First Things First
Reading: Mark 4, 5
It caught my attention this morning how often Jesus told people not to talk about the miracles He had performed for them. The book of Mark is the shortest of the Gospels and the writer squeezes a lot of the highlights of Jesus’ earthly ministry into relatively few chapters, making the journey a particularly intense one. The shortness of the book makes the Lord’s instructions not to talk about His miracles that much more pronounced.
Of course, He didn’t want the demons He cast out of people (Mark 3:12) to talk about Him—who needs that kind of publicity? When the miracles were public there wasn’t much He could do about the crowds reaction. His fame became so great that He had difficulty getting into the towns without attracting a huge following (Mark 1:45; 3:7-8). Where He could, He asked those who benefitted from His miracles to limit who they spoke to about them (Mark 1:43-44; 5:19, 20, 43).
I asked myself why Jesus didn’t want His miracles to be broadcast far and wide. Wouldn’t that attract a much bigger audience, give Him a much broader platform from which to speak?
The clue might be found in Mark 1:36-38 (NIV).
“Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’”
Daniel Henderson, author of Transforming Prayer, often talks about the need to seek God’s face before we seek God’s hand. As much as the miracles that Jesus did drew a crowd to Him, and provided Him with the opportunity to share the good news with more people, He also knew that the vast majority would come to Him, not to hear the message, but to receive the miracle. The miracles might prolong physical life, but it was only through the message that eternal life would come. The message was the priority.
I also find it interesting that Jesus even made the message a challenge for people to understanding, often speaking in parables so that only the most spiritually hungry would persist in seeking Him (Mark 4:11, 12). Even the disciples had a hard time understanding!
It’s so easy to get sidetracked, to overlook the best when the good is more spectacular, to ask God to show His hand when what we really need is to see His heart.
Today I know I will look for His hand. But I pray that before I do that I will ask Him to show me His face.