My hope is in you.
Threats--even internal ones--to the community had to be minimized. The purity regulations in Leviticus were ways of protecting the community; otherwise, people might have been unwilling to associate with each other. (James V. Brownson, Bible, Gender, Sexuality, 184-185). We moderns don't follow the specific standards for separating clean and unclean, but we still attempt to find ways of making all of us feel safe.
In Mark's gospel, it's when Jesus goes to the place that we today call the church that he meets with opposition. See 1:21-28; 3:1-6 (taken from Allen & Williamson, Preaching the Gospel.)
Jesus is teaching. Religious authorities raise doubts. After all, he doesn't come from the right family.
And troubling, their unbelief affects the efficacy of his work.
And also troubling, he doesn't return to the synagogue after this.
How much of this lesson do we want to apply to our modern day? Can our unbelief in the possibility of things getting better keep them from doing so? If we don't trust Jesus' power to heal a situation in church, will we find him in church next time we go?
Healings have not been working. The people around them just don't believe. The disciples themselves have been shaky.
Jesus sends them out. They go. They have limited resources. A lot of people don't respond well to them. And yet, miracles occur.
Herod was a powerful man whose comfort depended on things going pretty much the way they had been going. This Jesus was a threat to the status quo as had been John (before Herod took care of the threat).
Herod watched out for threats to his safety and took care of them. And John certainly appeared to be a threat. Some people thought he was the great prophet Elijah, who was said to be the forerunner of the Messiah:
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight--indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts.....
then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against ... those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien...(Malachi 3:1-5. Also see 4:5-6).I'm assuming that the well being of hired workers, widows, orphans, and aliens was not high up on Herod's priority list.
Prayer for Today: Lord, increase our trust in you. And increase our willingness to act out that trust by extending your care for others. Amen.