When the disciples heard Jesus say, “Do not tell anyone what you know,” they must have been surprised. Over and over again, they saw Jesus teach and perform awe-inspiring miracles. Over and over again, they saw crowds of people hanging on his every word. Surely the people already knew that Jesus was a great teacher, a prophet, and a miracle worker. Now that he had plainly told his apostles who he was, it only made sense that they would tell everyone else the good news. But Jesus told them to remain quiet. So once again we are confronted with an awkward truth: when it comes to Jesus, we have to learn how to think differently about almost everything.
Jesus sounded his warning because he knew that the people would want to make him their king. In fact, John’s Gospel tells us that this is exactly what happened after the multiplication of the loaves. But John also tells us that Jesus was quick to withdraw to the mountains because he knew that an earthly kingship was not what his Father wanted for him (6:15). Of course, Jesus is our King. But his kingdom is not based on miracles, parables, or the homage of excited crowds. He didn’t “earn” his crown by performing signs and wonders and by speaking prophetic words. No, that happened only when he died on a cross. It was his death, not his miracles that brought life to the world. Jesus didn’t want anything to get in the way of his mission, not even the admiration of the very people he had come to save and he was determined to stay faithful to that calling.
May we all pray for the humility and the resolve to be like Jesus. May nothing distract us from the call to “be merciful” as our heavenly Father is merciful (Luke 6:36).