When we see something amazing happen it is really difficult not to keep from sharing it with others, even strangers. I love when I’m out in public and something incredible, or funny, or just weird happens and the situation creates an instant bond with whoever is in that space and we make eye contact, laugh, make a face, or share a few words on what just happened as the event breaks down the boundaries of personal space. This same social dynamic is at play when a crowd is witness to Jesus doing something incredible before their eyes. Watching someone gain control of muscle and bone and experience feeling in a body that was paralyzed. Watching someone experience the sense of sight for the first time. Being in the presence of someone who has just heard for the first time, or uttered their first broken syllables after having been unable to speak. But Jesus is adamant about people not telling others about this experience they have all witnessed and shared together. I can hardly help telling people about what cute thing my cat does. There is no way I would be able to not tell people about seeing someone experience a radical healing.
But again and again, the writers of the gospels have Jesus resist the sensationalizing of his miraculous encounters with people. When we see watch or see someone do something that amazes us, we admire their ability, skills or talents and assume we could never do what they do. Jesus resists and condemns this idol complex in an attempt to normalize his pattern of crossing socio-cultural boundaries for the sake of humanizing the “Other” and challenging the systems that determine who is in and who is out. Clean or unclean, but ultimately, human or less than human. When Jesus does this, he invites us to follow him in doing the same. Following Jesus transforms the radical and miraculous into the ordinary and routine. Jesus tells the crowds not to tell others what they have seen because he wants them to do what they have seen rather than talk about it.