered if some of those, “Now then, don’t tell anyone about this, okay?” requests were almost tongue-in-cheek.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 17, 2014 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

  3. the last post is borderline blasphemy in my opinion. Jesus never compromised or contradicted himself. there were always reasons why he did and said whatever he did and said. they were not necessarily the same always. you hit a valid reason why. Jesus was not interested in becoming known as the Jeanie in a bottle type personality. He knew which areas and the type of people who would want to promote him simply because He provides for their personal, material, physical enhancement. He rebuked those who came to Him for utilitarian reasons. He wanted truly repentant believers, casting their faith upon Him for the truth of the need for forgiveness, not for life enhancement purposes. He took different approaches for those living in Gentile regions verses Jewish regions. Plus He never needed the testimony of man because He knew what was in man, and that many of the ones who endorsed him vehemently would later oppose him vehemently.

    Comment by steve rockey — February 25, 2015 @ 11:59 am | Reply

    • Which “last post” are you referring to? This was all from the same author. Can you identify the phrase or sentence which you find objectionable?

      (sp-Genie, you’re thinking of a TV show title)

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 25, 2015 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

    • I’m sorry, when a blog post this old gets comments, it’s hard to get back into the topic. I see that you may have meant posts in the comment thread, which I would just call comments.

      George is a regular voice here and has written articles for the blog. He’s looking at this through the lens of a Christian counselor, which is what he does vocationally. I’d never thought about the ‘putting out’ of the people before Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter (which was the topic of our sermon last Sunday) but I think this reason is valid, though it may have been one of many. Jesus says, “She’s not dead only sleeping;” and they laugh. He doesn’t need her to see that lack of faith when she ‘wakes up,’ so he goes in with just the parents and a couple of his disciples.

      Whether or not you believe that the crowd’s lack of faith could cause her to not ‘keep her healing,’ is a position that you could debate endlessly. The girl, like Lazarus, died eventually; neither of them are living today. On the other hand though, we believe that both of them lived within a reasonable amount of perpetuity, they didn’t die the next week or next month. But can a person’s lack of faith — or the mockery of those near them — undo a miraculous healing? We know from the parable of the soils that some seed fell on good ground and sprang up but was eventually choked by the heat of the day. Does that apply here? I would argue for that.

      These are the types of considerations that enter into why I believe Jesus did what he did.

      I think both of you, and me, would agree that there is no contradiction expressed or implied. The essential nature of Jesus is not contradicted by his acting differently in different situations, i.e. healing the blind.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 25, 2015 @ 1:11 pm | Reply

  4. Having, in my daily Bible reading, begun the New Testament again, and now having reached well into Mark, I finally did come to my computer to search out the question that has been urging me to be answered, why Jesus so often told them not to tell anyone of the healing He’d just done. Your page is the first link I clicked on. Thank you for addressing the issue. : ) Following, is the 2nd link I clicked on, and it filled in even more of my desire to *know*. I present it for you’all to see too. : )

    Comment by Ma Sands — January 2, 2016 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for that link; I just looked over his article, there is much to learn from there!

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 2, 2016 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

      • Ah. You make me feel useful. Thank YOU. : )

        Comment by Ma Sands — January 2, 2016 @ 9:24 pm

  5. Thank you so very much for addressing this topic. I just finished a bed time reading with my son & I walked away perplexed about Jarius’ daughter. You’ve answered my curiousity & I appreciate it. I believe your logic is correct, & I’m glad you sites other verses for me to check out. I enjoyed this very much. May you be filled with His love & peace as you continue to share His Word.

    Comment by Ali — March 11, 2016 @ 2:45 am | Reply

  6. We know from Romans 10:17 “For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Luke 16:31 makes this statement, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”
    “For without faith it is impossible to please God.” “If you have faith, all things are possible.”

    Comment by Max A Steed — July 23, 2017 @ 9:48 am | Reply

    • Hence Jesus said,”Tell no one.” Miracles will not convince people to confess Jesus as Lord.

      Comment by Max A Steed — July 23, 2017 @ 9:53 am | Reply

  7. Jesus was led by the Spirit. The Peace of God also guided Him. There was a path laid out before Him. Jesus wanted His miracle healings kept secret, for He knew that the revelation of such miracles could lead to a frenzy of mass hysteria, jeopardising His mission, as the masses proclaimed Him as the Messiah. Their understanding was that a military political revolution would take place as the Messiah. led them to victory over their oppressors. Jesus needed to be led by the Spirit to fulfill His mission. … not to be exalted as the coming political military conqueror.

    Comment by Graham Moir — December 7, 2018 @ 6:36 pm | Reply

  8. JEREMAIH 20:9

    Comment by Darnell Dowd — December 8, 2018 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

    • The reference you supplied is,

      But if I say, “I will not remember Him
      Or speak anymore in His name,”
      Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire
      Shut up in my bones;
      And I am weary of holding it in,
      And I cannot endure it.

      We’re all sitting around the office trying to see how this fits in. Perhaps you could elaborate.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 8, 2018 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

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