Sex, Power and Politics
Holy Lord, You are the Ancient of Days who is present with me now and throughout this day. I bless Your name.
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.
“In Herod, Jesus confronts evil at its worst. He knows that the same evil forces that possessed Herod will be launched against him in an effort to destroy him utterly” (David McKenna). The shadow of the cross appears.
The account of the beheading of John the Baptist begins with a report that the disciples’ mission in yesterday’s story came to the ears of Herod Antipas. The disciples’ preaching caused speculation as to Jesus’ identity. The three possibilities suggested match those given by the disciples to Jesus’ question to them as to who people believed him to be (8:27-30). Herod’s conclusion is that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead. This Herod is the son of Herod the Great (Matt. 2:1), and Mark’s account gives us a picture of a lavish and morally bankrupt court which matches contemporary accounts of the Herodian family’s immorality and, above all, their desire to stay in power. Herod had broken Jewish law by marrying his brother’s wife and his actions probably shocked most Jews, not just John. Although Herod recognized that there was something special about John (20), he put him in prison. This was not enough for Herodias, and finally her chance came. Despite later operatic and film reproductions of this story, there are no “seven veils”; we are simply told of her daughter’s dance and all that followed from that. Because he cared more for his reputation than doing the right thing, Herod had John executed.
We are reminded here of another authority figure who cared more for his reputation and career than he did about setting free an innocent man. In that sense, John’s death prefigures that of Jesus. This story reminds us that throughout the ministry of Jesus there is the shadow of the cross. It won’t be long before the disciples start to learn that lesson (8:31; 9:3). We can rejoice today as the shadow of the cross gives way to the dazzling light of the resurrection.
Pray today for those in authority. Pray that they will do what is right, and not what preserves their reputations or enhances their careers.
Father, I pray for Your servants who face grave dangers. Empower them with courage and assurance as they stand faithful for You.
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