1. Structure and outline

The outline of Mark 8:11–33

Mark 8:11–33 (ESV)

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.

Mark 8:11–33 appears to be arranged in a very interesting and significant manner:

  • Mark 8:11–13: The unbelief and misunderstanding of the Pharisees

  • Mark 8:14–21: The unbelief and misunderstanding of the disciples

  • Mark 8:22–26: The healing of a blind man at Bethsaida

  • Mark 8:27–33: The partial understanding of the disciples

From this outline, we can thus see how the healing of the blind man is sandwiched between two examples of the disciples’ blindness in Mark 8:14–21 and Mark 8:31–33. The physical healing of blindness serves as a paradigm for the spiritual healing of the disciples’ sight, which also comes gradually and with difficulty.1 Like this blind man, the disciples will be cured of their blindness in two stages: Peter finally acknowledges that Jesus is indeed the Messiah in Mark 8:29, but full understanding of Jesus’ identity will not manifest itself until after his resurrection.2