Mark 7:36 Why ordered to keep healing secret? Why disobey? Why no explanation?


Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 7:31-37, “The Healing of a Deaf Man”:

31 Again he left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis.
32 And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him.
33 He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue;
34 then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
35 And [immediately] the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.
36 He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.
37 They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and [the] mute speak.”

Why did Jesus order them not to tell anyone? Since he knew they would disobey, why did He order it anyway (and repeatedly)? Why didn’t He say something different? Why is there no explanation in the Bible for this attempt at secrecy?


That is a great question. The only answer I can remember hearing is that Jesus did not want people following him solely based on his reputation as a miracle man. He also, did not want to be known as the bread king just because of the miracle of the loaves.

I think Jesus wanted people to follow him for spiritual reasons, not because he could provide for their physical needs and be some kind of king of this world for them.


The point being raised and discussed is known as the messianic secret, which we see frequently in the Gospel of Saint Mark.

Saint Pope John Paul II explained it best in an Audience of January 13, 1988:

Besides, it can be said that the resurrection from the dead, although enunciated and announced, was at the summit of the messianic secret. Jesus wished to maintain secrecy throughout the entire course of his life and mission, until the moment of the final fulfillment and revelation which were verified precisely with the “miracle of miracles,” the resurrection, which, according to St. Paul, is the foundation of our faith (cf. 1 Cor 15:12–19).


Right. Everywhere in Mark when Jesus heals people, he tells the people to keep it a secret, which they can never do. Part of the reason, I guess, why Jesus tells them to keep it a secret seems to be the idea that He knows that they don’t understand Who He is, and what His Mission is. In other words, crowds follow Jesus not because they believe that He is God the Son - but because they see Him either (a) as a miracle worker, (b) a wandering preacher, © a conquering Messiah who will overthrow the Romans, and maybe as (d) a prophet. Even the Twelve (even including Peter’s confession of Jesus as Christ) don’t really understand His Mission - even though they’ve given up everything to follow Him.

Notice, after the people that Jesus healed publicize their healings, Jesus is forced further and further into the wilderness to be able to have quiet time to pray. Wherever He goes, He has to stay outside of the town. There are even times when Jesus has to hide from the crowds because they want to make Him an earthly king.


I would imagine that He knew full well that this was a command that could not be kept.

Imagine the cripple in Bethesda. He’d spent years lying helpless in that place, now he was walking around in full possession of his limbs. Don’t you think five minutes later, those who knew him would be demanding the full story of his healing?

Or the one of ten lepers. When he showed up in his old life with clear skin, everybody would DEMAND to know what had happened.

Or the fellow whose roof was demolished to make way for a cripple, who then walked. Word gets around!

I think that although He always knew how word of His activities would get around, He did not want to be **preached **as a wonder-worker. He wanted people to come to Him in faith.



In short, the Jews were looking for a messiah that was a warrior/king/political leader who would rise up and kick out the Romans. Jesus did not want to be a secular king (which, in possible relation, was one thing with which Satan tempted Him whilr in the desert).


Yes, this last part is how I have heard it explained on EWTN. But the reason He was forced into the wilderness was because the Pharisees were trying to kill Him. So the reason He did not want people to tell about the healings was because He knew that the Pharisees would only become jealous of Him, which of course they did come to be, insanely jealous, and persecute Him and try to kill Him before His time. Remember, they had also wanted to kill Lazarus after Jesus raised him.

Healings are really first and foremost for those who already believe. You even see it today. There are all these documented miracles, and all atheists want to do is pretend there’s no such thing, and they stretch all reason trying to deny there are miracles, or deny that they come from God. It’s not because there isn’t any evidence, it’s because they do not really want to believe. Just like the Pharisees.


That he could heal was a sign he was the Messiah. I thought that after the deaf man’s proclamation, Jesus could not go about his work as publicly, since it was not yet his time (to die).


Two thousand years later we are asked to have faith without proof. Jesus wanted people to have faith rather than proof, once there was too much proof that Jesus healed, then he had to go to a place that he was a stranger.

Just my thoughts.


In another place in the gospels it says that he had a difficult time entering a town because his noteriety had preceeded him. So in order to reduce the number so that he could preach to them, he asked that he not tell of his miracle.

In another place in the gospels it says that he had people from different parts of the land comming to him…from all over the country. He started as preaching and healing in the synogogues, but then toward the end of his life there were so many that came to him that he was preaching from a boat a few yards from shore. Can you imagine what you would have done to see him and to touch him or be cured? It must have been quite a sight to see so many people from all over wanting to be healed. And the gospels never said he refused anyone except in his own home town where they didn’t believe in him.

Jesus may also had in mind to go to this man’s home town, and thru his kindness, he simply didn’t want the people there to do all that travelling when he was going there anyway. This is reminisent of the time he felt sorry for the crowd of 5000 when they had no food and fed them.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.


Another thing in Mark is that the demons he casts out of people always know that his is God.


