- Matthew 14:1-12
- Mark 6:14-31
- Matthew 11:11-12
Pray… that whatever good or bad happens to you in this world, that no thing and no person can separate you from the love of Christ.
Day 273 – John the Baptist’s Murder
Herod beheads John the Baptist for his wife, Herodias
- Today’s passages recount a grim story highlighting how power and sin can completely blind our better judgement. Had you heard of it before?
- It’s easy to get confused with the Herods. Here’s a brief overview. Herod the Great, the guy who killed the babies when Jesus was born, is dead, but he had several sons including Herod Aristobulus, Herod Antipas and Herod Philip I. Herod Aristobulus had a daughter called Herodias. Herodias married her uncle, Herod Philip I, and they had a daughter, called Salome. After she was born, Herodias decided she fancied one of her other uncles more, Herod Antipas, and divorced Philip I so she could marry Antipas. Phew… did you get all that?!
- It’s at this point that John the Baptist entered the scene and told Herodias that she shouldn’t divorce her husband in order to marry his brother (based on Leviticus 18:16). Herodias, enraged, made Antipas (who’s in charge) put John in jail (see Mark 6:17). It’s against this bizarre backdrop that the events of our readings today took place.
- What do the passages, especially the one in Mark, say about Herod Antipas’ view of John? Based on the confusion about John’s identity, which is referred to in Mark 6:14-15, Herod didn’t seem to want to mess with him, but his wife wasn’t scared of John!
- Herod had organised the feast with many important people in attendance. Salome, who was around 12-14 years old, came and danced for everyone. Happy with her performance, and perhaps bragging in front of his guests, Herod offered her anything she wanted. What did she ask for? Who coached her to ask for it?
- What was Herod’s reaction? Do you think he was weak or strong when he went ahead with the murder of John? How do you think the pressure of his wife and the opinion of his guests might have affected his decision? Did he put his reputation before John’s life?
John shared a message about Jesus – and of God’s Law – that eventually led to His death. He shared the message of truth, even when it was unpopular, and in the face of the many dangers that it brought. We can hope never to be in a situation where our lives are in danger for sharing the good news of the Bible, but we can be sure that it will be often be unpopular. How does that affect the way you share it?
Don’t miss the fact the the death of an innocent man that we read today points us to Jesus. He too came with a message that was unpopular, and He too was put to death in an attempt to quash his mission. Little were they to know, of course, that their actions played their part not in destroying that wonderful mission, but actually achieving it!