November 3, 2013

The Death of John the Baptist

Passage: Mark 6:14-29

Jesus sends his disciples out all on their own, blessed and empowered with his authority (6:7-13). Before they get back, Mark tells us this sensational story, which includes power, sex, death and religion. Why stick a cropped episode right in the middle of a driving narrative about Jesus? This is the only story in the gospel not about Jesus explicitly, but like the book of Esther omitting "God", it’s all about him. Mark’s sandwich structure—apostles sent, John murdered, apostles return—tells us what it means to follow Jesus. John goes before Jesus, Jesus before the apostles, and the apostles before us. This is death by discipleship.

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