Last Sunday’s account had Jesus sending out his disciples as an extension of himself and his ministry. They would preach the kingdom, heal the sick, and proclaim judgement on those who refused to believe. What was fascinating to me was that Jesus sent them out after he was rejected. Why? Well, he wasn’t saying to them, “Maybe you’ll have better luck,” He was saying, “Ministry in my name will be responded to with rejection, so get ready.”
I think Mark wants us to think through the realities of this more deeply, which is why this love narrative of the death of John the Baptist is here. How are we to carry the mantle of Christ? What temptations undercut our faithful witness to him? How can we stay committed to Christ amidst the persecution that will surely come? How relevant this is for us! Let’s pray for open hearts and humble spirits this Sunday.