In Mark's Gospel, we read of Christ raising a 12-year-old girl from the dead. He then sternly tells those around Him (Peter, James, John, the parents) not to tell anyone about it.

Here is the surrounding text:

Mark 37, 41-43: "He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James..." 41"Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, 'Talitha kum!' (which translated means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this…"

In this instance, it was (somehow) necessary to do things behind closed doors. All but 3 disciples were allowed to witness it (of course, the same three would see the transfiguration). Why was it so important to keep this miracle a secret: was there something about miracles involving children that required silence — or is there more to it?

  • @DerÜbermensch This will take me two comments to address, since those answers are interesting. One suggested that "by the criterion of embarrassment, I think the words most likely originate with Jesus himself. As to why Jesus said such things, 'to delay His death', 'to teach to disciples', and 'to redefine the Messiah' all make sense, but none provide a completely satisfactory explanation." I agree with this, they do not. Part 2 next...
    – Xeno
    May 27 at 7:43
  • @DerÜbermensch Part 2: Another spoke about Christ having to strictly adhere to that which was prophesied. The reasons I have a problem with this is that 1) I am firmly of the belief that Scripture is infallible. I do not accept the idea of "Q Documents" and so forth. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles/disciples in everything they wrote. Modern textual criticism takes a distant back seat to this. 2) Christ is a timeless being. It is not as though Christ became incarnate merely to "act out a script." No, His actions throughout His ministry are what set all in motion and created prophecy.
    – Xeno
    May 27 at 7:47
  • @Xeno - there's nothing preventing you from believing in the infallibility of scripture and the Q hypothesis, to be fair. What's your preferred explanation for the duplicate text common to both Luke and Matthew?
    – Steve Taylor
    May 28 at 8:28
  • @SteveTaylor That is an interesting question. I don't know if this answers it, but the Gospels are 4 portraits of Christ from 4 different men. The reason certain passages do not appear to align is that they are all relating events from their own unique perspectives. For example, you and I might see and hear an auto accident. When we later re-tell the story, we won't match perfectly because we each have a unique take on just what occurred. It is like that with the Gospels. I also see the 4 faces of the cherubim (Ez. 1,10) as those texts respectively. Now, what common texts are you referring to?
    – Xeno
    May 28 at 9:04
  • I'd suggest reading up on the Q hypothesis to see the various examples - essentially the crux of it is the opposite of what you've just said - Luke and Matthew use a great deal of Mark's material word for word, but also have a significant number of sections precisely in common with one another but not Mark, word-for-word identical in Greek. And so the question historically has been whether one borrowed this non-Markan text from the other, or whether both borrowed from a shared common source, 'Q'.
    – Steve Taylor
    May 28 at 9:11

I will try to answer this question from the political scientific perspective. This miracle happened in the 2nd year of Jesus' public ministry. It was the time when his popularity started to rise. At this time, Jesus did not want to accelerate this rise. First, he minimized the number of witnesses to three:

Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Mark 5:37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.

Second, he gave them strict orders that no one should know about this. Even with these precautions, some months later, the Jews wanted him to be their king.

John 6:

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Why did Christ “give strict orders” of silence regarding raising a young girl from death (Mk. 5:43)?

Jesus didn't want things to get out of control too soon. He wanted to control the timing of it.

  • Very good answer, I hadn't thought about the 2 or 3 witnesses. While I realize that Christ wanted to control His destiny, I'm still wondering why, after performing miracles so publicly (woman with blood condition, etc.), he would depart for this child in such secrecy. +1.
    – Xeno
    May 27 at 17:32

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