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From the editor: "Tell no man" (Mark 7.36)

J Grant

To the reader of Mark’s Gospel the character of the book is immediately obvious. The introduction, the pace of the narrative, and the language used all point to this book being an account of the work of the Servant of Jehovah. It is believed that Mark received most of his facts from Peter and there is sufficient internal evidence to substantiate that claim. With that in mind, the words of Peter in the house of Cornelius, that "Jesus of Nazareth…went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10.38) can be regarded as a summary of Mark’s account.

There are eighteen miracles recorded by Mark. They commence with the healing of the man with the unclean spirit in the synagogue in Capernaum (1.23-26) and conclude with the cursing of the fig tree as the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem on the second of the three days on which He did so prior to His arrest and trial (11.12-14). In addition, there were occasions when it is recorded that the He healed a number of people (1.33-34; 3.10; 6.5).

These events must have caused great interest. True, there had been miracles wrought in the past on a few occasions, for instance by Elijah and Elisha, but never had Israel known the presence of One who could control disease, not once but often, have the wind and waves obey Him, and feed thousands from "inadequate" resources. This showed Him to be unique!

The nature of the human heart being what it is, if any other were given just a small allotment of such power there would surely be the urge to have these incidents widely reported. Even if fame was not the motive, one would think that it would not be refused. The remarkable fact about this Man is that He did not seek such fame. Where it was possible He asked that those who had been blessed should not make it known (1.44; 3.12; 5.43; 7.36; 8.26). Even after the glory seen on the Holy Mount (9.2-10; 2 Pet 1.16-18) "he charged them that they should tell no man" (9.9). In so doing He fulfilled the words of Isaiah: "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street" (42.2). In all His labours He fulfilled the prophecies which spoke of Him. He never fell short of the high standards of holiness and behaviour that been foretold of Him.

But there are vital lessons for those who are His today. We also should seek to be submissive to the Word of God. If we serve with a view to self-promotion, to become well known and a spiritual "celebrity", it would be better that we cease serving until we come to know the better way. Any sacrifice made, no matter how great, is valueless to the Lord if the motive behind it is the enhancement of our own reputation. In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus spoke of this spirit. Those who gave alms publicly, those who prayed publicly in the synagogues and in the streets, and those who displayed a cheerless countenance as they fasted are all examples of this sad attitude (Mt 6.1-18).

There are, however, many dear saints who follow the Lord and "tell no man". This will mean that news of their service might never get out, although that is of little interest to them. Sometimes those who have been helped, such as the cleansed leper (Mk 1.40-45), will describe their experience, and sometimes others who know of an act being done for someone else will let it be known, as they did after the healing of the deaf man (Mk 7.31-37). Those who have carried out the deed, however, do not advertise what they are doing.

Let those who serve the Lord by giving, by encouraging, by visitation, by vital background assembly work, or in countless other ways, and do so quietly, take heart. In so acting you are doing what Paul encourages the Thessalonians to do, that is, "to please God", and may you follow his further exhortation to "abound more and more" (1 Thess 4.1).

Let us seek to serve the Lord who acted with such humility, display the same spirit, and show that pleasing Him and not promoting self is the object of all our service. In the final analysis this is all that matters. The praise of men and women is but chaff in the wind. The praise of God and the reward that comes from His smile on our work is never lost.


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