A Wicked, Wicked World
God of all people and nations, Lord of this world and the next, I come before You with thankfulness and praise today.
Read MARK 6:14-29
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Power, success, happiness, as the world knows them, are his who will fight for them hard enough; but peace, love, and joy are only from God” (Frederick Buechner).
It’s fascinating to ask why Mark chooses to report Herod’s reaction to Jesus now. Why does he attach to it the flashback story about the death of John the Baptist at Herod’s birthday party? We forget the darkness of the world at our peril. This whole story is framed by the mission of the disciples (see v. 30), and this seems to be the point: the world into which Jesus sends his disciples is not just a world in which prophets are beheaded because their message is unacceptable. Far worse, it is a world in which John was beheaded even though Herod “liked to listen to him” (20). That’s because it is a world in which political power is hugely significant, for good and for ill. It’s a corrupt world, in which powerful men can get the women they want, a powerful woman’s hatred can get away with awful injustice, and a young girl can manipulate her newly discovered power over men to terrible ends.
That’s our world: the world which will soon murder Jesus, like John, even though people say such great things about him (14-16). It is a world in which people can be drawn to the good news and still reject it, even with regret. It is a topsy-turvy world in which even tyrants are victims of public opinion (26), power is abused, and truth and justice are murdered.
What’s the hope for such a world? A new movie of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was released last year, in which the magic broom, chopped up by the apprentice, becomes many brooms, all drawing water. Even as John the Baptist is cut down, many new little brooms are emerging, ready to exercise the powers of the kingdom and spread its message. It will always be so!
Pray for the political leaders who come to your mind that they may govern their people with honesty, justice and compassion.
Lord, even as I pray for those who have political power, I need to pray for myself. May any power I have be used in service for You.
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