‘Jesus sent him home, saying ‘Don’t go into the village’ ~ Mark 8:26
When Jesus came to a place called Bethsaida, ‘some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him’ (Mark 8:22). Interestingly, instead of healing the blind man on the spot as He did on many other occasions, Jesus ‘took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village’ (v23). Jesus then heals the blind man outside the village and ‘his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly’ (v25). Jesus then sends him home, saying ‘Don’t go into the village’ (v26).
What also stands out in this healing is that it took two attempts before the blind man could clearly see. In almost all healings of Jesus, the restoration was immediate. In some, Jesus only had to speak a word. In others, Jesus did not even have to lay hands, or even see, or be at close proximity with the one being healed. But this healing of the blind man was different. It was different because of the place he had been. Jesus made two attempts, used His own saliva, and then laid His hands on the blind man in this healing.
In the first attempt, Jesus ‘spat on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him’ (v23). Jesus then asks him, ‘Do you see anything?’ (v23). The man then looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around’ (v24). Jesus then makes a second attempt and ‘Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened’ (v25). The taking of two attempts, does not mean that Jesus was powerless to initiate a healing in an instant, but rather He was using to the opportunity to get close to the blind man- so close to him until the blind man saw what really was the problem.
The main problem was the place the man was in, and not the actual blindness. If blindness was the main problem, then Jesus would not have restrained the man to go back- since he would have testified to people that he actually got healed. Jesus knew that it was not that the village did not know Him or His power, but that the blind man was in the wrong place. When Jesus took the blind man out of the village to heal him, they were probably facing the village. And so at the first healing when Jesus ‘spat on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him’ (v23), the man only saw people looking like trees walking around. But when Jesus specifically ‘placed his hands on the man’s eyes’ (v25) at the second attempt, the blind man fully received his sight. This is because Jesus fully rerouted his course and told him to steer clear of the village.
But why the village? Why does a place matter anyway? ‘Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers’ (Psalm 1:1). Some places we go only prove detrimental to our spiritual health and weaken our discernment, sensitivity, and perception. In other words, they cause us to be spiritually blind. Even if we turn to God for healing, He will first lead us out of that place and command us not to go back there. Like the blind man, some people suffer because they are simply in the wrong place.
Lot and his family would tell you that if they lingered longer in Sodom where they lived, they would have been destroyed. Even when the angels had come to warn Lot to get out of that place, they insisted on ‘spending the night in the square’ (Genesis 19:2) and not in the city. But when Lot insisted that they spend the night in the city at his house, a blindness became evident. ‘All the men from every part of the city of Sodom- both young and old- surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them’’ (v4-5). Ironically, the angels ‘struck the men who were at the door of the house –young and old- with blindness so that they could not find the door’ (v11). The angels then direct Lot to tell his family to get out of the city ‘because we are going to destroy this place’ (v13). So Lot went out and ‘spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters’ (v14). Lot tells them, ‘Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy city!’ (v14). The command from the angels was ‘Flee for your lives! Don’t look back’ (v17). ‘But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt’ (v26).
To this date, Jesus tells His followers, ‘Remember Lot’s wife!’ (Luke 17:32). As Christians, we are to let God ‘order our steps’ (Psalm 37:23). This is not to mean that a Christian is not to travel, but rather it means that they should have discernment in identifying places that are demonic strongholds, where even the power of God cannot be manifested until they come out of there. The last thing that Jesus commanded His disciples before He ascended was ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you heard me speak about’ (Acts 1:4). Likewise, in our waiting for the Lord, we are to be found in His presence because His Spirit will then direct us- He makes us sensitive of where we should be.
Paul for instance redirected his itinerary after ‘having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia . . . they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to’ (16:v6-7). In Asia, particularly in Ephesus, idolatry and sorcery had taken root and it was a demonic stronghold. The people revolted against the Gospel that Paul could no longer stay there. In another instance, after Jesus healed two demon possessed men in Gadarenes, ‘the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region’ (Matthew 8:34).
As a Christian, are you always in places which are demonic strongholds that the Word and power of God is proved inactive? Do you surround yourself with people and ideas that mock God? Some in their struggles visit bars, clubs, wild parties and concerts, ghoulish festivals, and other places where demonic altars exist, in hopes that they will find relief and ‘fun’. Instead, they end up weakening their spirit man with each visit. Although God’s arm is not too short to pull one from a demonic stronghold, more time would likely be taken in the healing process, as in the case of the blind man. This is because some blindness, some habits (drug abuse, alcoholism, perversion etc.), are amassed from the places we visit, for ‘in the place where it (a tree) falls, there it will lie’ (Ecclesiastes 11:3). Why not instead wait in Jerusalem, the City of God? Why not wait in God’s presence? Because some places are simply not for going.
‘There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: . . . feet that be swift in running to mischief’ ~ Proverbs 6:16,18
‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord’ ~ Psalm 119:1
‘I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites; I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence and go about your altar O Lord, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds. I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells ~ Psalm 26:4-8