When Jesus walked the earth many people had a personal, life-altering encounter with him. They were big moments. He healed people and forgave people, his life colliding with theirs dramatically altered their future prospects and outlook on life.
Now was the moment for Jesus to leverage the moment and raise his profile, right? Now was the time for the Big Ask, to engage them to become evangelists, to go all out proclaiming his name to the community and beyond.
Emotions would be high, exhilaration and adrenaline pumping at epic levels. These people, in those moments, would gladly do anything Jesus asked of them . . . well, it seems all but one thing. It just so happens it was the one thing Jesus continually asked of them: Keep it to themselves. Don't go talking about Jesus to others.
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere. Mark 1:43-45
When Jesus touched someone's life and they became true believers through the experience, Jesus almost always insisted that the don't tell anyone about him. Yet, most of the time they ran off and started telling everyone about him.
Imagine that. Their first act, was one against Jesus' wishes! Even though they would have though: 'Of course I should tell others about Jesus. How could that be wrong? How could that be against what Jesus wanted?' It was such a no brainer, right? So the logic probably went something like this: Let's make this guy famous cause he's so awesome and he transformed my life. How could Jesus expect or ask for anything else? Well, he did. That's just the facts of the matter.
I used to think of this as Jesus being humble, and the person being so thankful that they couldn't help but tell others about Jesus - but now I am not so sure. It seems Jesus was being serious when he told them not to go around telling people about what he did in their individual life. The question is why?
Have you ever wondered why? Not to simply jump to the same conclusions as those in the story, and ignore Jesus' request because it make no sense to submit to it. It made sense to tell the whole world, right? I think it's helpful to us to go back and ask why? To think it through.
Here's a few answers I can speculate on:
I wonder if it was because all along Jesus knew the problem of people being quick to want to spread the news of him, thinking that was the ultimate goal, instead of realizing the ultimate goal was to allow the divine connection they had received to truly sink in, deep into the core of their spirit.
Perhaps it was because Jesus knew that the individual, through an intimate and personal encounter with Jesus, had a revelation, but they could only spread information. Two completely different things.
Perhaps Jesus was more interested in the individual allowing the revelation to sink deeper into themselves, instead of keeping it on the surface so they could quickly turn around and start telling others about it.
I think Jesus knew the most powerful people on the earth, are the ones who let his touch travel deep within them instead of spreading his name on the surface around them.
Perhaps Jesus knew that even with all these people running around, passionately spreading information about him, in the end only a handful of people would be at his cross in his hour of need.
Perhaps Jesus was not interested in people thinking of themselves like soldiers for Jesus' message, quick to lead talking armies into the cities of the world in the hope of creating a Jesus empire on earth, because, from Jesus' perspective, he desired to bring to an end the whole idea of empires.
Perhaps Jesus did not want them to tell others about him because he wanted them to be more than information sharers--he wanted his divine life to actually become one with theirs so that they could truly start to live, truly come alive; not by passing on information, but by outworking a life of love, a life of grace. A life that was one with Jesus, not centered on information they held in their heads, but founded in the revelation he originally placed in their hearts.
It seems Jesus is pretty good at making himself known. Maybe, as his followers, it's our job to make him known to our own hearts in deeper ways more than make him known on the surface to others?
Maybe the most diving form of evangelism, is evangelizing ourselves.
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