Q. In Mark 5:19 Jesus told the demon-possessed man of Gadara to tell his friends what had happened to him, but in Mark 5:43 Jesus told the friends of the girl not to tell anyone what had happened to her. Why did Jesus give different instructions in these cases?
A. Jesus always watched out for and tried to prevent undue popularity with men and women simply because of the miracles He performed. He also avoided stirring up the people by not giving them political ideas because of His Messiahship. So Jesus responded differently in these cases due to His discernment of each situation.
In the incident recorded in verses 19 and 20, Jesus would be glorified by the testimony of the formerly demon-possessed man and what had been done for him. There was no vainglory involved. The man lived in Decapolis, which was east of the Sea of Galilee. The people there needed to hear what Christ could do in a person’s life, and they knew what kind of man the Gadarene had been before he met Jesus. Also, the people in that area would not react in a way that would result in Jesus’ being put on the cross before His time.
Concerning the healing recorded in verse 43, Jesus knew the reaction would be different if this miracle were to be broadcast widely. The Pharisees and scribes were standing by, wanting to find a way to kill Jesus. But this event took place before Jesus’ time to die. John 7:1–13 provides insight as to what the Jews were up to and how they felt. Verse 1 reads, “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.”
It is wonderful to read about the demon-possessed man of Gadara after his encounter with Jesus: “And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled” (Mark 5:20). And the testimony of this man paved the way for Jesus’ later ministry in Decapolis (Mark 7:31–37). Even there, though, Jesus discouraged fanfare (v. 36).