ANSWER: This is a very good question! We can rest assured that the Lord never contradicted Himself, so there were surely valid and practical reasons for commanding silence at times and encouraging a witness to the miracle of healing at other times. In answering this question, we will confine ourselves to a few examples from the gospel of Mark, but before we do, it should be pointed out that in all but one case the Lord commanded silence.
In Mark 1:40-45 the Lord Yahushua healed a leper and though he was told to go and show himself to a priest as a testimony to the priesthood, he was expressly told, in verse 44 “See thou say nothing to any man.” Why was he forbidden to proclaim to all this great act of healing? There are perhaps several reasons and yet the most obvious answer is that Yahushua refused to have people thronging Him simply to behold miracles and He knew that this man’s testimony would result in that very thing. We read in verse 45 “But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Yahushua could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to Him from every quarter.” One of the main purposes of the miracles Yahushua performed was to draw attention to the Word of God and had there been a genuine desire for people to hear His message, He no doubt would have encouraged the healed leper to go out and testify. He did not wish to draw attention to Himself and to gain notoriety as a great miracle worker.
In Mark 5:38-43 the Lord Yahushua went beyond healing; He raised a 12-year old girl from the dead! Yet in verse 43 they received the same command as the healed leper, “And He charged them straitly that no man should know it…” In addition to the reasons cited above in connection with the healed leper, I believe the Lord was also thinking of this poor family and the privacy they deserved. Just as He avoided attracting a crowd to Himself for the wrong reason, He would spare them from being harassed by curious onlookers.
In Mark 7:32-37, people brought to the Lord Yahushua a deaf man with a speech impediment and His gracious healing Hand is seen once again in verse 35 “And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plainly.” One can only imagine the delight of this healed man and how his natural instinct would be to use his newfound speech to tell the world what the Lord Yahushua had done for him, yet we read in verse 36, “And He charged them that they should tell no man.” Did they obey? The rest of that verse goes on to say “But the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it.” Is this not telling? Instead of obeying the Lord of glory, they disobeyed, demonstrating the sad reality that their real interest was in the miracles He performed and not in the message He came to bring to lost and ruined man!
I purposely skipped past Mark 5:1-20 where we have the only example of the Lord healing a man and then charging him to make that miracle known. This miracle took place in the country of the Gadarenes which was occupied primarily by Gentiles and in this land where the Lord was not known, a demon-possessed man was delivered by the Savior. In his gratitude for the Lord’s healing he desired to accompany the Lord but instead he was told, in verse 19 “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” The man quickly obeyed, as we see in verse 20, “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Yahushua had done for him: and all men did marvel.” It’s beautiful to see that this man’s testimony was received by the Gentiles of Decapolis, for when Yahushua returned there later, as recorded in Mark 7:31-37, they welcomed Him with open arms. Why did the Lord allow a testimony to go forth in this instance? I believe there are two main reasons. As mentioned, this was Gentile territory where the Lord was unknown and thus He would encourage the good news of the Lord’s compassion and delivering power to be made known. And secondly, here was a healed man who was not only interested in healing, but in the Lord Himself! He wanted to be with the Savior, which is the mark of a true believer. In his testimony He would not only draw attention to the Lord’s power, but to the Lord’s Person. The Lord would NOT silence the mouth of this devoted follower!