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Christ's Command Not to Tell

The June 2013 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" contained this article by Prof.Herman Hanko, answering a question about why Jesus commanded certain people he healed not to tell others about the miracle. You may also read this article on the CPRC website.

Christ’s Command Not to Tell

A reader from Uganda writes, “A friend asked me, Why did Christ always tell those whom He healed not to tell anyone who healed them, yet we are commanded to testify about Him? Could you please explain?”

This is an interesting question for it brings up an important aspect of our Lord’s miracles of healing.

But it might be well, first of all (and this fact has some bearing on the answer to the question), to note that Jesus did not always command those whom He healed to be silent and tell no one what He had done for them. This was only true on some occasions.

The answer to this question has to do with the reason why the Lord performed miracles. The Lord did not perform miracles for the mere sake of performing them—as, for example, the Pentecostals do. The “miracles” of Pentecostals are mere “show case” miracles of no significance or value, done in an arbitrary and purposeless manner. The Lord did not perform miracles in this way. Probably the clearest instruction on why the Lord performed miracles is found in John 5. Jesus had healed a man at the pool of Bethesda. The man was lying in one of the porches, waiting to enter the water when an angel came to stir the water. (I might mention, in passing, that higher critics omit John 5:3b-4 from the Scriptures, and the NIV and other translations do the same. But this is a mistake. The textual evidence for its retention is strong, but it consists of manuscripts that higher critics wrongly denigrate.)

The man was unable to get into the water because of his paralysis, and others could get into the pool faster than he, and only the first one in the water was healed. There were many such people at the pool, but the Lord Jesus healed only one of them. That is striking.

The Jews charged the Lord with sin, because He had healed this man at Bethesda on the Sabbath. Christ’s defence of His actions is not only a justification for that miracle on that Sabbath but also an explanation of why He did all His miracles. It is a powerful explanation and worthy reading for all those who have no real understanding of the necessity of miracles.

Let me explain. The Lord came into the world to do the work of His Father, which was to accomplish salvation for all the elect whom God had chosen from eternity to be His church (Eph. 1:4). When Jesus testified that the (Old Testament) Scriptures witness of His divinity and the reason for His coming in our flesh, the Scriptures were not then complete, for the New Testament was not yet written. It was true then as it is true now: “The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” Or, perhaps more accurately, “The New is in the Old contained; the Old is in the New explained.”

The work of Christ and the gospel He preached could not be completely and clearly explained and tested by the people who heard Him because they had no complete Scriptures. And so miracles were necessary to substantiate the truths of the gospel that Christ preached.

Miracles witnessed to the truth of the gospel, because they were signs of that truth. All sicknesses and diseases are the result of sin, but each disease pointed to a specific result of sin. Blindness was a picture of our spiritual inability to see the kingdom of Christ (John 3:3; 9:39-41). Demon possession was a picture of the complete dominion of Satan in our lives. And so I could go on.

Healing all these illnesses were signs that accompanied the preaching of the Lord and illustrated the truth of the gospel. Christ came to deliver us from the power of Satan and heal all our diseases—spiritual and physical (Ps. 103:3). When the Scriptures were completed, the need for miracles also ceased. The Scriptures, now completed, testify of the truth of the gospel.

But just as the gospel is preached in the audience of elect and reprobate, so also miracles were performed on true people of God and on those who never believed. The miracle of the healing of the ten lepers, for example, showed that only one of the lepers returned to give glory to God—and he was a Samaritan. When Jesus fed the 5,000, while this was not a miracle of healing, it was a sign that Jesus is the true Bread of Life (John 6). But all were not elect by any means, for the majority, when Jesus refused to be an earthy king, forsook Him.

Many unbelieving people simply saw in Jesus a miracle worker and did not understand that He was the Son of God, sent into the world for the redemption of the church. Christ did not want unbelievers spreading abroad the miracle He had performed on them, for their description of the miracle would be totally concentrated on the miracle itself and not on the gospel of which the miracle was only a sign. Many disobeyed the Lord, as Scripture tells us, but that does not refute the point.

So the Pentecostals do the same. People come for the miracle itself and not at all for the gospel of salvation. They are like the nine ungrateful lepers.

We need miracles no longer, for we have the full Scriptures. And the Scriptures are sufficient. The rich man in hell wanted a miracle to convince his brothers of the reality of hell, but the words of Abraham are decisive for all time: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” Again, when the rich man contradicted Abraham, this testimony is repeated and enforced: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:30-31).    Prof. Hanko

Last modified on 08 July 2013
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Additional Info

  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 14
Hanko, Herman

Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)

Ordained: October 1955

Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965

Emeritus: 2001


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