Mark: the Master Storyteller

by Andrew Forrest

Way back in his opening chapter, Mark tells us that:

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.

Mark 1:14

And then he says nothing else about John for 6 chapters. Until today.

And today’s story is a masterpiece, with each layer unrolling like an onion. Read it for yourself:

14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
15 Others said, “He is Elijah.”
And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”
24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”
“The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.
25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Mark 6:14-29

I think that final verse is just heartbreaking.

Today’s Scripture

Mark 6:14-29


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2 comments

Ben Wright May 17, 2019 - 7:18 am

This passage continues Mark’s inquiry as the identity of Jesus. Some speculated he was a prophet. Herod speculated he was John the Baptist return from the dead. Mark is pulling the reader deeper into the inquiry.

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Andrew Forrest May 17, 2019 - 9:05 am

For sure–he’s prompting us to wrestle with the question, “Who do you say that I am?”

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