Mark 1:42-45; Mark 3:12; Mark 7:36; Matthew 9:30-31; Luke 8:56
In Mark 1:42-45 Jesus tells the man healed of his leprosy to not tell anyone that He has healed him, only to “shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” It would seem logical that Jesus knew that the man had to be pronounced clean by the priest. This pronouncement would further the legitimacy of Jesus’ ministry.
On the other hand, it seems reasonable to assume that by talking to everyone about the miracle that Jesus performed, that this could hinder the work Jesus was focused on. This is exactly what happened, as we read that “he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter” (Mark 1:45).
In Mark chapter 7 we read, “he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it” (Mark 7:36).
I am reminded of the story in John 6, where many flock to Jesus not for His doctrine, but to have free food. He did come to feed us, but His work was primarily spiritual. We read that when the Jews wanted to make Him their king, that He left them to be alone (John 6:15). In essence, Jesus was trying to help the Jews (and us) realize where salvation lies. Salvation is in and through the blood of Jesus Christ (Mosiah 3:18). His miracles point our hearts to Him, but are not an end in themselves.
Perhaps in His request for these people to remain silent was a test of their allegiance and obedience. He gave those he healed a gift. Certainly they could return His gift with the gift of obedience to His request.
Are there times when teenagers need to obey the Savior for the sake of obeying – even if they don’t see all the angles? There are a multitude of circumstances where obedience is necessary, even when we do not have all the facts at our disposal. This could be an excellent springboard for a class discussion, provided the teacher is prepared with a few scenarios. Some might include:
1. Naaman is a classic example of this principle (2 Kings 5:1-14). Elisha didn’t explain why, he didn’t even communicate directly with Naaman, but rather sent a servant to tell Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan River.
2. Nephi’s brothers thought the idea of going back to Jerusalem to get the plates from Laban was unreasonable. They just left the city, now they were expected to return?
3. Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:2). The Lord offered no explanation for this. Not understanding why, he went to follow this command. We gain some insight into his thought processes when we read in Hebrews the following: “Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:17-19)
4. There are many examples in the lives of the saints when an individual followed a prompting from the Spirit when they did not know the reason (see for example, Go to the football field).
I appreciate the following commentary on this question given by Frederick Farrar:
There are some who have admired their disobedience, and have attributed it to the enthusiasm of gratitude and admiration. But was it not rather the enthusiasm of a blatant wonder, the vulgarity of a chattering boast? Did not the holy fire of devotion which a hallowed silence must have kept alive upon the altar of their hearts die away in the mere blaze of empty rumour? Did not He know best? Would not obedience have been better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams? Yes. It is possible to deceive ourselves; it is possible to offer to Christ a seeming service which disobeys His inmost precepts—to grieve Him, under the guise of honouring Him, by vain repetitions, and empty genuflexions, and bitter intolerance, and irreverent familiarity, and the hollow simulacrum of a dead devotion. Better, far better, to serve Him by doing the things He said than by a seeming zeal, often false in exact proportion to its obtrusiveness, for the glory of His name. These disobedient babblers, who talked so much of Him, did but offer Him the dishonouring service of a double heart; their violation of His commandment served only to hinder His usefulness, to trouble His spirit, and to precipitate His death. 1
We too should be willing to do anything God requires. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I made this my rule: when the Lord commands, do it.” 2
1. Frederick Farrar, The Life of Christ. London: Cassel & Co., Ltd., 1874. Ch. 25, 278.
2. History of the Church, 2:170.