SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER
Holy God, invade the sanctuary of my heart as I worship you today. I need you more than ever.
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 situations of injustice and violence can you pray about today? Pray that God’s kingdom would continue to advance, bringing truth and hope.
Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee from 4 BC to 39 AD, and so ruled over the region in which Jesus lived. His misinterpretation of who Jesus is (v 2) shows his superstitious view of miracles and his guilty conscience over the death of John. In Matthew’s Gospel, John is the fulfillment of prophecy as the one who is preparing the way for Jesus (see Matthew 11:2–14; Malachi 3:1). He is also established as a prophetic voice calling people to repentance, using words that Jesus repeats (see Matthew 3:2; 4:17), showing the connection between their ministries but also Jesus’ uniqueness and all-surpassing authority.
In this passage, Jesus’ ministry and teaching about the kingdom of heaven is placed within a toxic political and personal context – a chaotic, threatening web of injustice, pride, and brutality. Herodias wanted the prophet who had been speaking the truth put to death (vs 3,4,8) without a trial, which was against Jewish law. The conditions for John’s tragic execution are sordid and barbarous. This flashback to John’s rejection and unjust death (vs 3–12), as reported to Jesus (v 12), foreshadows his own suffering and death which he knew was to come.
Unlike Herod’s mistaken view of Jesus being John raised from the dead, Jesus really did rise from the dead! ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ (1 Corinthians 15:54, ESV). What does this mean for you?
Father God, I am humbled when I learn what other believers go through for their faith. Shake me out of my complacency and embolden me as I walk with you.
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