Reading the Gospel of Mark—What Matters Most
Jesus clearly healed people. When confronted with human need, the Gospel of Mark bears witness to the fact that he responded in life-changing ways. However, except in the case of the Garasene Demoniac and the paralytic, he insists that people not tell anybody about these healings. He tells the leper “to say nothing to anyone.” He “strictly ordered” those who witnessed him raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead “that no one should know this.” He ordered those who brought him a deaf man “to tell no one” after he opened his ears. He orders the blind man to lay low after Jesus opened his eyes.
Jesus undoubtedly healed people, but for what it’s worth many others throughout history have done so as well. It is not all that unusual. So why all the secrecy? In the end, for Jesus healing people is secondary—and potentially—distracting from the main event. For Jesus, the main event is all about putting our trust in God and engaging in the painstaking work of loving the neighbor. The main event is serving others. The main event is breaking down the barriers that divide people. Jesus wants people to see that God works through people who respond to human need with acts of compassion and mercy. The problem with extraordinary healings is that they often distract us from the ordinary way of discipleship.
Jesus knows that God’s way of saving the world takes long suffering steadfast love and is often frustrating. An over reliance on a God who miraculously touches down from time to time tempts us to think we can avoid the daily challenges that come with faithful living. Indeed the truly miraculous event is a life lived in obedience to Jesus’ way in spite of the inevitable ups and downs.