Theologian William Wrede drew attention to this pattern about a hundred years ago, and named it the “Messianic Secret.” It has puzzled bible scholars for a very long time. For one thing, Jesus occasionally he does the opposite, and tells the person to spread the word. What’s going on? I think there is a simple and practical reason that Jesus does this. I’ll bet it makes sense to you as soon as you hear it.
You know how, in the Bible, sometimes it says people tear their garments? Matthew 26:25, “The high priest tore his garments and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy!’.” I always thought that the women present must have breathed a quiet “Noooooo” at that moment. Think of how hard it is to weave fabric. Look at the sleeve of whatever you’re wearing, and notice how many horizontal lines it takes to make up even an inch of vertical fabric. In that high priest’s time, a person (probably a woman) would make such a garment at a wooden loom, passing a thread carefully over and under, back and forth, through the lengthwise threads. Making any kind of fabric took forever!
“The LORD is my shepherd.” Being a Good Shepherd takes a lot of work. I had always pictured David relaxing on a hillside, thinking up psalms, while his contented flock grazed nearby. But I was surprised to learn, in the course of the book, how much hard work the shepherd has to do to protect the sheep from predators, flies, disease, and poisonous plants, and provide them always with grasslands good for grazing.