The Mark passage shows an interesting example of how politics (as effects of popular opinion on the actions of the powerful) and religion can interact. The temple authorities are unwilling to make any interpretation of John's baptisms for fear of the repercussions of their statement , either way.
Is this why we are silent in the face of injustice so often? And allow ourselves to be distracted from pursuing it so often?
|John The Baptist preaching in the desert|
27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”
29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”
31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)
33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Updated to add image:
JESUS MAFA. John the Baptist preaching in the desert, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48386 [retrieved December 6, 2014].
I had forgotten about the paintings on the Vie De Jesus Mafa site, which are the result of a community's responses to the lectionary readings.