The Impossible Command

Anyone who has studied the gospels has often pondered a curious command Jesus frequently gave. An example can be seen in Mark 1. After cleansing a leper, Jesus said to the man, “See that you say nothing to anyone …” (Mark 1:44, NKJV). In the next verse we find that the man did not obey: “But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to him from every quarter” (Mark 1:45).
Jesus had done a marvelous thing for this man. He didn’t just give him back his health, but enabled him to return to life among his family and friends. Jesus charged no fee for his services other than one simple request: Say nothing to anyone. But the former leper couldn’t comply. Could we have done better?
The same command is given in Mark 5 in an even more amazing setting. A young daughter of Jairus, ruler of the synagogue, was gravely ill. By the time Jesus arrived, the girl was dead. Those gathered at Jairus’ house laughed at Jesus’ assertion that the girl was asleep — they knew for a fact that she was dead. Jesus, however, with his powerful word raised the girl to life. In the electric atmosphere of the moment, Jesus “commanded them strictly that no one should know it” (Mark 5:43). Mark doesn’t say whether they remained silent about this miracle, but we can’t help but believe they didn’t.
Consider one more example in Mark 7. A man brought to Jesus was afflicted with deafness and a speech impediment. Again Jesus’ power to heal was demonstrated, and the man could afterward hear and speak perfectly. Following the healing, Jesus “commanded them that they should tell no one, but the more he commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it” (Mark 7:36).
It’s puzzling: Why would Jesus tell people who had been marvelously healed of major diseases not to say anything about the miracle? No one, it seems, obeyed his command. Why did he even bother?
One answer that seems likely is that Jesus wanted to show how impossible it is, under normal circumstances, to remain silent when something wonderful has happened. If we win the national sweepstakes, we won’t keep quiet about it. If a loved one is dramatically healed of a deadly disease, we’ll tell everyone about the doctors and staff that worked so hard. It’s nigh near impossible to be quiet when you’ve experienced some exceptionally good news.
Today, Jesus doesn’t issue such a command. Instead he tells us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Suddenly those whose lives have been blessed by the Lord have developed lock-jaw. When we ought to be shouting from the roof tops, we instead can’t be forced to speak.
The psalmist long ago wrote words we need to hear: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (Psalm 107:1,2).
Have we been redeemed? Do we consider that redemption a great blessing? Then why haven’t we said so?!

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