The Healing of a Blind Man (Mark 8:22-26)
Did you know…?
- Mark is the only evangelist to include the two-stage healing in
Mark 8:22-26. Mark 8:22-26occurs within the context of a larger literary unit that concludes with the healing of a second blind man in Mark 10:46-52. Mark 8:22-10:52is often referred to as the “way section” because in it Jesus and the disciples journey to Jerusalem.
- In the ancient world, blindness was often used as a metaphor to describe a person’s lack of understanding.
- Mark’s depiction of the disciples is frequently negative, and their lack of faith is often presented alongside minor characters’ appropriate responses to Jesus.
- The two-stage healing in
Mark 8:22-26functions as a commentary on the disciples’ lack of understanding.
What else is happening around Mark 8:22-26?
Exploring the surrounding context can help us to understand a particular Bible passage. It is worth noting that Mark’s Gospel contains two episodes involving blind men (
This intentional literary structure suggests that Mark has a rhetorical effect in mind. The healing accounts that frame the section, along with the repetitious passion predictions and misunderstanding, indicate that the episodes are best interpreted together.
What is the rhetorical purpose of the two-stage healing?
As Mark’s story unfolds, the clarity of the divine plan develops. However, Mark reveals Jesus’ fate from the early stages of the narrative (
The tension between Jesus’ teaching and the disciples’ misunderstanding is an undercurrent of the narrative that is never resolved. To emphasize the disciples’ lack of understanding, Mark uses a number of techniques to expose their inadequacies. For example, Mark sometimes employs a character’s physical condition (such as imperfect sight or hearing) to symbolize a broader theological concept. In particular, during Mark’s “way section,” blindness functions as a metaphor for the disciples’ lack of understanding. This relationship is made explicit by Jesus’ own words in the scene immediately before the two-stage healing: “do you still not perceive or understand?…Do you have eyes, and fail to see?” (
In view of these connections, many scholars argue that the two-stage healing provides implicit commentary on the disciples’ spiritual blindness. Their confusion about the mission and identity of Jesus, as well as their own role within the kingdom, indicates that, like the blind man, their vision is still partial. Though called to be with Jesus (
The literary section of
Although the two responses further expose the disciples’ impaired vision, the Gospel of Mark is not concerned with resolving the tension. Rather, the disciples’ incomprehension emphasizes that the Markan Jesus can only be understood in light of his death on the cross.