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In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus takes the blind man outside the village and heals him. Then he sends him home saying, Do not even enter the village. Why does he tell him that?

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This account of Jesus healed a blind man at Bethsaida, only appear in Mark 8:22-26. Comparing its timing with Matthew, it happened in between Matthew 16:5-20, that is, after Jesus warned His disciples against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus led His disciples to Caesarea Philippi.

route from Capernaum to Caesarea Philippi

Bethsaida located on the route from Capernaum to Caesarea Philippi. Earlier in Matthew 11:20-23, Jesus denounced three unrepentant towns, Bethsaida was one of them;

Matthew 11:20-24 NIV

20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[e] For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus healed the blind man in two stages, which is an unusual occurrence in the Gospels. And there is no further explanation for this unique healing process.

It may be worth noting that blindness was often used as a metaphor to describe a person's lack of understanding. When they were on the way to Caesarea Philippi, the disciples forgot to bring bread and Jesus said;

Mark 8:17-18 NIV

17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

Mark did not have an explanation to Jesus words, but Matthew provides an explanation.

Matthew 16:11-12 NIV

11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The blind man lived in Bethsaida, not only physically blind but also the folkways of Bethsaida had negative influence to him spiritually. Jesus told him not to go back into the village was to preserve his spirit just been restored.

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  • + 1 ... Different from my answer but that doesn't make it wrong! I hadn't considered this possibility previously. Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 14:11
  • @DanFefferman - your answer is a typical one I learn from my teachers. With the Holy Spirit, Jesus is no fear of confrontation. It appears that this explanation is not applicable to all similar occasions. May it worth to dig deeper other possibility. Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 18:38
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Following His miracles, Jesus regularly told the healed person not to tell anyone about the miracle to prevent His mission being hampered, eg, Matt 8:4, 17:9, Mark 1:44, 8:30, Luke 5:14, etc.

Thus, Mark 8:22-26 appears to be another instance of Jesus trying to prevent the crippling of His ministry by being mobbed by crowds only interesting in physical healing rather than spiritual salvation and spiritual healing.

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This is part of the messianic secret theme that prevails through much of Mark's account. Jesus does not want it known yet that he is the messiah, so he instructs the man to go home without even entering the village, which would draw attention. The best example of the messianic secret in Mark is found in 8:29-30:

He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

The secret is also evident in the other synoptic gospels but is particularly prevalent in Mark. In John's Gospel, however, Jesus does not ask those he heals to keep quiet about it. The messianic cat, so to speak, is out of the bag. Thus, John chapter 9 tells a similar story about a blind man whom Jesus heals, but there is no secret. Jesus heals the man "so that the works of God might be made visible through him." The result is that the word gets back to certain Pharisees who accuse Jesus because "Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath." (9:14) The text also notes that "the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Messiah, he would be expelled from the synagogue." (vs. 22) This sheds light on why, perhaps in an earlier stage of his ministry, Jesus would not want to publicize his healing activities or his identity.

Conclusion: In Mark, Jesus does not want to draw attention to his messiahship, probably because such a claim was dangerous and the time was not yet right for him to proclaim himself. This is the likely reason Jesus told the man mentioned in the OP to go straight home without entering his village.

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  • Yes, and Jesus rejected instant celebrity. We know this because after healing a leper, Jesus sternly warned him to keep his healing secret--and here's why: But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter. – Mark 1:45 (ESV) And also in John 7:3-5 (ESV), the unbelieving brothers of Jesus suggested he go to Jerusalem during the Feast of Booths to become publicly famous, which Jesus rejected.
    – Dieter
    Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 19:11

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