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Ask a Pastor: Was it a Sin for People to Tell Others that Jesus Healed Them?

Question

When Jesus healed people and raised them from the dead, He tells most of the people to tell no man, but still some/most do tell. Is that an act of disobedience?

Answer

That’s a good question. The short answer is yes, it is an act of disobedience. Here’s why: any act done by people that does not follow or submit to the orders of a person or organization with authority over them is, by definition, disobedience. Even if that act is well-intended or ends up ultimately benefiting the person or organization in authority, it’s still disobedience. So people who told others that Jesus had healed them, when Jesus had commanded them not to tell anyone, were disobeying. They were not following or submitting to the orders of Jesus who – both as God and as their Healer - had authority over them. True, their telling others, from a human standpoint, was understandable in their joy and excitement. But it was still an act of disobedience. And it was sinful disobedience because it was disobedience against God the Son.

But perhaps the deeper question behind your question is this: Why did Jesus command them to be silent about His healing them? That seems kind of strange, especially since later on He tells His disciples to tell everyone about Him. Well, there are a few general things we can say.

First, the Lord Jesus says in Mark 1:38 – when His disciples find Him praying alone after healing many people and tell Him that everyone’s looking for Him – He says that the purpose of His coming was to preach (see also Luke 4:18, 42-43) Right after that He heals a leper, and then tells him not to tell anyone. Why? Well, part of the reason certainly is because He didn’t come primarily to heal people of their physical disease. He came to preach the gospel – the good news of salvation from sin. He came to bring spiritual healing – because that’s the root problem. If the leper went out and told people that Jesus had healed him, then even more people would come to Jesus – not to hear Him preach, but to see Him heal. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened with the leper because he did tell others. He disobeyed Jesus. Mark 1:45 says that “Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.” Jesus didn’t want His healings widely known because people seeking Him for His miracles instead of His gospel Word would distract from and hinder His primary purpose of preaching.

Second, His healing work led many people to wonder if He was the promised Messiah (see Matthew 12:22-23). That would have been fine – except the Messiah most people were looking for was a political Savior who overthrow Rome. Once, when He multiplied the loaves, they actually tried to make Him an earthly King by force (John 6:14-15)! So part of the reason He didn’t want His healing work published was also because people just didn’t understand what it was He really came to do as the Messiah – namely, to save His people from their sins, by suffering and dying on the cross.

What practical lessons can we learn from all this? Well, for one, don’t get sucked in by supposedly Christian organizations/churches/people who focus on things like physical healing. God can and sometimes does heal people today, but that must never be the focus of gospel ministry, because even Jesus didn’t want it to be the focus. The focus should be the preaching of the gospel of salvation from sin. Another lesson is that we should obey Jesus, including His command today not to keep silent about Him, but to tell others everywhere about Him. We need that reminder! Third, we must serve God not according to what we think is best, but according to His Word – even if we don’t fully understand why. That’s true obedience.

Great question, and hopefully this helped answer it for you!

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