12 July 2015

Mark 6:14-29

“Some were saying, ‘John the baptiser has been raised from the dead and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’” (vv. 14-16)

Psalm: Psalm 85


They say that children see the world through fresh eyes - that everything is new and surprising when you're very young - and this is certainly true of my two-year-old son. When faced with a new or unfamiliar thing or experience, he'll search his memory banks to try and help himself make sense of it. On seeing a picture of a lizard, he'll declare "S'like dine-saur! RARR!" He also tells me that goats are "like a cow" and, apparently, wind is a little bit like rain.

Even as adults, when faced with something new or unexpected, we often compare it to other things to try and make sense of it. This is what people were doing when faced with Jesus.

There's no doubt about it, Jesus' ministry - and the subsequent actions of his disciples and followers - were beginning to cause a stir in first century Galilee.

Everyone had just one question: "Who is this man?"

Perhaps he's like one of the prophets of old?
Maybe he's Elijah, returned as promised from the dead?
He's very like John the Baptist, with his preaching and disciples ...

Jesus the puzzle.

Responding to God's call, following God's lead, can mark you out as different, unusual, strange and puzzling to those around you - even to people who've known you for many years. They will look for ways to figure you out - to understand why you do what you do. What's your motivation? What's your agenda?

Sometimes their conclusions say more about them than about the object of their speculation. In today's reading we see Herod's paranoia go into overdrive as he reaches the conclusion that Jesus must be the reincarnation of a prophet that both enthralled and terrified him - John the Baptist. Herod feared John because he dared to tell the truth and Herod sees those same qualities in Jesus. It must have been his guilty conscience speaking.


To Ponder

  • Does your faith mark you out as different or unusual among your family, friends or workmates? Why or why not?
  • How do people respond to you when they hear about your faith?
  • Why do we fear truth-speakers?

Bible notes author

Anna Drew

Anna Drew is Director of Communications for the Diocese of Canterbury. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Daily Service and Prayer for the Day and a freelance writer on faith issues.

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