From the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Gospel of Mark:

**1:44  say nothing to anyone:** The “messianic secret” is a leading theme in Mark. Jesus frequently enjoins silence on demons (1:25, 34; 3:12) and men (5:43; 7:36; 8:30; 9:9) to conceal his identity as the Messiah (**CCC 439**). Several considerations account for this strategy. (1) Jesus wanted to avoid a sensationalistic reputation of being no more than a wonder-worker. Publicizing his deeds by word of mouth comes with the danger that rumors will begin to disconnect his miracles from his saving message. (2) He wanted to sidestep popular expectations that the Messiah would be a political and military leader. (3) He did not wish to ignite the wrath of his enemies before the appointed time of his Passion...

And from the Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew:

**Matthew 9:30: **Why did our Lord not want them to publicize the miracle? Because His plan was to gradually manifest Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God. He did not want to anticipate events which would occur in their own good time; nor did He want the crowd to start hailing Him as Messiah King, because their notion of messiah was nationalistic, not a spiritual one. However, the crowd did in fact proclaim Him when he worked the miracles of the loaves and the fish (John 6:14-15): “When the people saw the sign which He had done, they said, `This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!’ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by Himself.”


If this is true, then where is the historical record? In what other history books is this written? If nowhere other than the Bible, why not?


Lets look at other valid possibilities by “zooming out” a bit re our assumptions of who said what in Mark…

Is it impossible that the writer is actually applying some structure/asides/voice-over into the Gospel he wrote in order to enlighten more explicitly the readers of his time as to what the hidden meaning of the events were?

In modern books and movies we see this editorial licence happening all the time.
There is ominous music telling us what we have just seen is linked to upcoming danger. The author of a book written mostly from the voice of the characters concerned may suddenly has reflections from the writer in the third person ("little did he know that…).

It is acceptable to say this happens in the Gospels too - in order to teach the reader the spiritual meaning of things that were not actually understood at the time of the events recounted.

Did the demons really shout out publicly that Jesus was divine…how is it nobody seems to hear? The reason may well be it is a literary device inserted by the writer to teach the reader. This was not actually understood by the disciples at the time, only after the Resurrection.

The “Messianic Secret” of Mark that others have referred to below asserts this liklihood.
You don’t have to accept this insight of more recent Scholarship - but many Catholic scholars do. It is currently an acceptable Catholic position.

It was taken for granted when I attended a relatively conservative Cath Theol University in the 1970s as a layman sitting along side Seminarians and young priests while pursuing the equiv of a M.Theol


Really? Where? Searching online I can find very few, and all non-verifiable.


What do you mean by “verifiable” ?

There is always a way to look at things in such a way that you don’t have to believe it if you are not inclined to do so. This is why some people do not believe in global warming, the Holocaust, etc. And of course this is why the Pharisees watched Jesus perform miracles before their very eyes and STILL did not believe.

But there is sufficient proof of various miracles for those who are rational. Here’s a video and a link re the Lourdes miracles to get you started. Every saint has 2 miracles verified by the Vatican, so there are many documented miracles on file there. Sorry I don’t have a link for that, but I’m getting you started so if you’re interested you can look for that yourself. :slight_smile: Good luck!

Miracle Woman

Cures and Miracles at Lourdes (so far)


First of all, the only secular writings I know of concerning 1st century Judea are by Josephus Flavius - who fought on both sides of the Jewish war (first on the Jewish side, then, when captured, for the Romans).

Yet, even in his book Antiquities, Josephus barely mentions Jesus (especially if you cut out the part which is obviously a later Christian addition). During Jesus’s time, there were many people purporting to be the Messiah, many folk healers, etc. What separated Jesus from all of them is that He rose from the dead. Yet the only witnesses of His resurrection were His disciples (first the women and then the Eleven - followed by the disciples on their way to Emmaus). The tomb was found empty, but those who did not believe in Jesus pretty much figured that Jesus’s disciples merely stole the body while the guards were sleeping (this is stated in the Gospel according to Matthew).

As such, the only real written records we have at all about Jesus are the Gospels - and the fact that, to punish the Jewish Christians, the Romans built a pagan temple on the spot where Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection took place (they had the crucifixion records from Pontius Pilate about who he crucified when and where). Today, that is the sight of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the most historically significant Christian church building in the world (the holiest place in the world, though, is any place Mass is being offered).


Could you clarify what type of historical record you’d credit?
Are you after records of Jesus miraculous healings? If so, then the Bible IS a collection of historical records. Keep in mind the Bible is a collection of separately written records. So for certain their are 4 historical records of Jesus’ miracles - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In addition, there are references in some of the epistles.

Miraculous events (healings and others) have always gone on. They’re happening today, but they’re not likely to show up in national documents or historical records if that is the sort of “historical record” you think is necessary to verify the truth of religious/spiritual events.

What “historical record/s” would you consider more reliable (in regard to Jesus’ life and acts - including miracles) than the records of those who witnessed the events?


You must not have tried very hard. Only took a few seconds to find this one and that’s just miracles connected with Lourdes.

It is very difficult to have something officially declared a miracle by the Church.


Well, I’m a firm believer that while there is evidence, human nature is such that almost any amount of evidence can be rationalized away if one simply does not want to believe something.

Maybe for the honest seeker to have more to go on he could look at it from more than one perspective. Instead of solely looking for written evidence, which might or might not have survived the centuries of time, he could also take a broader view. Pan back a bit and look at a slightly bigger picture and how other subsequent events might implicitly corroborate or contradict the resurrection theory. Dinesh D’Souza gets us started on this method of looking at it in about one minute here:

Where’s The Body?

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