Jesus’ Command to His Disciples
Many wonder about the reasons behind why Jesus ”commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:20 also Mark 8:30; Luke 5:14-16; Mark 7:36). The Twelve disciples, on their tour through Galilee, were not to discuss the question of whether Jesus was the Messiah or not because of the popular misconceptions that were held by the people concerning Messiah (Luke 4:19).
Why Jesus Made No Direct Messianic Claims?
Jesus knew that an open claim to the Messiah-ship would only prejudice many minds against Him and bring His earthly ministry to a halt. Jesus made no direct Messianic claims except under oath (Matthew 26:63, 64; Mark 14:61, 62), and in private to those, who were ready to believe in Him as the Christ (Matthew 16:16, 17; John 3:13–16; 4:25, 26; 16:30, 31). And He repeatedly charged the evil spirits not to address Him as “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24, 25, 34; 3:11, 12; Luke 4:34, 35, 41).
People would have interpreted His proclamation in a political sense, as they did at the time of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1, 5; John 6:15). At this occasion, Jesus presented Himself to Israel as the rightful King, the One who was to sit upon the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:12, 13; Matthew 1:1; Acts 2:30).
Although Jesus acknowledged the title “King of the Jews” (Luke 23:3; John 18:33, 34, 37), He added, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). The Jewish leaders did not want to accept Him as their spiritual King (John 19:14, 15). They wanted an earthly king who would deliver them from the Romans and set them up above all nations. They desired the earthly glory above the heavenly glory.
In addition, the political situation in Palestine gave way to many false messiahs, who planned to lead their people in revolt against Rome. The Bible gives says that: “Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed” (Acts 5:36, 37).
So, Jesus wanted to avoid being considered a political messiah in the popular sense. This would have blinded the people to the true spiritual nature of His mission and have offered the authorities a reason to stop His ministry. God’s spiritual kingdom is not in harmony with the principles of the worldly kingdoms. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:5,6).
Another reason why Jesus avoided claiming to be the Messiah was that He desired that men should know Him through personal experience by seeing His perfect life, by listening to His words of truth, by witnessing His mighty works, and by recognizing in all of this the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Matthew 11:2–6).
Jesus wanted people to see the character of God through His actions. He declared, “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18,19).
In His service,