Matthew 16:20. “Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ.”
Why would Jesus charge His disciples to tell no one Who He really was? There are some reasons offered in two of my sources that make a great deal of sense to me.
First, He was not ready to assert His claim as Messiah yet, knowing the controversy it would cause. He made no public claim of His true identity at first, but allowed the power of His works to both speak for Him and to fulfill prophecy.
Second,He wanted people to fulfill the law by offering the testimony that Moses commanded in Lev. 14:4, 10, and 21-22. The proof of cleansing from leprosy was considered a Messianic power, and should have convinced the priests that He was the Christ.
Third, He knew that the time was not right for Him to be proclaimed King. He was not seeking popularity and public acclaim. Such would have resulted in the clamour of the mob to elevate Him, creating utter confusion and confounding His real purpose. When this kind of acclaim did happen, He got away from it (John 6:15-21).
Fourth, Jesus set an example of putting healing to the test before testimony was given of it. Any real healing will stand any kind of test.
There was a man in our church years ago who developed leukemia. This was early in the days of treating that cancer successfully. He was very sick, and only in his 30’s or 40’s, I believe. He and his wife had planned his funeral. There seemed to be no hope at all.
Then the pastor and some of the deacons went to his hospital room, laid hands on him, and prayed for his healing. He was a main player in the growth of the church, and would be sorely missed. I’m not sure, but it seems I’ve heard he was also anointed with oil.
Now, I know that pastor and most of the men involved, and I know they loved God and believed He could heal. And He did! To the amazement of everyone, the man began to improve and is still alive today, in his early 90’s. The doctors were shocked, and the story is still a favorite among those who were part of the church back then.
God is not required to heal. We have no right to demand that He do so. But He CAN, and when it suits His purpose, He will. There was no doubt that the man’s healing was miraculous, no doubt that his illness had been the real thing. It was an incredible testimony to the doctors, nurses, and staff who treated him, as well as to the church family.
Jesus can still do today what He did during His ministry on earth. We need to pray more.