Why didn't Jesus want people to tell others of the miracles He performed?
A miracle is a direct act of God in a human situation. In the Bible, miracles were usually performed through or announced by a person. The purpose of miracles was to identify such people as servants and prophets of God. Ideally, people would understand that if God chose to work through an individual, He would also choose to speak through that individual. Although God did occasionally use miracles to help someone personally, they were usually used as an introduction to a message.
Jesus' miracles follow this pattern. Acts 2:22 says, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst…" God attested or witnessed to Jesus through the miracles that Jesus performed. The point of the miracles wasn't the miracles; it was to direct people to listen to what Jesus had to say.
In the course of His ministry, however, Jesus did use miracles simply because He had compassion on people (Matthew 14:14). But physical healing is always a temporary matter. Knowing the truth of the gospel has eternal consequences. The teaching was always the point (Mark 6:34).
Unfortunately, sometimes the miracles got in the way of the teaching. Such was the case when He healed the leper who told so many people Jesus couldn't even teach in town anymore (Mark 1:40-45).
This was not a universal situation. Often, Jesus did tell the healed to spread the word (Mark 5:19-20). It depended on the situation. If the broadcast of the miracle would draw people in to hear His teaching, all to the good. If the broadcast of the miracle merely brought others who wanted a miracle without the life-changing salvation of God, it was useless (Mark 8:36).
Humans are shallow creatures who often choose the immediate good over the eternal great. While a few individuals called on Jesus specifically to hear His teaching (John 3:1-2), mobs came to Him seeking healing (Mark 6:54-56). Some stayed to hear His teaching (Mark 6:34). But the vast majority who heard of Jesus' miracles betrayed Him in the end because He didn't perform the one miracle they wanted—independence from Roman rule (Luke 23:18-25).
This situation has direct application to us today. Many ministries feed on stories of the miraculous. Accounts of healing, wealth, and deliverance draw people to the door. But all the healing in the world is useless if the people refuse to listen to how they can be spiritually healed for eternity. When we experience miracles in our own lives, we must be careful. Sometimes telling others will encourage them to find out the truth about Jesus for themselves. But sometimes it will lead to bitterness when God doesn't give them exactly what they want. We need to have the wisdom of Jesus to know the difference.
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