My God, I humbly come before You. Strengthen me today through this reading of Your Word.
Read Mark 6:14–29
John the Baptist Beheaded
14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying,[a] “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
15 Others said, “He is Elijah.”
And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled[b]; yet he liked to listen to him.
21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of[c] Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”
24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”
“The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.
25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
a Mark 6:14 Some early manuscripts He was saying
b Mark 6:20 Some early manuscripts he did many things
c Mark 6:22 Some early manuscripts When his daughter
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectWhat is troubling you today?
Wouldn’t it be great if this reading in Mark’s Gospel ended on a high note? With Jesus being acclaimed everywhere He went and by everyone? Sadly, it’s not like that.
Herod hears what Jesus and the apostles are doing (14). Some people connect it with the kind of thing John the Baptist used to do. John died, but maybe, through some kind of resurrection, he lives on? Flash back to how John died.
John had faithfully pointed people to Jesus. Then he kept challenging Herod to “do the right thing” in his marriage, according to what God wanted (17, 18; Leviticus 18:16). So Herod locked him away, even if sometimes “he liked to listen to him” (20). Then there’s that party where Herod promises pretty much anything to Herodias’ daughter, the dancer… (22, 23).
Out in the villages, there’s good news for the locals as heaven breaks into their individual and community lives through Jesus’ presence. In the seats of power, there’s bad news as opposition to Jesus and His followers continues to mount. The cross beckons Jesus. It also beckons us to costly, tough discipleship.
Following Jesus includes following Him to the cross. Reflect on Romans 8:17. Have you hidden away from sharing in Christ’s suffering? Tell Him about your fears today and seek His strength.
Jesus, I want to trust in You, but I don’t like the suffering part. Give me the strength, grace, and courage to follow You always.