We find here a passage with great contrasts and comparisons. Peter the Confessor is also Satan, and the blind man who saw men as trees walking provides a good picture of the disciples.
"And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him . . ." (Mark 8:22-38).
They came to Bethsaida, the home town of Peter and the other fishermen (v. 22). A blind man is brought, and the request is made for Jesus to heal him (v. 22). Jesus takes him out of the town (just as he had done with Peter), and healed his sight (just as he was in the process of doing with Peter). The healing takes place in installments (vv. 23-25), a unique touch. Clearly, the fact that this was done in two stages is for purposes of instruction. Jesus sends the former blind man away, instructing him to tell no one (v. 26).
Jesus then asked His disciples about the word on the street. What are men saying about Him (v. 27)? The reports vary. Some say that He is John the Baptist returned. Others say Elijah. Still others think He is a prophet (v. 28), perhaps Jeremiah, as Matthew relates. But Jesus presses the point. What do you think? Peter answers here, gloriously, a spokesman for the rest of the disciples (v. 29). You are the Christ, Peter says. Jesus tells them to be quiet with what they know—just as He had done with the blind man he had just healed (v. 30).
There is a striking parallelism here. Peter and the blind man were both from Bethsaida. They were both led out of Bethsaida. Jesus laid hands on the blind man twice, and He had performed the miracle of the loaves in the presence of Peter twice. After the first touch, the blind man could see, kind of. Peter and the others were enlightened, and yet in significant ways, they still could not see. At this point in the Gospel, Peter opens his eyes and makes a wonderful confession. But as we shall we, this does not complete the matter.
We see now why Jesus did not want them talking about this. They identified His office correctly, but did not yet understand what that office entailed. But now that they had confessed His Person, He begins immediately teaching them about His work. The Messiah must conquer, but the Scriptures teach equally clearly that the Messiah must suffer and die, and that He must do so at the hands of the ecclesiastical authorities (v. 31). But Jesus did not just teach His Passion; He also showed that it was necessary for Him to rise after three days (Hos. 6:1-2). Moreover, He taught all these things plainly (v. 32).
Peter was appalled at this new teaching, and so he took Christ aside and began to rebuke Him (v. 32). Jesus then looks at the disciples (for whom He would die), and rejects the well-intentioned restraint as satanic (v. 33). He uses the same language He used in His wilderness temptation, and said, "Get behind Me, Satan!" Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Christ, but he still understood this in a carnal way -- according to human wisdom, and not according to God’s. Satanism is not goat's heads and pentagrams. Satanism is urbane sophisticaion, and worldly wisdom that sees no need for a bloodied cross.
Jesus wanted everyone to assemble to hear this point; He calls them all together (v. 34). He teaches them here that His vocation of suffering and glory is directly linked to their vocation of suffering and glory. If a man wants to be a Christian, then he wants to die. If he does not want to die, he does not want to be a Christian (v. 34). Further, if he wants to die, then he wants to live.
This is gospel paradox. Those who seek to save their own souls lose them. Those who seek to lose them for the sake of Christ, for the sake of the gospel, these shall save their souls (v. 35). This is the wisdom of God.
Beware of poor exchange rates -- the deals men make! They are willing to gain the whole world and lose their soul, and most men do not even do that well. Where is the profit in this (v. 36)? What possible deal could make this exchange profitable (v. 37)? And those who are ashamed of Jesus Christ now will find that He is ashamed of them then (v. 38). This includes being ashamed of His words. Both sets of "embarrassment" occur before an audience. Ours before adulterers and sinners, Christ’s before the holy angels.