DREDGING UP THE PAST
Ask God to speak to you now as you give thanks.
Read Matthew 14:1–12
John the Baptist Beheaded
14 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat have been the biggest moments in your Christian life and what has changed since then?
Flashbacks: you’ve seen more of them than you can probably recall. For example, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Interstellar and most Alfred Hitchcock films use them. A device used extensively by filmmakers and screenwriters, flashbacks reveal past events to reveal present significance. And this story begins with one. Jesus’ powerful exploits reach the ears of a stunned Herod whose explanation is that John the Baptist has risen from the dead. Matthew then inserts the back-story of John’s beheading at Herod’s behest, informing us that Herod’s motivation for not killing John earlier lay in his fear of civil unrest due to John’s popularity among the people (5). Yet Herod acquiesced to Herodias’s daughter’s request to have John beheaded.
Herod is seeking to understand the present by referring to the past. And that’s just the problem. He’s trying to contain Jesus by placing him within the category of a holy man from the past. Instead of seeing Jesus with the eyes of faith, Herod is looking back with a mixture of guilt and fear. Like many others in the Gospel stories, Herod is missing the point.
Do you try to fit Jesus into the bounds of your own understanding? Open your mind today to accept Jesus for all that he is.
Lord, let me see You in the people I encounter and in the places I go, that I may be sensitive to Your leading.