Jesus asks others to not tell anyone about what they have seen him do a number of times:

Luke 5:14

"Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."

Luke 8:56

"Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened."

However, there is one case where he explicitly tells a newly healed man to tell others, just 16 verses before the one above:

Luke 8:39

"'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him."

Why does he not want people to know in the first place, and why does that change in this one case?

  • 3
    Maybe it has something to do with the location of the of the healing, it might only be separated by 16 verses but the two incidents are worlds apart, Decapolis was a gentile region. Apr 6, 2015 at 10:01
  • @JonathanChell - yes i think you point to the right answer. In Israel Jesus had to keep a lid on his popularity to avoid a premature arrest but in tje Gentile region this threat was not there.
    – Mike
    Apr 6, 2015 at 11:09

3 Answers 3


I'd agree with @Jonathan Cell comment. Both healing in Luke 5:14 and 8:56 happened in Jewish cities, while the demon incident happened at Gerasenes/Gerasa (cf to Map of Israel).

While there are some uncertainty regarding the exact location of the exorcism, between the city of Gadara (larger, and closer to Sea of Galilee) or Gerasa (or Gerasenes or also known as Jerash). Anyway, both city were located beyond Jordan river and in the vicinity of Sea of Galilee. At that period, Jerash was a major city in Decapolis (which was non-Jewish region).

Silence for the 2 miracles in the Jewish cities

Calvin argued that Jesus probably did not want the crowds to demand miracle without teachings. He wished that the people was more attentive to the word than to the sign. A statement supported by the parallel verse in Mark 1:40-45 that Jesus chose to retreat to desolate place when the crowd lost interest in the teaching and only sought after miracles.

On the other hand, Jesus only spent a short period (no teaching sessions) in Gerasenes and He wanted to share the Glory of God to the gentiles as much as possible.


Question 1, Restatement: Why did Jesus not want people to know about his miracles?'

Question 2, Restatement: Why was the Demoniac, at Gerasenes different?

Question 1, Answer

The very consistent answer, from the New Testament, is that Jesus didn't want the authorities to know his purpose, for fear that they would disrupt his plan.

Fortunately, there are New Testament passages that explicitly addresses this, and an incredible number of passages that show Jesus went to extremes in order to keep his purpose hidden :

1 Cor. 2:7-8, NASB - 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;

Further, there are a lot more passages where Jesus wanted things concealed--he even concealed that Judas was going to betray him, to ensure the purpose that he had in mind.

For Why Jesus Concealed His Purpose, See Related Post: What is the Power of Sin?

Question 2, Answer:

It is often argued that this village, town, was nowhere near Jerusalem. Regardless of how far away it was, Jesus' plan and purpose would not have been revealed.

Here is a hypothesis, from the History Channel, asserting that this took place in Spain--Lost Voyage of Jesus, (to Spain), (Video Link).


Jesus often commanded recipients of his healings not to speak of what had happened such as the references sited above and He also forbade the demons from revealing who He was. The injunction not to speak was to those who were not going to be travelling with Jesus. We know there were times when they disobeyed and this caused Jesus some issues (i.e., Mk 1:45). Jesus' own words shed light on why he didn't want people testifying to Him as found in His discourse with the Jews who were seeking to kill Him in John 5. In particular He points to the witness of John whom the Pharisees rejected but quizzed;

"You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. But the witness I receive is not from man, but I say these things that you may be saved" (Jn 5:34-35).

Jesus witnesses were to be the Father, His works as well as God's word (Jn 5:36-39). Every matter is established by two or three witnesses. The importance of Jesus' total reliance on these witnesses is why Jesus didn't announcing Himself as Messiah and certainly why He didn't want demons or men testifying. Such testimony would likely have compromised His mission. But more importantly, knowing Christ as Messiah comes by revelation of His person, His true nature. This can only be supplied by the Holy Spirit.

Then we come to Jesus' instructions to the recovered demoniac to tell all (Lk 8:39). Yes, this was Decapolis and not a place where Jesus was accustomed to go and why testimony in that area would not have hampered Jesus.

But it should be noted that in this instance a few other things also were different. Jesus allowed these demons to address Him for who He was, the Son of the Most High God (Mk 5:6, Lk 8:28, Mt 8:29). Why? He was training the twelve and this place was isolated. No one passed that way on account of the demoniac's violence (Mt 8:28). The disciples were already followers and there was no others to receive the testimony of these demons.

Then this man is set free of many many evil spirits after being tormented. Maybe 2,000, maybe 4.000, who knows? Whatever the number, such a deliverance was unique in history. One unclean spirit may conceal its evil work (they are masters of camouflage) in a person very well that no one may know except one who can discern spirits. And one demon could perhaps be put out by a Jewish exorcist or by prayer. And in such a case it may not even be talked about and even if it is perhaps those who hear won't place too much importance as one demon may not do a lot.

Mary from Magdala had 7 demons cast out which suggests her condition was very evident and was not recoverable without our Lord's intervention (Lk 8:2). She may have had an unclean spirit cast out by some Jewish exorcist only for it to return and brings others more evil than itself until her state became worse (Mt 12:43-45). That is, until Jesus set her free. It is notable that she then became part of Jesus' team and may not have had any injunction on telling her story.

What about a man with thousands of evil spirits? It is clear to all this man is totally overpowered, his mind if overthrown, and he is driven by the evil spirits to do many wicked things to others and to himself (Lk Lk 8:27,29; Mk 5:4-5).

And we know he was from the city (Lk 8:27) and likely everyone knew who he was and knew he was mightily afflicted. Therefore, for him to return and have no explanation as to his recovery because he was commanded not to testify by Jesus was then to put him in a position of serious disobedience toward Christ. This would have been a burden Christ would not put on any person so our wise Lord instructed him to tell all.