Mark’s Miracles Mystery

Have you ever experienced something good from God that answered your every prayer .. and then was told to keep it a secret? I think that’d drive me crazy. But often times, that’s exactly what Jesus did.

In the Gospel of Mark, we see quite a few times that Jesus told people to not mention the great things He had done. Here’s Mark’s take on miracle testimonials:

  •  demons are not allowed to testify, even though their testimony is true:
    [+]And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”  (Mark 1:23-25) .. [+]And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.   (Mark 1:34) see also Mk 3:12, Luke 4:41
  • Cured people are not allowed to testify:
    [+]and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”  (Mark 1:44)
  • Parents of resurrected daughters aren’t allowed to testify:
    [+]And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.   (Mark 5:43)
  • An ex-deaf man disobeys Jesus and puts his newfound talent to (mis?)use:
    [+]And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.  (Mark 7:35-36)
  • An ex-blind man is told to avoid the crowds (ostensibly so he wouldn’t testify):
    [+]Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”   (Mark 8:25-26)
  • Confessing disciples aren’t allowed to testify:
    [+]And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.   (Mark 8:29-30)
  • Transfiguration witnesses are prohibited from telling:
    [+]And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.  (Mark 9:9-10)
  • Let’s pause and reflect on this next one for a sec. It appears Jesus didn’t care for people having heard a testimony about Him:
    [+]And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”  (Mark 1:36-38) In other words… when people heard about Him, rather than go to the crowds that were looking for Him, He preferred to go to another city where, apparently, they hadn’t heard about Him.
  • But get this: an ex-demoniac, disciple wannabe (4 chapters earlier) is *commanded* to testify:
    [+]As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  (Mark 5:18-19)

Trying to wrap all this up is proving a bit interesting.

  • What would account for why Jesus would prohibit demons from testifying about Him? (Apparently He had no use for people/demons of ill repute testifying on His behalf, even if what they were saying was 100% true)
  • Why would He prohibit the majority of people (even His own disciples) from testifying about Him?
  • Why would He make an exception for the one ex-demoniac?
  • Why would He avoid crowds that were looking for Him? (And if He wanted to avoid crowds, why go to other cities only to generate new crowds?)
  • Why prohibit news of the transfiguration till after His resurrection?
  • Were all other gag-orders revoked after His resurrection? (Having thought about this for all of 20 seconds, I know of no place in the Bible where the other gag-orders are revoked! We might want to think about that for a bit.)
  • If these gag-orders aren’t revoked, should we be telling everybody and their brother about the miracles Jesus did?
  • Or should we just stick to preaching to the masses what He preached to the masses (Thankfully, Mark records this for us: [+] “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”   Mark 1:15)

I think it’s pretty easy to see that wildfire news of His miracles trumped news of His Gospel proclamation, and He didn’t want these miracles to get in the way of His message. And when they did, He moved on.

We might not do miracles these days, but what about our good works?

Does our feeding the hungry / clothing the poor / healing the sick / etc / get in the way of our Gospel proclamation?

When people flock to us for this/that/theother good thing, should we, like Jesus, move on and look for people more interested in the Gospel than goodness?

And we should note that this is a pretty major theme running throughout Mark’s gospel. Almost every miracle comes with these strings attached. So.. why is no one preaching about this?

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