11 July 2021

Bible Reading

Mark 6 14-29

How John the Baptist Was Killed

King Herod heard about Jesus, because Jesus was now well known. Some people said, “He is John the Baptist. He is risen from death. That is the reason he can work these miracles.”

Others said, “He is Elijah.” Other people said, “Jesus is a prophet. He is like the prophets who lived long ago.” Herod heard all these things about Jesus. He said, “I killed John by cutting off his head. Now he has been raised from death!” Herod himself had ordered his soldiers to arrest John, and John was put in prison. Herod did this to please his wife, Herodias. Herodias was the wife of Philip, Herod’s brother. But then Herod married her. John told Herod that it was not lawful for him to be married to his brother’s wife. So Herodias hated John and wanted to kill him. But she could not because of Herod. Herod was afraid to kill John because he knew John was a good and holy man. So Herod protected John. Also, Herod enjoyed listening to John preach. But John’s preaching always bothered him.

Then the perfect time came for Herodias to cause John’s death. It happened on Herod’s birthday. Herod gave a dinner party for the most important government leaders, the commanders of his army, and the most important people in Galilee. The daughter of Herodias came to the party and danced. When she danced, Herod and the people eating with him were very pleased.

So King Herod said to the girl, “I will give you anything you want.” He promised her, “Anything you ask for I will give to you. I will even give you half of my kingdom.”

The girl went to her mother and asked, “What should I ask the king to give me?” Her mother answered, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist.” Quickly the girl went back to the king. She said to him, “Please give me the head of John the Baptist. Bring it to me now on a platter.”

The king was very sad. But he had promised to give the girl anything she wanted. And the people eating there with him had heard his promise. So Herod could not refuse what she asked. Immediately the king sent a soldier to bring John’s head. The soldier went and cut off John’s head in the prison and brought it back on a platter. He gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. John’s followers heard about what happened. So they came and got John’s body and put it in a tomb.

Explanation

John the Baptist has criticised Herods wife. She is therefore really angry with him and wants to kill him. Although Herod is angry too, he respects John and knows that he is a holy man. At a party, Herod promises his stepdaughter anything she wants, and on her mothers advice she asks for the head of John the Baptist, she wants him dead because her mum tells her that's what to ask for.  Herod doesn't want to kill John but he has to because he made the promise to his step daughter in front of guests and he doesn't want to look silly.

Have you ever been asked to do something (or maybe even just go along with something) that you know, deep inside, is the wrong thing to do?

Sometimes those things happen to us all. I know that when I was your age there were even a few times that I got myself into trouble for doing things that if I’d really thought through, I probably would have decided against. The problem always was: my friends were doing them too – and I’d been too afraid for some reason to tell them “no.”

That can be tough, can’t it? When you see your friends doing something that’s maybe against the rules – or doing something dangerous, or wrong? It seemed like whenever those things happened, I’d try to explain it to my parents by saying that “everyone else was doing it” or “he told me to!” And they always told me the same thing: The choices we make are ours – and so we have to take personal responsibility. To be responsible means that – no matter what – you’re in charge of making your own decisions.

Herod had a choice. He made his step daughter a promise to grant her wish, but what she asks for is something terrible. What would you have told her?

I think that I would have to break the promise rather than do such an awful thing. But Herod makes another choice. He sends his guards to kill John the Baptist, just so he can keep his promise. It’s a sad story. For me, this story is a reminder that we are sometimes asked to make choices that we just know would be wrong – and how important it is to have the strength and the courage to say no. Even when taking responsibility is a hard thing to do.

So next time you’re asked to make a choice, will you do a better job?

Prayer

Dear God, Sometimes we are faced with such hard choices. Fill us with the wisdom and strength we need to live our lives in a way that you may find pleasing. Amen

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