Tell No One

September 21, 2012

Excerpt from Mark 7:31-37

"They brought to Jesus a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him.  He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears… And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released and he spoke plainly.  Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one."

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver

Why did Jesus, after performing this marvelous miracle of healing, order the witnesses not to tell anyone about it?  Most of us, if we do something praiseworthy, are happy to let the world know, or, even better, to have others spread the word.  And if we say, "Don't tell anyone about this," usually it is in a circumstance when we have done something embarrassing or shameful. 

Throughout Mark's gospel, when Jesus performs a miracle, he gives similar instructions.  Why does he want to keep these miracles secret?  Why not shout out the good news?  Well, for one, Jesus probably did not want the people to be distracted by the spectacular.  The word miracle literally means "a sign that points to God."  But if people began to focus too much on the miracles Jesus performed, it might distract them from his message.

There may be another reason in this instance.  Perhaps Jesus wanted to make sure that the healed man got to tell his own story.  Formerly he could not speak in a way others could understand.  Now he gets to tell the news of what has happened to him.  It is his story to tell and now he can use his own tongue to tell it.  And then he can use that same tongue to praise God that his own life has become a miracle, a sign that points to God.

In what way is your life a miracle?

Prayer

Dear God, give me a tongue that can tell of your mercies toward me and that can offer you praise.  Amen.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

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