HomedotMagisReflectionsWhy Should No One Know About a Miracle?

Why Should No One Know About a Miracle?

The Life of Jesus Lenten Read-Along - book with author Andrea Tornielli

Why does Jesus demand people not tell when he heals them?

In chapter 11 of The Life of Jesus, Andrea Tornielli tells the stories of two miracles Jesus performed: the raising of Jairus’s daughter from the dead and the healing of two blind men. Both of these stories end with Jesus asking, demanding even, that no one involved tell anyone about what has happened. But these were miracles! These were proof that Jesus was not just a nice man but the Son of God!

So why does Jesus demand people not tell? Obviously, no one follows his order anyway.

It strikes me that back in those days when Jesus performed miracles and people wanted to spread the good news, they would have to run through the streets finding people to tell. I can imagine the family of the little girl dashing out of their home and stopping anyone they found on the street, imploring them to listen. I can almost hear them shouting as they pointed back toward their now living little girl: “Look at what Jesus has done for us!”

I can also imagine the two men who were blind walking joyfully through the streets, describing everything they can now see. When people ask them how this could be, they respond simply, “Jesus!” Even as they run around spreading the news, however, they would still be telling their immediate communities—people they knew or recognized from around town.

Today if we want to spread some news, we have a lot of different options. We can record a video, write a heartfelt social media post, or even write an article about it. We can spread the news further and wider than the people mentioned in these two Bible stories. We can tell people we’ve never met everything with just the click of a button. Sometimes, much like the people from these Gospel stories, we are asked not to tell. And sometimes, much like those people who experienced healing, we do. It’s a natural human inclination to want to tell other people our good news (bad news too, if I’m honest). But if a miracle happened to us? This would be beyond good news! How could we keep it to ourselves? After all, spreading good news like this is also spreading the proof of God, isn’t it?

But in both of these stories, Jesus says not to tell others.

Andrea Tornielli presents one possible reason. He writes, “these signs were meant to help people recognize the mission the Father had entrusted to him. They were not meant to nurture false hopes of a political redemption which the most extreme fringes of the population clung to.” (The Life of Jesus, 106) Other writers often present the possibility that Jesus did not want the miracles to become the whole of what people spoke about when it came to him. Jesus’ mission was far more expansive than that. The miracles Jesus performed were just a part of his connection with the human beings he encountered, and he did not want people to get distracted by the novelty.

As I reflected on this chapter, another possible reason why Jesus said “don’t tell” came to mind for me: the desire for relationship. As St. Ignatius teaches, God wants nothing more than to be in relationship with us. Even more than that, however, Ignatius teaches that God wants to be our friend. Friendships involve intimate moments of connection, of experiences that are not always for wider consumption. Consider the friend who invites you into the delivery room of her first child and asks you not to bring in your phone. Or consider the friend that sits you down and tells you about his struggles with his cancer diagnosis and asks you to keep the conversation between the two of you. Or consider the friend who envelops you with unbelievable generosity in your own difficult moment and dismisses your gratitude or desire to pay her back by saying, “This is what friends do for one another.”

Perhaps Jesus said “don’t tell” simply because this interaction—this miracle that he performed—was just a piece of an invitation to a deeper relationship with him. It was a piece of an intimate moment of connection meant just for those present.

As we continue our journey this Lenten season, this excerpt from The Life of Jesus invites us to reflect on a couple of questions:

  • How is Jesus inviting me into a deeper personal relationship with him this Lent?
  • What parts of this relationship is Jesus inviting me to share with others? What parts are meant to be kept between us as a way of deepening our friendship?

Participating in our Lenten read-along of The Life of Jesus? Share your thoughts about this week’s reading in the comments below. And post your thoughts, favorite quotes, or reactions with #lentreadalong on social media.

Gretchen Crowder
Gretchen Crowderhttps://gretchencrowder.com/
Gretchen Crowder has served as a campus minister and Ignatian educator for the Jesuit Dallas community for the last 15 years. She is also a freelance writer and speaker and is the host of Loved As You Are: An Ignatian Podcast. She has a B.S. in mathematics and a M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame as well as an M.T.S. from the University of Dallas. She resides in Dallas, TX, with her husband, three boys, and an ever-growing number of pets.


  1. I haven’t spoken with my former Teacher in many years but she left quite an impression on me when I was just a little kid sitting in her classroom at Rutgers University. I almost forgot to remember my former self who grew up very Catholic.
    I haven’t always found my religion open to differently able people. And even now the church has to lead by example in seeing the frailty of Pope Francis.
    Meredith I hope you remember me from many years ago when you were talking about a book you had written that I gave to a friend who gave to a friend.
    With gratitude
    Lorrie MacGregor


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