22 They came to Bethsaida. Some people* brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23He 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?’ 24And the man* looked up and said, ‘I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ 25Then Jesus* laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Then he sent him away to his home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.’*
There is not much left of Bethsaida (Beit tsaida) today – a few piles of stones hint at where the archeologists think streets and houses once existed. Weeds grow through and around them. It is near the northern edges of the “Sea” of Galilee, along the Jordan river before it flows into the lake. Back in chapter 6, Mark said that Jesus and the disciples had set out on the sea to go to Bethsaida – a lot has happened in the meanwhile, but in today’s passage we find Jesus outside the village of Bethsaida.
Some people brought a man to Jesus who was blind – Jesus puts saliva on the man’s eyes – this was a common home remedy in his day – and touches him. Notice the lack of a command to be healed, but the question, “Can you see anything?” The man replies that he sees but hazily. Then Jesus touches him again, and he sees clearly.
Think about this text in context – we have just seen the disciples’ failure to “see”, or understand, who Jesus is, what the ministry is about, the feeding of multitudes in the wilderness, the restoring of hearing, the lame made to walk, and now the blind to see. Mark will use this passage to introduce additional stories about the disciples’ partial understanding. The implication being, although they see partially, they will see clearly after the resurrection.
Ours is only a partial understanding – but we will see clearly. I am reminded of lines from Amazing Grace, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”