And Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not,20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. – Mark 6:7-20
I had a friend who has finally landed. He could not do it in this life; he was conflicted within, and struggled to make a simple clear statement. He always hedged. He would never say something directly. He would constantly add qualifiers, conditions, and give himself outs. I liked the guy. He was friendly. But when an acquaintance remarked of him, “He never lands,” I realized that was the case. He has ended his earthly sojourn, and is landed in the arms of God’s mercy and grace through Jesus Christ. Actually, that was the one place he had landed: entrusting himself to Jesus’ love, forgiveness, and salvation.
Sadly, on the other hand, Herod was not able to do that – at least not about Jesus. It would get him into deep trouble later in his life. But as we see here on this occasion, he cannot decide: Is John telling him the truth? Should he listen to him? Ought he really repent? Or shall he listen to his wife and put him to death?
The pressures to set aside God’s messengers has to do with powers and influences in our own hearts, as well as those around us who are not dedicated to following God. Then, of course, there is also the devil. The Devil, the world, and our sinful flesh are an unholy alliance, dedicated to bringing us down and thwarting the work of God in our hearts and lives. This unholy trinity is also at work in the lives of others. These all conspire to destroy Jesus’ gift of life and salvation.
Jesus tells his disciples that there will be those who receive him when they bring the Word to them. They will hear and believe – praise be to God! But there will also be those who do not believe. They will reject the Good News of Jesus and deny his rightful place in their hearts and lives.
It’s all too easy to align ourselves with the world, blending in and being shaped by the godless throng. I, for one, do not like to stick out, make a scene, or be the focus of ridicule or rejection. But if we take Jesus’ words to heart, we will not lose a wink of sleep over those who reject his message of love. Rather we will rejoice when we find a person of peace and have the privilege of being a part of God’s work in their lives. Those people and times may be few, but they are precious. Jesus’ followers can surely land on that.