So my friend Josh gave me permission to repost this as a blog entry. He posted this as a myspace bulletin earlier today. He received the following question from one of his students: (my words are all in purple, so as to avoid confusion)
I finished Mark and now am in Luke, now my question is, why does Jesus do miracles, but afterwards say not to tell anyone what He has done? Also, why when He casts out demons, why does He tell them to be quiet and not say who He is? But why would He say to be quiet and not say what He has done or who He is, wouldn’t He want people to know?
I remember that we briefly touched on this in our “Disappointment With God” sphere earlier this year. I thought Josh brought up some excellent points in response, which I’ve posted below.
Glad to see that you’re really digging into the Gospels! Also, these are some great questions. I’m going to be reading up on some real answers for them, but until I get that done, here’s my first perspective on it (and remember, this is just my own uneducated opinion;) There were a number of other alleged miracle workers around the same time as Christ. They gained a following and they start mini-revolts that were soon suppressed. Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t come to start a physical revolution – that wasn’t his goal. He was here to lay a foundation for a revolution to happen. Let’s face it, Jesus could have come down here and wowed people with all of his powers, but He didn’t. He kept His powers in reserve. This makes me believe a couple things about his miracles (I actually prefer the word ‘signs’ to ‘miracles’):
1) Jesus’ miracles were a declaration of who He is, but they weren’t intended to gain a following. Every time Jesus started gaining a following, He purposefully scared them away with His teachings. For instance, it says that at one point that 5000 people were following Him (probably shortly after the ‘feeding of the 5000’) and that he then told them that they would have to ‘eat of His flesh’ and ‘drink of His blood.’ That freaked most of them out and they bolted. In fact, Jesus then turns to His disciples and says, “are you all that is left?” This ties into my opinion about the foundation Jesus was trying to create. It’s easy to impress people when you can stop the sun – but Jesus wants people who are dedicated to His TEACHINGS not His SIGNS.
2) I like calling the miracles ‘signs’ because I think that’s really what they were. Jesus could have come down and healed every single person in the world – but He didn’t. Why? My guess is that He simply did signs as a sign, or verification, of who He is. It’s kind of like Jesus’ ID or fingerprint. He would do a sign and then teach. The signs got people to listen to what He was saying. In addition, I think that He did some of His signs just to illustrate a point. Scholars debate on this, but it seems that many of Jesus’ signs reflected miracles that were done by great leaders in the Old Testament.
It’s almost as if Jesus is saying: I have the same power (and more) as these men who you consider so amazing! Those are two of the big reasons why I think He actually did these signs. In concern to asking people not to talk about it, word spread anyway, didn’t it? He asks the blind man not to talk and the guy goes and tells everyone He knows. I think that Jesus wanted silence because (in His words) His time had not yet come. It wasn’t the right time to reveal who He was. I think that time was the resurrection. I think that His raising from the dead was Jesus’ declaration to the world that He was more than just a ‘miracle worker,’ He was the Son of God. Previous to that declaration, He didn’t want anything interfering with the Foundation that He was building. So, to sum up:
- Jesus used His three years of ministry as a time to build a foundation for the Kingdom that was coming.
- Signs were used to illustrate points and get peoples attention, not to build a revolution.
- The one sign He broadcasted (and told everybody else to talk about) was His resurrection. This was His declaration of revolution.
Anyway, might not answer your question – but hope that it gets you to think 😉 And maybe I gave you way more than you expected…who knows!
I think Josh did a great job of responding, but I just wanted to see if anybody else had anything to add.
I ultimately can’t circumvent the fact that Jesus Himself said that a “wicked and perverse generation” asks for signs, and that no sign will be given except the “sign of Jonah,” which is a prophetic reference to His death and resurrection.
Eugene Peterson’s “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places” has an excellent section on the topic of signs. The whole book is stinkin’ amazing, actually.
Anyway just wanted to see if you guys had any additional thoughts. Please share:)