Question: Why did Jesus warn people not to share what He had done for them?Posted: January 7, 2010
NOTE: due to an error, this post did not post at its scheduled time, which was Wednesday morning. I apologize.
By far, the most popular question we’ve received from the first 2 days of reading (Matthew 1-12 & 13-23) is “Why did Jesus warn people not to share what He had done for them?” It is a bit confusing at first because after all, isn’t that why we’re here and didn’t Jesus command us to take the gospel to the nations (Matthew 28-19-20; Acts 1:8)?
Yes, Jesus did command us to take the gospel to the nations, but that was after His rescue mission was complete. Sin’s price had been paid and He had conquered death, hell, and Satan by rising from the dead. Prior to the crucifixion and resurrection, there were several instances in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus sternly warns people not to share that He is the Messiah or what He has done for them.
In Matthew 8:4, Jesus heals a man with leprosy and says to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone…” In Matthew 9:30, after giving sight to two blind men, Jesus “sternly warned them, ‘See that no one knows about it.’” In Matthew 12:16, after healing many people of many diseases, Jesus “ordered them not to make him known.” In Matthew 16:20, after the disciples confess Him as the Christ (Messiah), Jesus “strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.” Finally, in Matthew 17:9, after Peter, James, and John witnessed the Transfiguration, Jesus commanded them,”‘Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.’”
There are several reasons why Jesus would have made these commands and warnings:
In the case of the leper, Jesus called the man to show himself to the priests in accordance with Levitical law (Leviticus 14) and to let their testimony confirm the man’s complete healing of leprosy. The man’s testimony may have been disputed, but the priestly testimony would not be.
Jesus didn’t come to be a rockstar; He came as Messiah, our Rescuer. Yes, His miracles were done in public and were meant to reveal His divine power and support His claim as Messiah. But, many came to see Him only as a healer and miracle worker and were unwilling to follow those signs to see Him as Messiah. They wanted to see the magic show and get a free meal, not accept Jesus as their Messiah. So, Jesus wanted to fend off as much of this crowd as possible.
Jesus was also aware that the repeated miracles and demonstrations of His divine power could attract a following that would try to raise Him up as a great political and/or military leader. This was the historical expectation many Jews had of the Messiah and of course, nothing about Jesus’ birth, family, life, and public ministry lined up with this thinking. Jesus did not want people to become fanatical about Him and attempt to raise Him up as the political or military leader they expected Messiah to be. Also, Jesus did not want to prematurely incite the religious establishment that would then come after Him and have Him killed for His claims to be Messiah. This was, after all, why Jesus was killed – He claimed to be the King of the Jews, yet the Jews did not receive Him. The timing of it all had to be according to the Father’s plan.
In all of these, there is a bottom line reason why Jesus would warn people as He did: “Perhaps the most important reason Jesus did not want His miracle power to be too highly acclaimed was that this was not the time of His exaltation but of His humiliation” (John MacArthur). Jesus’ life was one of astounding humility (Phil. 2:5-12). His death was worse than that of the worst criminal. And all of it was so that His resurrection would be that much more a demonstration of His power and Messiahship. The miracles were mere previews of what was to come. Before He would be exalted, He would be deeply humiliated.
Jesus didn’t come to be exalted as a miracle worker who cured people’s physical needs. He came to be exalted as the Resurrected Messiah who cured people’s deepest spiritual need.
Hope that helps.