They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” 24 And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
The discipleship catechism is book-ended by stories of blind men receiving sight - 8:22-26 and 10:46-52, the healing of Bartimaeus. This ties into the metaphor of sight that Jesus introduced with the parable of the sower in chapter four. Following Jesus, being “on the way” as his disciple, is about engaging the world through the patterns of the kingdom of God. This is a new way of “seeing.”
Included in this section are three passion predictions - 8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34. The disciples resist this pattern for Jesus and do not fully understand the events that will unfold in the passion narrative. This further illustrates the disciple’s “blindness,” their lack of engagement with the rhythm of the kingdom of God.
This first healing of a blind man takes two attempts from Jesus. This could symbolize the difficulty of the disciples to understand the teachings of Jesus. Myers cites E. S Johnson: “Johnson has correctly related this ambiguity to the following confessional struggle; the disciples’ blindness ‘will be turned to sight when they understand Jesus’ logos about the meaning of Christian discipleship and his teaching about his own suffering, death, and resurrection’ (Myers, 241).”
The second healing in 10:46-52 is a true story of discipleship, told after the complete cycle of teaching in the discipleship catechism.