John the Baptist beheaded

This is written by Matt Coombs. He is married to Pip and oversees students and small groups at St Mary's.

Mark 6:14-29

John the Baptist beheaded
14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, 'John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.'

15 Others said, 'He is Elijah.'

And still others claimed, 'He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.'

16 But when Herod heard this, he said, 'John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!'

17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.' 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.

21 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 dish.'

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 dish. 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.


When the Romans occupied Jerusalem and the surrounding areas they divided it into four territories each with their own ruler to rule under Rome. The ruler of Galilee was Herod Antipas, called Herod in the gospels (not to be confused with his dad, Herod the Great (tough gig following a Dad with that title!) who tried to kill the baby Jesus at the beginning of the gospel in what is often known as the 'massacre of the innocents'.

Herod Antipas had a brother called Philip who was ruler over Traconitis and Idea. Philip had a wife called Herodias, but she left him to marry Herod Antipas.

Are you following?

John the Baptist then confronted Herod & Herodias for their adultery and then Herodias formulated a plot to have John the Baptist killed.

Instead of ridding herself of her sin, she tried to get rid of the one who confronted it.
(This is what the religious leaders and pharisees did with Jesus in the end too.)

Nobody likes having their sins pointed out. The shame of being exposed is often greater than the guilt felt during wrongdoing. Herod and Herodias felt both.

I believe we all require a little authenticity. We're all flawed. Right? Being honest about it allows Jesus to change us from the inside out.

It is important to have people around us who will speak the truth to us, and to lovingly call us out when we have fallen or been led astray. That doesn't mean it will be comfortable but alternative is worse. Sin begets sin. Shame begets shame. Having rejected the messenger (John) Herod found it easy to reject the Messiah. His guilt and shame had spiralled and not been dealt with and he became complicit in Christ's execution.

The good news of Jesus Christ is that anyone can return and enter into the Kingdom of God in a moment. Your past, your baggage, your regrets, your should have's and shouldn't have's all pale in comparison to God's scandalous grace.

It's easy. Repent means to turn from. It's as easy as saying "Jesus' I want to leave that behind. Help me keep in step with you and your ways."

If you want a lesson from the life of Herod it is this: Opportunities to do good usually come to us in the form of choices to be made.

To return to Jesus and his ways is the best choice that we can all make.

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