“14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.”-Mark 8:14-30
In reading through the Gospel according to Mark, I was recently struck by something in the text. It was the classic inclusio (“sandwich”-like structure that frames the text), which initially caught my attention. See, in verses 14 through 21, Mark gives a brief narrative of an account in which the disciples were blind to the plain truth, which Jesus was holding before them. Then, in verses 22 through 25, Mark tells of a literal blind man, who is made to see. Again, in verses 27 through 30, Mark gives another brief narrative of the initial blindness of the disciples and closes with their final revelation.
These are three consecutive passages, which are all tied together with the same theme (i.e. the blind are made to see), are progressive in nature. The first passage introduces complete blindness with no account of revelation. The second passage introduces an account of complete blindness with partial revelation, eventually leading to clear sight. Then, the last passage introduces partial revelation, and finally the crescendo of absolute and perfect sight.
Typically, in an inclusion, the introductory passage and the closing passage (like the two slices of bread on a sandwich) point to the passage in the middle (the meat on the sandwich). Clearly this is the case here. It is as though Mark intended for the events in the second passage (verses 22 through 25) to serve as an illustration for the first and third passages. So we will take a look at the second passage and see what it reveals about the first and third passages in part 2 of this series.