an excerpt from Mark’s Gospel: The Whole Story by Joan Mitchell, CSJ
At this point in the story strand the narrative introduces another literary sandwich, another story within a story. The narrative delays the second sea crossing story and adds a literary sandwich focused on mission. In the first slice of story Jesus sends his disciples out to do what he has been doing – preach, heal, cast out ungodly spirits. While the new missionaries are out, the narrative ominously tells the story of the beheading of John the Baptist.
The Baptist’s beheading supplies time for the twelve to be out on mission. More importantly, John’s senseless death at the whimsy of a drunken king foreshadows the cost of prophetic ministry. What happens to John may happen to Jesus and those who follow him. Jesus’ disciples and those Mark’s gospel calls to faith have reason to fear for their lives. The disciples return and report to Jesus all they have done but cannot find rest even when they go away with Jesus in a boat to a deserted place. The Jesus movement keeps growing.