Here we go again. This week’s passage is another Markian sandwich. To be more specific, this week’s passage is the meat in the middle of the sandwich. By way of reminder, a Markian sandwich is a when Mark begins one story, inserts another completely different story in the middle to emphasize the first, and then completes the story. Both stories in the sandwich have essentially the same theme. This week’s passage has been inserted in the middle of a story about Jesus sending His apostles out two by two to spread the good news of the kingdom of God. But what theme do the two stories share in common? Both stories underscore the importance and urgency of faith.
For most of Mark’s gospel, thus far, he has been showing us who Jesus is, and does so largely by Jesus’ actions and peoples’ response to Him. At this point, we should have a pretty good idea of who Jesus is – He is the good news of the kingdom of God. Jesus is the holy One of God who has come to take away the sins of the world. He, Himself, is divine. Mark has been more recently pressing in on the reader to make a decision about what reader will do about what he now knows of Jesus. He’s asking, “Are you ready to place your faith in Jesus?” And that’s something Mark will push all the way to the end of the book. Mark has also started to layer in other critical themes, especially with regard to the definition and cost of being a disciple of Jesus. We see some of that in this and last week’s passages, and we’ll see a lot more in the coming weeks.
Mark use this week’s middle passage to drill a little further into the overall theme of the sandwich. He is essentially saying in it, “Don’t let your fears cause you to miss out on Jesus.” In other words, “Don’t let whatever else you fear losing cause you to forsake an abiding faith in Jesus.” How do those fears cause us to miss out in Jesus? I’ll answer that question in some detail on Sunday morning, but you can answer it now by studying the passage above.
As you meditate on this week’s passage, also consider the following questions:
Why does Herodias want John the Baptist killed?
Why does Herod want John, at least initially, kept alive and at what length does he go to do so?
What does Mark mean when he says that “an opportunity came” in verse 21? What opportunity?
Please join me in praying for God to strengthen our faith and increase the presence of His kingdom when we gather for worship this coming Sunday. Also, please pray about how you may be able to help us reach out to our community during Old Home Day and through our summer Kid’s Camp. You can read more about those ministry opportunities in the right hand column. There are plenty of ways for everyone to get involved.