Herod and John

Mark 6:21-29 (NIV)
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 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.

Not only do I hate this story, it creeps me out that C loved this story.

After I found out that C abused my kids, I raked through the Bible, questioning God– why didn’t He address pedophiles directly? Then I realized: this is the story.

Herod had violated big ticket Mosaic rules when he poached Herodias from his brother.

Herodias is not a good mother. Salome performs an illicit and explicit dance for men. She is young and vulnerable and her mother is perpetuating the idea that her source of power is sexual. The end of this power is state-sponsored murder.

The tragedy is too much to bear. For Herodias to plot to murder the one man who wanted to raise and restore her value is so hard to face.

It is also hard knowing that Jesus, king of justice was in town, so close. Why didn’t he zap people? Free John?

But that is the point of the story: faith sees the rest of the story–thousands of us have mourned John the Baptist and faced this story as a reminder of real faith.

John’s life is secured to heaven. There is no chance for Herod. He is a man who made his own place secure in hell. He lived a wretched life and died a wretched death.

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