“As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, ‘Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ “(Matthew 17:9)
We don’t usually think of Jesus’ stay on earth as a military operation. But in many ways, it was. Allies and enemies were part of the picture. So were powerful weapons and a life or death struggle. It should not surprise us, then, to learn that operations security (OPSEC) was also a concern. Still, it may strike us as strange to hear Jesus command people to not tell others what they saw him do. After all, we now live under orders to tell the whole world about him.
But for a while, Peter, James and John had to keep silent about seeing Jesus transfigured in glory. We learn the rule also applied to devils: “He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.” (Mark 1:34) He gave the same command to some of the people that he worked miracles for.
Why the secrecy?
It wasn’t because he wanted to escape being captured by his enemies. His mission was to place himself into their hands and be killed by them. Yet, it wasn’t a suicide mission. It was a rescue mission. He would triumph over death and rescue the human race from eternal devastation.
But timing was critical. He needed to accomplish every last task he was assigned on this mission. He knew that fury and frenzy would continue to grow among those who had determined he should not live. He understood what would stoke those flames of hatred. He would control the buildup of the murderous rage. He initiated OPSEC.
This gives us a glimpse of how difficult his mission was. It also shows his superior wisdom and power. Anyone who has been asked to win the hearts and minds of potential enemies realizes how fragile the situation can be—how easily the crowd can turn against a person.
Jesus did not need to be schooled in military strategy or trained in human psychology in order to be successful. He did not need to call for heavenly firepower to have divisions of angels hold back the threatening mobs. He needed no help. He asked for none. His mission would be a success because he was the Lord of Life and Glory—and he wanted to share his life and his glory with people like us.
We pray: Savior of the Nations, Lord of lords and King of kings—we look in with wonder as we watch you march toward Golgotha. We marvel at your wisdom. We learn from your example. But most of all, we thank you for pursuing your goal of providing rescue for us from sin, Satan, and death. We are glad to now have permission to tell your story. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida. Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military