I know the title may seem strange, especially coming from a person who encourages people to talk to others about Jesus and trains them how to do it. Let me be clear, the restrictions on who can teach others about Christ are not my own opinions. These restrictions are set in place by God. I want to look at three different occasions when Jesus told people not to tell others important truths about Himself, discovering why, and then learning who is able to teach others.
I. Certain people who were healed by Jesus and the witnesses of the healing
At first glance, the passages seem odd because Jesus seems not to want His fame to spread. Why does He not want them to tell others? Let’s discover the reason why because God’s Word always gives us the why.
In verse 36, Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about what happened. The more He told them not to tell others, the more they ended up telling others and word spread about His healing abilities. In the Gospels, we see a common theme occurring. Jesus would perform a miracle to get the people’s attention and then immediately preach and teach the Gospel. This was a pattern for His ministry. The emphasis was never on the miracle and always on the teaching that followed the miracle. It seems that the witnesses in Mark 7 were more interested in His healing powers than in His message. They were much more willing to share the healing than they were the actual message of the Gospel. Jesus wanted them to keep their priorities straight, understanding their need for the spiritual much more than their need for the physical.
Jesus heals again and then tells the people not to share what happened. They leave and begin to tell everyone about what He had done. Again, the message of the Gospel seems to be placed on the back burner and the healing powers that He has are what people talk about and want to experience. Their physical healing seems to outweigh their spiritual need for healing. The message of the Gospel is there yet they do not give it much thought because of the physical healing that dominates the scene. Again, Jesus just used the physical healing as a conduit to open the door to spiritual teaching, which everyone needs far more than physical necessities.
This passage explains the problem in more detail. The people were coming to Jesus for physical healing and do not seem to be interested in the spiritual things that Jesus had to say. It reminds me of John 6, after Jesus fed the 5,000, large crowds were following Him, presumably waiting for their next meal. What happens when you start to feed the animals in your yard? They keep coming back, not because they care so much for you, but because you are filling their bellies. These people in John 6 were the same way. Jesus knew their hearts and as He began to teach, He gave them some pretty hard teachings. In fact, they were so radical that most of the people who were following Him turned and walked away. They were not as interested in spiritual things as they were in physical things (having their bellies filled).
This is why Jesus forbids the people who were healed and the witnesses from telling others. It is because they were not going to present the spiritual aspect of what Jesus was trying to do. They were going to present His healing powers and those who would come, would come with impure motives, not really wanting the spiritual teachings that Jesus had to offer and instead, coming to have their physical needs met. People who are not going to emphasize the Gospel when sharing about Jesus are not allowed to share because some other phenomenon gets front and center stage and the spiritual teachings which determine a person’s eternity are left on the back burner for the temporal things.
II. Evil spirits or people filled with evil spirits
There is a certain standard that must be met for people to be able to share about Christ. Jesus does not want those who live like the devil sharing about Him, even if they are sharing pure Truth about Him. He forbids it. Let’s see why.
The unclean spirits were in the people. When they saw Jesus, they would fall down and begin to shout pure Truth, that Jesus is the Son of God, something that most of the people who claimed to follow God during those times did not believe. The demons believed and feared, just as James teaches us. Jesus forbids the demon possessed to share the Truth about Him. Why does He do that? Let’s take a look in Acts 16 and find out why Jesus would not want a person who is living like the devil to share about Him. The slave girl was practicing divination, a sin according to God in the Old Testament. She was preaching Truth, that Paul was proclaiming the message of the Most High God and the way of salvation but if the people heard this from her, they would then associate God and His people with divination and witch-craft. The message is true but the lifestyle is in direct contradiction with the message. A person living in open sin cannot teach others about Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, there are many who do. Jesus is not shocked. In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals that not everyone who calls Him Lord is His child. Not everyone who serves in His Name is His child. There will be many who say to Him on that day, Lord, did we not . . . and His response to them is “I never knew you. Leave Me”. The reason that He gives is 1) they did not do the will of the Father 2) they practiced sin openly.
In James 3, we see that not everyone can teach. It is not that we do not need teachers. That is one of the biggest holes in the church. We need tons of teachers but according to God’s standards, you have to qualify to teach. There are some things that can disqualify you. The biggest reason people cannot teach, according to James 3, is because they cannot bridle their tongues with the wisdom from above. You disqualify yourself and need to be removed until you lean how to bridle your tongue with the power of God.
Jesus forbids those whose lifestyles do not match up with the message from teaching others about Him.
III. The disciples
This is the transfiguration and Jesus warns His disciples not to say anything until He raises from the dead. Once He has been resurrected, they are to share with everyone. There were some things that had to happen according to the Scriptures and until they happened, the people did not need to know this Truth about Jesus. After the resurrection, they needed to know in order to help them believe.
An important truth about Christ is revealed here but is was not the right time to be shared because again, Scripture had to be fulfilled and then the people needed to know the information.
The disciples were told not to share at this moment, not because they were going to emphasize the wrong things and not because they were not living out the message. They were restricted just for a short time. Once Jesus resurrected, He gave His final orders to His disciples then and to His disciples all through the ages to come when He left the Great Commission:
19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28)
We are to tell everyone, of every gender, nation, language group etc. We are to teach them about Christ. We must make sure that the Gospel is front and center, that we are living according to the message that we are teaching, and that we are controlled by God as we do this, especially in the area of bridling our tongues.
May the Lord help us carry out His mission, to tell the world about His message and to make disciples out of those who are willing.