Today we have before us a story of deceit, guilt, manipulation, allure, partying, bravado, saving face, ugly hatred and bitterness of heart. When truth is spoken, conviction is rejected and hardness of heart and arrogance spawn actions that result in the evil act of murder and gloating. Such a sad, horrific story and yet one that can provide a mirror into how our hearts could be if left to nurse a grudge, to deepen in bitterness and hatred.
Where is the hope, the redemptive story line? We are left to complete it ourselves, examining our own actions and heart intentions. How do you hear the Words of truth? With humility or resentment?
Mark 6:14-29 New Living Translation (NLT)
The Death of John the Baptist
Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles.” Others said, “He’s the prophet Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.”
When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead.” For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her. John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry your brother’s wife.” So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless, for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.
Herodias’s chance finally came on Herod’s birthday. He gave a party for his high government officials, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests. “Ask me for anything you like,” the king said to the girl, “and I will give it to you.” He even vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom!”
She went out and asked her mother, “What should I ask for?”
Her mother told her, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist!”
So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, “I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!”
Then the king deeply regretted what he had said; but because of the vows he had made in front of his guests, he couldn’t refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner to the prison to cut off John’s head and bring it to him. The soldier beheaded John in the prison, brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came to get his body and buried it in a tomb.
For Reflection and Prayer:
• What did you hear as you listened? Read?
• What do you feel as you read this story?
• Is there something in this story that touches something in your story?
• What might you have conversation with Jesus about from what you heard?